Oct 24, 2013

Chief Dreamer Check-In | October 2013

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,

Sep 6, 2013

BT Academy of Lukindu is Open!

the BT Academy of Lukindu
the BT Academy of Lukindu

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.  

Webale Nyo!

Jun 11, 2013

The BT Academy of Kidula is open for class!

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.

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