A busy and successful week in Kampala

Trip Start Jul 23, 2010
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Trip End Apr 17, 2011


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Where I stayed
Residence of Peter's Aunt & family

Flag of Uganda  ,
Sunday, August 22, 2010

This week was loaded with good ol' hard work researching, writing, and meeting people. We arrived into Kampala on Sunday, and arrived at Mummy's home in Kawempe, the north side of Kampala. Being in Kampala will allow us to be connected to the Internet, and most of the businesses we are probably going to want to talk to are headquartered here, as well. 

Monday and Tuesday, I spent most of the days doing database development for URCSF, consisting of demographic information on the farmers, their crops, livestock, capabilities, land acreage, interest & needs. Getting funding for any project these days is incredibly difficult. And information is power. The people in the remote area I'm working with are really living in the dark ages. They have no place to sell their agricultural products, so they sell them to each other which, needless to say, doesn't go far.  Some leave their fruits to rot on the trees. The conditions here for growing are incredible; the soil is beautiful. There is so much potential, it's a matter of tuning agricultural practices, finding buyers, connecting producers with buyers, and organizing the farmers to work together as a group. The NGO (non govt org) I'm working with has developed a model farm to teach practices; they've established a network of 1000 farmers; they've made great strides to establishing the groundwork, including introducing new strains of fruits,vegetables, developing a herd of goats for establishing them on farms, etc.  But they don't have the markets for the products.  And they don't have hard data on the farmers - i.e. who they are, what they are growing, how much land they have, access to irrigation, blah blah blah.

Since I've been here, I've met with four different companies that are interested in purchasing fruits from our farmers.  And these are serious buyers.  Uganda can't meet their own demand for fruit - they are importing from neighboring countries at a premium because they don't have access to these individual farmers - too difficult to find them and work with them as individuals.

So, one of my priority projects is to establish business relationships between our farmers and these buyers.  To do that, I need to organize them, know who they are, what they are capable of producing, etc.  This is also what the buyers want to know.  Hence the need for the database.  I also want something that will show where this organizatin has come from in a couple years; this is really necessary for getting funding from agencies, like USAID.  Right now, I've just captured the data in a flat file format, but want to make it relational.  I thought I could pick up a cheap package, or even use Access, but I'm working on a MAC and the Director is on a Windows PC.  I can't find a cheap database app that works on both; Access isn't supported on a MAC.  And money is so tight here that I want something that can be maintained inexpensively or free, like open software.  I found a website "Hackers for Charity" and posted a plea on that site for help building one.  In the meantime, I'm just going to work with my flat file and start to collect data.

Wednesday through Friday I spent doing research, appointment setting, and in meetings.  We had two great appointments, one with Britania and the other with Reco Industries. Britania was a follow-up meeting since they sent Denis to the farm to meet the farmers a couple weeks ago to discuss what Britania had to offer.  Reco Industries is involved in a number of complementary areas, such as honey, juice production, and papain (papaya extract), which I am a little familiar with. A good friend, Jules Paulik, had back surgery years ago and had papain injected into his spine as part of the surgery.  This company is one of the top three in the world for production of papain.  Turns out this company is also the one that has been awarded a two year contract as part of a huge grant project funded to assist the Ugandan farmers, among others in East Africa.  The grant is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Coca Cola.  It's a huge opportunity for the country's farmers, and I only hope we can be a small part of it for the benefit of the farmers in the area we are working in.  Another spark of good news is that they are a ready buyer of honey, so as I continue to develop a proposal to begin beekeeping and honey production, I have someone in the wings (no pun intended) to purchase production.

Incidentally, on Thursday, I attempted to get into the US Embassy.  The Embassy, aka the mission to Uganda, is under the auspices of the Department of State and provides some pretty extensive funding to projects in Uganda.  However, I was turned away - seems you need an appointment.  That will have to wait until another time.  After meeting with Reco on Friday, and learning that they received significant funding from USAID, looks like I have a bit more preparing to do before I meet with the folk at the Embassy.  

On Friday night, Peter & Mommy, Ben and I visited a cultural center in the Kampala area where the Ndere dance troupe performed. The highlighted link takes you to a YouTube video that explains the origins of the group and showcases some of the dances.  The show was very colorful and entertaining.  Dances were represented from north and south of Uganda.  Several musical instruments, including saxophone, guitar, drums, and four different forms of hand harps which I've never seen before, from small to large (soprano down to bass), were part of the production.  The dancing was very tropical-like, a lot of shaking of the tush, if you know what I mean.  Clearly the idea is to move the hips and butt, but nothing above the waist.  One of the last dances included putting ceramic jugs (pots) on their heads, stacking one on top of the other throughout the dance.  Two of the girls were able to stack seven of these jugs on each of their heads while dancing, most of the others did up to five or six.  I read online of a seventeen year old girl that was able to put nine atop.  The dance was pretty incredible. Here is someone else's YouTube video of "the pot dance" (most of my photos were pretty dark, but I've included them anyway).  If you click on "the pot dance" link, you'll see someone else's video of the dance, which is pretty cool; it's not a video of the the same night, but pretty much the same show.  After the show was over, we ran into some Germans that are working on a farm project not far from where the show was.  We will be meeting with them on Monday to see what they are doing and see if there are any synergies between the two organizations, theirs and ours.

Saturday afternoon, I worked on an application to a volunteer organization; developed position descriptions & responsibilities that are available for volunteers to fill for short-term or long-term engagements.  Pretty boring stuff, but necessary.  

On Sunday, I attended mass with Mercy, one of the family boys who is in the seminary here; it was the 25th anniversary of the choir.  As it turned out, the Archbishop of Kampala attended, along with a dozen other clergy.  The choir presented "gifts" during the Thankoffering, which included predominantly food items - I saw pineapples, a live chicken, flats of eggs, banana leaves (which are used in preparing food), just to name a few. It was interesting to note that most of the pictures and statues, including the stations of the cross, were depicted with white-skinned people.  There were paintings of saints throughout the church that were Ugandan, however.  I estimated close to 500 people in attendance, with room to spare.

Today was also wash day; Mummy #2 (Peter's other aunt that live here) kept wanting to help me.  These ladies work all day long, seven days a week.  Last thing I need is them to work doing my laundry, but she wouldn't take no for an answer, so we did it together.  The thunder rumbled and the sky got dark, but no rain.  Clothes came down, but went back up just as quick.  
Peter & Cissy stopped over with Daniella and nephew, Malcom.  I was able to get some pretty good pictures as everyone was relaxing and talking.  I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, we have several appointments.  The morning will start with a 10:00 appointment with Jakana, a natural fruit juice processor just a few miles from Mummy's house.  Then we will stop at the government agricultural research park, followed by a visit with the Germans we met Friday night, some errands in town, and then a 3:30 appointment with an exporter of herbs and spices on the other end of town, close to Peter's and Cissy's home.
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Comments

Michele on

Sounds like you are making some good progress over there! What a blessing you are to all those people! LU and MU!
Michele, Cody and Kyla

Jim on

It looks like you have great potential with the papaya. How difficult is that fruit to grow? What are the pros and cons for this product? Jules had a "papaya extract injection(s). Is that the same as papain?

Great writing as always! Love, Jim

jaynewick
jaynewick on

Yes, papain is the papaya extract, and I remember Jules telling me it was called papain. Papayas grow easily here, but there are different types, those that are smaller and preferred for export and those that are large (like the size of a soccer ball at the bulb end) for local use.

Interesting that papaya extract is not derived from the seeds, but from extracts when the whole papaya is scored and left to "drip".

Don't know how much real potential there is with the papaya, sounds like they have all the supply they need right now, but you never know.

Cheri on

Jayne,
What a beatiful family you have to watch over you. It sounds like you are getting somewhere and also a lot of work to be done. I know that you will do well for them and you are also a great asset. Thanks for the links on the dance performance, they were wonderful and interesting. Take care and be blessed.

jaynewick
jaynewick on

Hey, Cheri & Glen. Thanks for the comment. You notice what big smiles they all have? They are a really happy people. And I am enjoying them immensely!

Fr, Joseph-Mary, OSB on

You are really making wonderful strides into knowing what the real needs of this organization are. I know there is need for perseverance into doing all this. The good thing is that you are dealing with wonderful families, very hospitable and have that spirit you have " Giving up your life for love of others". I pray that the Lord may continue to protect you.

Steve Jaberg on

Jayne, Your work continues to fascinate - as does your thorough reporting! We (Cedar Community Board) were wondering if it would ever be possible to set up a 'Skype' contact during one of our Board meetings! Having you particpate from Uganda would be wonderful (though the difference in time zones may make this very difficult). Your thoughts?

jaynewick
jaynewick on

Thank you, Father. I am impressed with all the work Peter has done, so he has inspired me to help this organization progress even further. We have many wonderful opportunities, but we need to move carefully and make each stage successful. Your prayers are appreciated and encouraging. Thank you.

jaynewick
jaynewick on

Steve... it would be an honor to Skype in during a board meeting. Timing would not be an issue, but location could be as my signal is mostly determined by my location. Should we shoot for the September meeting??? Regards to all. Jayne

Jason Tetzlaff on

I really enjoyed reading what you've written and the pictures you've posted. It's awesome you can use your farming and professional experiences combined. I'm very happy for you and glad to see you're adjusting to your new surroundings and making new friends in the process. Thinking of you! Love you!

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