The buzz words 'monitoring and evaluation,' have become so hip within international development organizations we've coined them a nickname: 'M&E.' No doubt, it is a critical function in assessing the impact of a particular model and one in which Building Tomorrow practices. But as this latest trip reinforced, we'd be remiss to expect only statistics, percentages, and numbers to define our work; there's more to the story. Statistics overlook the story of Muganga Nasanaili, a thin-figured, reserved lifetime resident of Mabaale who himself never had the chance to attend primary school. Vincent, our Community Development Officer (CDO) posted to Mabaale asked him to come forward just as a building committee meeting wrapped up. "This man, he is an inspiration to me," Vincent said as he held up Muganga's callous-ridden hands. "You see, not only did he give us the land on which we are building this structure, but he has been here working each and every day without fail." Muganga and Vincent embraced in what is now one of my favorite Building Tomorrow images. Percentages fail to capture the ingenuity of William, another one of our CDO's who after two hours of visiting his soon-to-be-completed Bugabo site, insisted that I go see the pit latrine. Reluctantly, thinking there could be nothing different about this pit latrine than the countless others I've seen before, I followed William. Steps later, he turned around, beaming. "I designed this toilet," William said. "I've heard parents and students saying we need to make the latrine even more private, so I added a return wall on this side for girls, and on this side for boys for this purpose."
William's emphasis on ensuring an instilled sense of dignity for each future student didn't end there - he outfitted Bugabo with a wheelchair-accessible ramp and proudly asserted that every Building Tomorrow site to come will not be considered done until it too has a ramp. Numbers don't capture the moment a handful of children at our future Building Tomorrow Academy of Kabasegwa shared with another as they cautiously moved toward our parked car, nestled under the shade of a jackfruit tree. Standing inside one of the classrooms, I knelt down as their forward progress would cease if they looked around and spotted anyone watching their harmless inquiry. At first, one by one, the children made faces at the back window of the car. After each, they laughed hysterically. The younger ones discovered the same phenomenon looking eye-level with the body of our car, one daring enough to reach their hand out and make contact in a scene reminiscent of E.T. Half the crowd turned away unsure of what would happen, the other grew wide-eyed when nothing did. Peering out of a hole left in the wall for a window, I realized it was likely long before I first entered a classroom that I'd had the chance to see my reflection in a mirror. Indeed, I learned, this was a first for many at Kabasegwa that day. I've always believed the work of social change is peppered with split seconds of fulfillment - unexpected, goose bump-inducing moments that reaffirm the sometimes crazy notion that a small group of committed individuals can make an incredible impact. Indeed, the work of Building Tomorrow continues to prove as much, with statistics, percentages, numbers and a whole, whole lot more. Onward and upward,
BT Academy of Lukindu is Open!
This summer, Building Tomorrow celebrated the opening of its 12th academy, the BT Academy of Lukindu, with a joyous commissioning ceremony. Should you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these cermonies, you will feel the sense of accomplishment and achievement shared by the members of the community. Following a celebration with speeches, dancing and gratitude, the community shared delicious food to commemorate the opening of the school.
We are grateful to the Segal Family Foundation for their generous support of the BT Academy of Lukindu.
Currently, Building Tomorrow has 12 schools open in Uganda and another 7 under construction or undergoing site-planning. Be sure to check out our Building Tomorrow Academies webpage for all the details and updates on each of these schools. As always, thank you for supporting our vision of a world where every child with a desire to learn has a safe, permanent, and local place to do so.
On May 25, 2013, four University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students joined families, students, community leaders, and Ministry officials to open Building Tomorrow’s 11th primary school in Uganda - the BT Academy of Kidula. The Academy was funded by the BT chapter at UNC-Chapel Hill (one of 30 college-based chapters) namely through Bike to Uganda, their signature event, a week long bike-a-thon raising over $45,000 in its first two years. Sarah Piscitelli (UNC ‘15), Erin Owenby (UNC ‘13), Catherine Edwards (UNC ‘13) and Amanda Wall (UNC ‘13) were there to celebrate alongside the community of Kidula.
In opening, the BT Academy of Kidula has the capacity to serve 325 children with access to a quality primary school education. Since the ground breaking in December 2011, community members have donated over 20,000 hours of labor towards the project.
But they aren’t done giving yet. During the opening ceremony, the community pledged to raise the funds needed to build teacher housing on site. Each family will contribute the sale of a hen (20,000 Ugandan Shillings or approximately $8 USD) while one family has committed to give 100,000 Ugandan Shillings ($40 USD) to jump-start the project.
The Ugandan Ministry of Education was also present at the opening ceremony. The Minister of Higher Education addressed the community about the importance of educating their children. He also personally promised to give 1 million Ugandan Shillings ($400 USD) to provide additional classrooom resources for the school.
Piscitelli said after the ceremony, “It was amazing to see the Academy complete and meet the community members who have partnered with our efforts. I cannot wait to get back to UNC and tell all the students about the people I met and the structure that now stands because of them. Education is our future and now these children will have the opportunity to learn.”
The BT Chapter at UNC is currently fundraising for a second academy. One-fourth of the way towards their goal and with another Bike to Uganda event scheduled for the Fall, they hope to be partnered with another community in Uganda to build a second primary school very, very soon.
March 3, 2013
Seven years ago on my first trip to Uganda representing Building Tomorrow, I took out a pen and paper as my plane flew South over the Sahara. The sands beneath seemed to stretch forever, painting the skies a warm, mesmerizing orange. This morning, the deep ocean blue one would usually see crossing the Atlantic is shrouded by clouds on my way back to the USA, and though not as picturesque, the temptation to write persists. Along Building Tomorrow's journey, you have put us on your shoulders and carried us to places I never dreamt of on that first trip. Never is my sense of pride and gratefulness for what you have done as powerful as on the tail end of a visit with our staff and in our communities. I hope you'll allow me to start a new tradition with you—sharing my reflections after this and subsequent visits—giving you a glimpse into Building Tomorrow’s work on-the-ground. Each trip, I eagerly look forward to dropping in on our communities. On a visit to the Building Tomorrow Academy of Kyeitabya last week, we met with the headmaster, Emmanuel and his team of two other teachers. Just opened, the school has 76 students through P3, though Willy Kajubi, our Education Support Officer will tell you there could easily be 500 students one day. Emmanuel, a fiery twenty-something spoke confidently about the first month of class. Though the challenges are many, he spoke at length about an engaged community and the ‘beautiful classrooms’ that greet students each day. Affixed to the walls of Emmanuel's office were the usual signs-the national anthem, a school schedule and roles and responsibilities of each teacher. Littered in between were several quotes, one in particular which caught my attention: "Remember, today was built yesterday." I thought to myself, that's why we're Building Tomorrow. With 15 Building Tomorrow Academies built or underway and a desire to scale in the years ahead, much of our week was spent documenting the Building Tomorrow model and walking through how our work can be improved. Guiding us through this highly-technical exercise was our masterful Jack of All Trades, Maggie Kirkpatrick and Country Director Joseph Kaliisa. In total, we spent in upwards of 40 hours debating, writing and offering ideas for conversation. It was meaty, but timely, too. As we prepare to welcome a Program Manager to our team to oversee our construction-related activities and ramp up our investment in ensuring the delivery of quality education, the conversation was rich and the final product now much anticipated. In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing this comprehensive document detailing our model with staff and supporters. Five months ago, we equipped our Community Development Officers (CDOs) with camera phones in hopes of receiving more regular updates of site progress and happenings. At first, I didn’t know if our plan would work given the location of our sites, the lack of electricity and network coverage. But like many times before, I was wrong. A message from Burungu, one of our CDOs hired last year made it to my inbox the night before our all-staff meeting: The picture in the background is showing you a well-constructed and finished school. Am happy to send you that picture and I think I've moved a step ahead as community development (officer). Burungu, arriving a bit late from Kidula on Saturday morning brought a pineapple from the site, which we collectively devoured in celebration. His colleagues offered him a round of applause and Burungu went on to speak of how the community expected great things now from their children, far more than they had before Building Tomorrow's work commenced. These are exciting times at Building Tomorrow. With commitments taking us up to 20 Building Tomorrow academies and a dedication to improving quality inside each classroom, we have a long road ahead—one made all the easier to travel with the support and friendship of all those who believe in our mission. Onward and upward,
Dec 28, 2012 | Kabasegwa Progress Report name the BT Academy of Kabasegwa supported by Kappa Kappa Gamma at UT-Austin location Kabasegwa, Lyantonde District, Uganda design 2 distinct classroom blocks groundbreaking September 21, 2012 status the walls are beginning to take shape October 2011 Kappa Kappa Gammas at UT-Austin, led by senior Ellie Chernosky, reached their fundraising goal of $45,000 for a new primary school for 325 students in Uganda. May 2012 In partnership with the community of Kabasegwa, Uganda and the local Ministry of Education, the future Building Tomorrow Academy of Kabasegwa was formally commissioned. Once the donation of land has been finalized, groundbreaking will occur! September 2012 Building Tomorrow's team in Uganda joined parents, family and friends of future students as they gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of their Academy. October 2012 The entire community has been working tirelessly since the groundbreaking. From clearing the land to digging the foundation, they've come out in droves to offer their help in any way they can. October 2012 Truckloads of bricks are delivered regularly to lay the foundation and build the walls of the Academy. A handful of skilled masons, assisted by community volunteers, are ensuring a high standard of construction. November 2012 The foundation walls have been built up around certain areas of the Academy to account for the slope of the land and ensure a level foundation and floor. November 2012With more than 800 bags of cement needed to mix all of the concrete for the foundation, walls and floor of an academy, water is brought in by the wheelbarrow-full and concrete is hand-mixed directly on-site. December 2012The community in Kabasegwa has proven to be one of our most active partners ever. To speed up construction and ensure everyone could help, they formed one of many assembly lines to move materials needed to build up the floor. December 2012Community volunteers are pouring the foundation and casting the concrete slab floor of the lower classroom block and the walls are beginning to take shape!
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