Empowering women and children in Lingira

by Tawi Inc.
Banquet at Varsity Hall
Banquet at Varsity Hall

Friends and supporters,

 We’re happy to write to you from our annual winter hiatus. While our university break has been a chance to recharge the batteries, we’ve also been gathering up momentum and lessons from the past several months to carry into the next semester. The past has taught us that losing sight of our impending trip to Lingira in the summer can make for hurried and disorganized preparations. Hence, engendering focus and drive to create lasting change on the Island is a priority for our work in Madison. That said, confidence in the group is high and you can expect another year of sharing knowledge, cultures, and experiences with the people of Lingira.

Most development groups are fortunate to not be subject to the forces of graduation. Losing many of our best and brightest last spring became a significant hurdle to overcome before we could strike out productively. But, through patience and frequent lectures about Lingira from past travelers, we’ve put together a new group of people excited to give their best for our projects. A lot of this was cemented in our fall organizational elections where some deserving members found positions in the organization to ply their knowledge.

The management elected to make this fall semester focused on pushing members to think developmentally (and also about fundraising.) The fruition of the first will be observed in the coming months, but the latter goal was achieved very satisfactorily. Two major components were a matching drive on globalgiving.org in October and our fall banquet. We enjoyed a great show of support on both occasions. The banquet will be a model to emulate in coming years. It included good food in a beautiful location with the most generous attendees imaginable. Thank you to all who attended.

The coming months for EDGE are some of the most fulfilling; we get to decide how we specifically want to manifest our vision for Lingira in several tangible projects. Our first goal is to revisit the garden and try to guide its developmental potential through extensions. These might include a water pump, poultry to combat pests and fertilize, and starting a community seedbed, which would sell seeds to community members or send them home with students.  We also aim to do projects with students to push their cultural and social boundaries, with the ultimate goal of global awareness and open colloquy between peers and generations. “Silence” and short fields of vision can entrench poor decision-making and chip away at individuals’ ability to control their own futures. While we will pursue other research projects, we’ll share a final taste of our plans for the summer. We’ve partnered with an engineer who designed a low-cost, effective, and efficient household water filter. We’ll be subsidizing and distributing around 100 filters, which enable many hundreds to have access to safe water and take ownership of the filters and their health. (Our other globalgiving project page will host a 2:1 matching campaign throughout February, if you wish to support this project specifically.) This departs a little from our normal scope and scale of projects, but the possible impacts from this make it impossible to not pursue. We’re excited to make it happen.

It’s great to talk on this platform, but inevitably, our blog (wisconsinedgeproject.blogspot.com) is much more frequently updated. That’s as good a place as any to stay in touch.

We’d like to extend another kind thank you for your support in helping us sharing our vision of dignified and fruitful living with Lingira Island. Together, we’re helping a community advance itself in ways unimagined before.

Thank You,

EDGE Project 


In the time since our last report, we’ve been working hard towards achieving several long-term goals for this year.  The remaining weeks of summer after returning from Uganda were filled with (ongoing) efforts to start building a stronger network of members, alumni, and supporters through media such as our redesigned blog, new website, and a more-lively facebook page. This year’s leadership is the first generation to follow the graduation of essentially everyone that was a part of the founding group. We had been fortunate to be able to rely on a sizeable group of highly committed people who were in it for the long term, until this year.  It was clear that we would need to recruit a new crop of quality student researchers in the fall to really keep the group viable. The big tests for this were effectively promoting our mission preceding and during the fall Student Organization Fair. When our kick-off meeting came, we did more than fill a 50-seat lecture hall with prospective members. Maybe 30 of them have stuck around four weeks later, which was roughly our goal in starting out.

Another hurdle that the group faced was making the experience of being a part of EDGE engaging and worthwhile for every minute. Based off of past years, we made the decision to let members chomp at the researching bit longer. It is very difficult to start producing meaningful research after a month of being in the organization for a trip that won’t come for another 7 to 8 months. We’re confident that putting off research until the spring semester and instead focusing on educating members about issues that Africa, Uganda, and Lingira Island face will get enable students to come up with research that will be very well suited to the needs of Lingira. (The trade-off is that the research part of our work is a huge pull for membership, and we need to sustain interest throughout this period in order to not lose the most zealous members.)

We were really fortunate to be able to link up with Robert Enholm Exec. VP of Citizens for Global Solutions, a Washington organization that lobbies and raises awareness about the continued need for meaningful international relations on the individual and state level. Robert gave a great lecture in mid-September and gave our internationally inclined group a lot to be excited about. It is our intent to continue hosting lecturers throughout the year, especially those UW faculty members who work everyday on the issues we are trying to address.

Currently we are planning our third annual banquet celebration on November 12th. This will be a fundraising event for EDGE, but also an opportunity to dwell on our shared success in working to transform Lingira Island. (If you wish to attend, email wisconsin.edge@gmail.com.) Such events are great for creating awareness of what we do and why it's a great thing to be a part of.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, we’ve been getting wonderful reports from the island about the progress of their garden project. The students and faculty were ambitious and excited enough about the garden to try planting a month or two before the dry season ended. They had planted a large area of the garden with sweet potatoes after preparing the soil. Since then, we have heard that the students are already eating greens out of the garden, which is a huge step towards a nutrient-rich diet for the students in many ways, especially given Ugandan’s usual skepticism of leafy greens. Though we have not yet received word of how planting went, it should have finished a couple weeks ago. What we know for sure is that the kids and teachers are excited about having somewhere to be working and growing.

A final note: we are in the early stages of working out how to transport and place several dozen Household Water Treatment Systems (HWTS) on the island. We’ve been working with an engineer who has designed a unique sort of filter that will cost $13/unit and deliver all of the safe drinking water a family needs for several years. Our goal is to assemble them on the island next summer and distribute them at a subsidized cost to those who wish to take up one of the filters.

Please stay in touch as we build towards another round of researching and implementing hand-crafted solutions for Lingira Island. We’ll do our best… you may have seen our sort of “promo video”, if not, here it is.


Many thanks and best wishes,



Sam, Paul and teachers in front of the new fence
Sam, Paul and teachers in front of the new fence

To our followers and supporters,

The return of our travelers in July marks the end of a third successful year of The EDGE Project partnering with Lingira Island. Though the group was much smaller this year, (three people,) they were able to do a lot of wonderful work implementing this years projects, while monitoring the success of past years’ projects. Karla, Sam, and Paul send greetings from the island to all of our friends and supporters everywhere!

Over the course of the team’s five-week trip, EDGE was able to make progress on several primary projects, mostly with the secondary school. The first and largest was bringing resources to the secondary school that were required to start a demonstration garden. This meant building the fence itself, out of materials able to withstand hungry cattle, which easily occupied the travelers and two hired workers for two weeks. We hope for the garden to help feed the school, teach the community, and give a sort of productive outlet for children. Thus, in leaving island, we arranged for an energetic Ugandan man to educate and lead the garden up through planting. We know that the students and teachers are excited to have a new “classroom” and will do their best to tend “the greenest garden in Uganda.” To our delight, we have already received news that they tilled the full acre and that the garden work is becoming a regular part of life at school!

Another exciting development in EDGE’s work on the island deals with some Ugandan-based organizations. We invited our friends from AGYA (Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association) to provide a creative, fun-filled weekend for the secondary school boys and girls. Dance, rap, poetry and drawing filled the kids’ day, allowing them to express themselves through previously unimagined outlets. Life at school and on the island is monotonous and starkly boring and the students were much more open after the experience. The day ended with a group sexual education and HIV/AIDS awareness discussion lead by the leaders of AGYA. This was to answer recently inflamed concerns about HIV/AIDS rates, which are ghastly high. Because of the success of this creative development weekend, EDGE and AGYA are currently working out a sustainable partnership that will bring them to Lingira on a more regular basis. We have also been inspired to pursue approaches to development that work to change the world view of both kids and adults, to help them view themselves for their place in the world.

Another facet of approaching the plethora of societal problems, that plague women and girls is educating the populous on their human, civil, women’s, or children’s rights. With the help of WORI (Women’s Rights Initiative) based in Jinja, EDGE will be conducting civil rights awareness campaigns for women, men and children in all areas of Lingira. The end goal is to challenge peoples’ idea of family and community roles by teaching both of the sexes across all ages. Like many others, we’ve seen that a solution to gender inequality can’t happen only through women (though we will continue such projects!). Men are as much a problem as they are a potential solution and we hope to begin researching an array of methodologies to lift up both men and women.

A coincidental reflection on that philosophy comes as we welcome a new leadership committee, which is a diverse blend of culture and sex. We’re looking forward to another year of learning and building. And, in fact, we’ve already begun to outline where we’ll be taking research this year and what goals we will be targeting for the island. Check back for more updates! And we and Lingira thank you many times over for your continued support of our work.


Dear Donors and Supporters,

I can't believe it's already May!  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were planning our semester kick-off meeting.  This has been a very busy spring for EDGE: We had our 3rd annual Benefit Concert and "Swap and Bop," held elections for our new administrative board, finalized our projects, and decided on our new batch of travelers...

Speaking of, I am incredibly proud to announce that EDGE will be sending 2 of our "EDGE Boys" to the Island this summer!  Led by our expert traveler, Karla Lund (who traveled to the island twice), Paul Atwell and Sam Matthews are ready to move to the implementation stage of their research projects.  As the team leaders for the Agriculture team and the Environment team respectively, their projects include creating an irrigation system at the secondary school, a composting program, and a school garden.  Sam wrote up a great blog post about EDGE's summer goals on the island.  Check it out here: http://svmatthews.blogspot.com/

Coincidentally, Sam and Paul are also the newly elected Co-Directors for next semester!  Their experiences on the island will undoubtedly be beneficial to the future leadership of the EDGE Project, especially because many of our travelers are finally graduating--including myself!  

Thank you all for your support this semester!  Don't forget to check out our blog this summer for updates on travel, events, and all things EDGE! http://www.wisconsinedgeproject.blogspot.com/

Dear Donors and Supporters,

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays!  The semester has finally ended, and most EDGE members are resting up for next semester!  I'd like to take a moment to reflect on 2010.  We had a great semester and I really enjoyed working with the new board members.  Also, I'd like to thank all of our amazing new members, who have  shown tremendous dedication and commitment to our work in Lingira. I'm many new members will travel to the island this summer! It's great to have fresh ideas brought to the table, and of course, new friends!

Perhaps my favorite memory of 2010 was planning and attending the Annual Banquet.  Although planning events can get quite stressful, everyone pitched in and I think it went amazingly well!  With over 100 guests we made over $1,000!  Thank you so much to all of our attendees!

EDGE has a lot to look forward to this spring, as well as a lot of work to do.  We'll be finalizing our project for the summer, as well as deciding who will be this year's travelers!  I am excited to announce that  Michelle Mazzeo, one of the co-founders of EDGE and previous traveler, will hopefully be leading the trip this year!  Michelle is a seasoned traveler, and is very familiar with Lingira Island and the creator of the Lingira Girls Football Club.  I think she will be very valuable to this summer travelers!

Attached to this Project Report is our Winter edition of our newsletter, EDGEside.  Enjoy!

Thank you so much for all the support you have given us this year.  Happy New Year!


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Organization Information

Tawi Inc.

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​tawiuw.org
Tawi Inc.
Project Leader:
Paul Atwell
Madison, WI United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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