Over the past several months, Project Focus has continued to make progress towards fusing the need for permaculture training and access to internet service. Currently, The Lyantonde Internet Center has attracted an array of community members. Project Focus and its partner ICOD Action Network are actively recruiting and finding alternative ways to encourage attendance from non-traditional internet users, such as farmers. In the last six months, Project Focus has been working with a master of Public Health student from the University of Illinois at Chicago to develop a more specific program plan for the permaculture/Internet Center collaboration. Currently, the student, Project Focus, and ICOD Action Network are developing a modified program plan and data collection tools to evaluate the effectiveness and range of program access by farmers in the region. As the Internet Center has grown in attendance over the past two years and the partnership between Project Focus and ICOD has strengthened, we have discovered the importance of a longer-range program plan so that as an organization we can become more aptly prepared to address the unforeseen complications that are so commonplace in global work. We are excited about the energy and new perspectives this connection will add to our diverse programming. In addition to our new Plan, Project Focus was glad to host Ahabwe Michael, Executive Director of ICOD Action Newtork in January. Awabwe was asked to speak about the food security issues faced in Uganda and ICOD’s work at the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights. Ahabwe’s return trip to Chicago was a great time for the partnership to meet and for the important work of our partner to be recognized.Project Focus was also fortunate to be re-invited to WBEZ’s Global Activism Expo 2012. This year we highlighted the continued successes of the Internet Center and the expansion of our Permaculture Program. We also had a great time interacting with visitors and creating our community art mural. In the coming months, Project Focus looks forward to reinvigorating our activities in the Chicago region. As a team we are looking to host conversations and learning-sessions to highlight the shared need for sustainable farming practices and food concerns in the Chicago region and Western Uganda alike. Volunteer, Hannah Foehringer Merchant, will be visiting our partner organization in the Summer of 2012.
In the past few months many exciting new developments have happened within the Lyantonde Internet Center Project. Currently, Project FOCUS and our local partner ICOD Action Network are working together to create a three year sustainability plan for the center, as well as working on a plan to fuse together the permaculture work in Lyantonde with ICT training and internet use.
Ahabwe Michael, the executive director of ICOD Action Network, was recently in the United States on the Bold Food Fellowship, learning practical skills on conservation farming, sustainable agriculture, and permaculture principles. During his visit, Ahabwe also found time to speak about food security at the Jane Addams Hull House at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and about ICOD Action Network, the internet center, and challenges the town of Lyantonde is currently facing on Worldview with WBEZ’s Jerome McDonnell.
During Ahabwe's visit, Project FOCUS and ICOD Action Network met and had excellent discussions on the future of both the internet center and permaculture training in Lyantonde. The internet center is doing well, with an average increase of 12% customer usage per month since its opening. The next step Project FOCUS and ICOD Action Network have decided to take is to create a plan to use the internet center and information access to crop prices and sustainable agriculture to supplement the permaculture and conservation farming training that will take place within several different communities in Lyantonde.
Staff member Madelene Pario was also recently in Lyantonde, taking a closer look at the outreach potential of the internet center, and staff member Seva Gandhi is headed to Lyantonde in a couple of weeks to work with ICOD Action Network on future programming plans.
With your help, the Lyantonde Internet Center opened its doors in June 2010, providing people with access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) previously unavailable in the area.Individuals now have access to the internet for personal and professional use, but the benefits of the center extend beyond individual use. ICOD Action Network and Project FOCUS have partnered to provide capacity-building training on a community level through the Center. Thus far, over 60 people have been trained in ICT, nearly 70% of whom are women.In addition to ICT training, Project FOCUS and ICOD Action Network have also partnered to implement a 1 week long Permaculture workshop for local farmers in the rural community. 137 farmers, over 80% women, participated in the Permaculture skills workshop.Our partnership will continue to serve the general population of the Lyantonde region, with an emphasis on developing practical skills, especially for women.One Permaculture training participant, Nalukwago Fatuma, shared her experience with us: "Before March this year, none of us here in Lyantonde knew about permaculture... Throughout this course, I was introduced to many new things that are very important for our daily lives like planting a food forest and embracing nature so as to sustain ourselves and the future generations. I now believe that our standards of living can only be achieved if we only embrace nature and preserve it."
Project FOCUS started 2010 with our biggest goal ever: to build an Internet Center in Lyantonde, Uganda. Last year, you played a pivotal role in making this goal a reality. Please click here to view our 2010 Annual Report.In 2010...
We would like to thank all of you who have been involved with Project FOCUS; without you, our accomplishments this year would have never been possible. Whether you have invested your time, your talents, your ideas, or your hard earned money, we are deeply grateful for your support.
If you have trouble viewing the annual report, please copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=63337
This fall, our local partner ICOD Action Network hosted an essay competition for Ugandan students in secondary school. The essay competition was entitled "ICT a powerful tool," with the objective of assessing students' understanding of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and increasing the adoption of ICT among younger users. Three winners from the competition were awarded "back to school" packages including mattresses, school books, and other supplies. This year's winners, selected by an independent committee of Ugandan school teachers, are Agnes Komujuni, John Baptist Ssenkyai, and Bernard Byakatonda.
Here are a few excepts from the winning essays, organized by topic:
ICT in Schools
"[ICT] can be a catalyst by providing tools which teachers use to improve teaching and by giving learners access to electronic media that make concepts clearer and more accessible."
-Agnes Komujuni St. Gonzaga SSS
ICT in Homes
"In homes, [ICT] has enabled many people to benefit by playing computer games, listening to music, watching the latest videos, retouch a photograph, and then provides leisure activities to many people that enables individuals to relax for proper working during the next day, thus promoting development."
-John Baptist Ssenkayi St. Gonzaga SSS
ICT in Businesses
"Economically, ICT promotes trade. Goods can be sold and bought online thus reducing the risks involved as well as saving time."
-Bernard Byakatonda, Ian College S5
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