Education
 Uganda
Project #9252

Food for Thought- Feed Schoolchildren in Uganda

by Mpambara Cox Foundation
Vetted
Stanley was slain and left outside MCF offices
Stanley was slain and left outside MCF offices

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

MCF ended the year 2015 with a tragedy. Stanley Rugirehe (63), MCF's night-watchman was brutally murdered by thieves outside MCF offices on the night of Dec 4, 2015. The burglars used a brick to hit him repeatedly in the face, stomped on his back severing his spine and left him lying face down, outside the offices.  

What were the burglars after? Computers and laptops. And they got them. 

MCF has worked hard throughout the years to realize a strategy that the Board mandated in 2011 that required us to focus on activities that would generate income in-country in order to reduce reliance on donations for operational funding. By 2013, we had succeeded. The slaying of our night-watchman was a great loss to MCF of a decent, hardworking man that died while on duty and it also robbed us of our critical funding that we are now seeking to rebuild.  

 

 
Today for us is critical. 
 
Why is today critical? Because our income-generating capacity built over 5 years has been curtailed by the theft that headlines this letter. 
 
In 2008, when I started this foundation, I never thought that I would be writing a new year letter  that is bleak with gory pictures all tainted by the stress that comes with this 'commander-in-chief-like' horrible feeling that grips your heart and wrestles with it as you go through the motions of feeling directly responsible for someone's death - on your watch, at your 'doorstep'. The normal course of year-end or new year messaging is to find that perfect picture of a smiling beneficiary, list accomplishments, add in the challenges, share hopes and ask that we do more. This 'abnormal' letter is one that sadly falls in sync with all the great suffering around us - Syria, San Bernadino, Paris, etc., forcing a new beginning and in search of a new perspective. 
 
 
The theft has left us without the ability to generate income. 
Stanley's warm blood dripped out of his body and made it's way to the front doors of MCF; right to the place where they forced the metal grille open and entered to access the machines in our internet cafe, our women's sewing enterprise, public library, computer training school and staff offices that our building houses. 
 
What they took in just moments, was years of hard work and a life leaving MCF back to 2011 when we relied on donations to operate.  
 
A ray of hope and a gift for MCF from Stanley's widow
Even in the face of adversity, MCF has always done the right thing. In addressing this tragedy, MCF staff attended the funeral and while there learned that Stanley's widow, Beatrice, was a basket weaver. She is a very talented woman who we have decided to help in addition to my personal pledge to pay Stanley's salary for one year to support her family  (7 children and 13 grandchildren). Beatrice gave MCF baskets as a gift MCF as a token of her appreciation for the 6 years that he worked for us and we paid him a salary that supported them. She told us how she often thanked God that he had a decent job that paid him every month. A monthly payment is not be taken for granted in Uganda. Many go 3 months without pay and are perpetually in salary arreas. 
MCF is now working with Beatrice to help her establish a basket business; some of those baskets will be coming to the US where we will sell them to support her at the National Cathedral.
MCF has already replaced 3 laptops thanks to the donation made by our partners and friends - WMI (Women's Microfinance Initiative) and a few donations. We intended to tell Stanley's story, save 7 MCF jobs, keep the only public library in town open, persevere with our mission of spreading literacy (both digital and books) and improving schools. I feel strongly that that is right thing to do and a better day will be here with your help. 
 
That better day will be here if we can galvanize enough support to help us rebuild our capacity to generate income. We are downsizing our programs and we do have 2 Peace Corps Volunteers arriving at the end of February in Kabale. 
The need
Our request is for donations to help us replace our computers, laptops and other computer hardware that supported our computer training school. We also are seeking to install good outdoor lighting to ensure staff safety since most of them work till after dark. 
 
The future
Together with you, my hope is that we can restore what was MCF's ability to lift the community in the many ways we have over the past 7 years. Will you help us today? 
 
On behalf of the Board, we wish you a Happy New Year and may peace be on earth! 

 

In gratitude,  

 

Anita 

Anita M. Cox - President

MCF Board

Dr Jim Rotholz - Vice President

Dr Bruce Cox - Board Member

Mr. Dan O'Brien - Board Member

The opening the thieves used to enter MCF offices
The opening the thieves used to enter MCF offices
MCF staff all attend Stanley
MCF staff all attend Stanley's funeral
Stanley
Stanley's widow (on the left) is a basket weaver
A basket gifted to MCF - handwoven by Beatrice
A basket gifted to MCF - handwoven by Beatrice
MCF projects were interesting and varied
MCF projects were interesting and varied
Arriving in Uganda
For twenty months, I had an experience that I won’t soon forget. From November 2013, when I landed in Africa, I was struck with new people, scents, and an extremely rich culture. I arrived with 46 eager PeaceCorps volunteers; all of us took three months of intensive cross-cultural training together to get ready to teach English and help serve in the communities in which we would be placed. The assignments couldn’t have come sooner and meeting the local community members remains one of my fondest memories. The kindness that I received from everyone was endearing, accepting, and loving.

Working with Mpambara Cox Foundation (MCF) was truly a gift.
This amazing organization made it possible for me to execute ideas successfully; having their support was a crucial part of my service throughout. Daily, I worked with my supervisor, Enos Tweteise, as well as Anita Cox, the founder/ president of the foundation. Anita and Enos work very closely, hand-in-hand, passing ideas off to one another and making sure that they are executed efficiently. He was on the ground in Kabale with me and I ran all of my ideas through him. Enos is one of the most proactive people I have ever worked with - both in the U.S. and Uganda. I am very lucky to have worked alongside him as he was so understanding and helpful and I learned a lot from him. Anita was also incredible to work with. I found her to be extremely hard working and positive, encouraging me to continue coming up with ideas and to be creative. She is very driven to make a difference and has an amazing vision for her community; she has done so much wonderful work in Uganda over the last 7 years. Anita and Enos run an efficient solid team of 7 staff in Kabale in an office that is the envy of many for their organization, superb service delivery and commitment to community. The visiting GlobalGiving representative gave the same comments when he visited MCF while I was serving there. 

It was through MCF that I was assigned to Kengoma Primary School, a small compassionate school just outside the town of Kabale. I loved walking to school every day and taking in the breathtaking scenery. Kabale is in the southwest region of the country, filled with lush green hills, surrounded by beautiful lakes. I taught P4, just as the pupils were transitioning from the local language to English. These bright kids enjoyed my classes and soon understood my way of speaking very well. I also could use my Rukiga to communicate certain things (I speak 2 other languages). The bond that I formed with the pupils at Kengoma was incredible. I felt a sense of accomplishment because my kids were very smart and always eager to learn. 

 

"The Rainbow School System" transforms learning spaces through unique programs
Along with teaching, MCF helped me to complete some wonderful projects all of which were designed with the overall mission of encouraging pupils to stay in school. With the help of a wonderful colleague, Jamie, we embarked on painting each classroom a different color of the rainbow as part of “The Rainbow School System” that moves up to the next color as the pupils move up in their class levels. It provided the pupils with a sense of belonging and purpose while giving each of the seven classrooms a more appealing learning environment. The teachers at Kengoma were very excited to get their classrooms painted, and they were very supportive. After about two weeks of hard work painting every day, the project was completed and Kengoma now looks very vibrant! It stands out in front of the other schools and looks warm and inviting. I hope that other schools will follow in the same foot-steps. Jamie and I also painted a school sign with a rainbow, the name of the school, and the program. It is now hanging up on the wall of the school so every person, boda-boda (bike) and car that passes by the school can see it. 

 

A school garden starts at Kengoma to supports MCF's school-feeding program
Our second project was building a sustainable school garden with the help from the parents, pupils, and teachers. Anita raised the funds for the school garden in a short amount of time and I was filled with joy to know that the project could start. All the pupils were excited to get into the garden and start planting. We planted cabbage, carrots, and spinach. The pupils loved getting involved and learned how to plant very well using rural planting techniques given to us by a local MCF board member and NAADS (National Agriculture Advisory Services) trained Consultant. I am very proud of this project, because the pupils got to see how the plants are growing every day as part of their learning. It is something that without their dedication would not be a success. In addition, parental involvement was also key; parents helped to pull out the weeds from the garden to keep it maintained. Each child was able to enjoy a meal and to take home some carrots and cabbage to share with their families. This was my favorite secondary project that I did because it involved the entire community. The parents, teachers, and pupils were all very happy and grateful. So was I. Kengoma is the only school in the area with a school-feeding program that provides the children with a daily meal.

I felt very lucky!
Not many Peace Corps Volunteers engage in or much less start and complete such unique projects during their time serving and none of these wonderful projects would have been possible without MCF’s commitment to my goals. The “Rainbow School System” was Anita’s idea and it felt great to be part of the very first school that implemented this innovative initiative. The next Peace Corps volunteer that is lucky enough to work with her will be hugely grateful for a great experience as I am.

Unfortunately, I had to end my service in Uganda 6 months earlier than I intended due to family reasons back home. I left with a heavy heart but I feel good about the fond memories and the accomplishments that I made with the amazing team of people that I met there. I miss the market, the people, MCF, and most importantly, the children. I hope that I can return and visit someday to once again meet my now lifelong friends, be part of the scents and immerse myself in that extremely rich culture. I will never forget the Bakiga and my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in that beautiful country – Uganda.

 

Please continue your support
Thank you for supporting MCF, they are making a lasting difference to so many children in Kabale and as a Peace Corps partner they help the US place volunteers in areas where it matters.
The more you give, the more impact they will have; ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME!
The Rainbow System transforms a learning space
The Rainbow System transforms a learning space
Engaging the children for games and in the garden
Engaging the children for games and in the garden
With my supervisor Enos on Peace Corps Anniversary
With my supervisor Enos on Peace Corps Anniversary
Earth Day and the garden project is underway!
Earth Day and the garden project is underway!
Painting Primary 6 Orange in the Rainbow School
Painting Primary 6 Orange in the Rainbow School
The painting goes on...this is Primary 4
The painting goes on...this is Primary 4
The Rainbow School System sign that we made
The Rainbow School System sign that we made
Children engaged in their school garden
Children engaged in their school garden
Reading to the children daily
Reading to the children daily
How I felt during my final days...Thank you MCF!
How I felt during my final days...Thank you MCF!

Links:

Olive in her business started with a microloan
Olive in her business started with a microloan

Hello!

Gifting mothers is always tough. You aim to please. Is there a more pleasing gift to receive than one that speaks of inspiration, of kindness and of understanding? Giving a mother's day gift that lifts a mother out of poverty has to be inspirational; it speaks of your own heart. It beats those temporary gestures of kindness - roses, scented lotions, even that meal because it gives a fellow mother the opportunity to alter the course of her life in a society that still largely marginalizes and relegates women to second place socially, culturally and economically. We are asking you to donate to honor your mother or maybe her memory. But please do so after you read about our work below and the strides we have made. 

THE PROBLEM: It was the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong who said, “Women hold up half the sky.” Today over 900 women supported by microloans from MCF are holding up their part of the sky with pride. After reading the book “Half the Sky,” by Nick Kristoff and his wife Sheryl WuDunn one realizes that in this 21st century, millions and millions of women only exist: they don't live. They don’t bother or even dare to look up to the sky, much less raise their arms and feel like they are “holding up” something as important as the sky that we all live under. In the U.S., 'the field' is not level, but legislation and hardwork have ensured that women can 'get on and play' but in Uganda and most of Africa, most women don't have access to 'the field'. How do we change that? Through empowerment! Economic empowerment that gives women a real opportunity and guidance to show that they have what it takes. MCF staff and mentors have looked at impoverished women in our microloan program squarely in the eye and told them that there is hope and that they can do it. And something amazing has happened. Over 900 women have been empowered! They seized the opportunity and like Olive below, have made it out of poverty they are on the 'field and playing'.  

Olive, our microfinance beneficiary, was one of those millions of women who only exist. Illiterate, poor and married with five children, the whole feeling of holding up the sky was not in her frame of reference before May 2010.  She and her husband had struggled to pay for the increasing cost of living. School fees were rising, and as they continued to have more children their daily expenses were steadily increasing. They worried whether or not they would be able to send all of their children to school or pay for medicine. Her children were attending Kengoma Primary School in Kabale, Uganda—a Mpambara Cox Foundation (MCF) supported school—when she heard about the call for women to come and listen to a proposed microfinance program at her children’s school. That program–Women In Support of Education (WISE)–was designed by MCF  to help mothers like Olive keep their children in school.  She was among the first women to show up at the school in early May 2010 and immediately knew she wanted to join a group.

THE SOLUTION: At about the same time in Rockville, MD, 20 women were getting together over dinner to learn about micro-finance and to support the first WISE group.  After a briefing by MCF president, Anita, and WMI (Women’s Microfinance Initiative) president, Robyn, each of the invited guests donated $150 for each of the 20 Kengoma women.  This kick-started the MCF/WMI partnership to empower rural women in Uganda.  Now, almost six years later, that $150 has grown into a dream capital fund that is self-sustaining, banking over $50,000 per year. The fund is dedicated to the advancement of Elsie Lushaya Women’s Group (ELWG) – a group of impoverished mothers exclusively drawn from Mpambara Cox Foundation’s supported UPE (Universal Primary Education) schools in Kabale, Uganda.

WISE COLOURS GROUP PictureThe first WISE groups back in 2010 Photo: MCF

THE PROCESS: Olive survived the ‘peer-weeding’ process (a ruthless removal of those considered untrustworthy), underwent financial literacy training, passed the tests, attended  planning meetings and formally joined a group of 20 WISE women in June 2010.  The next month she received her first loan, 300,000 Uganda Shillings or $150 (at 2010 exchange rates). She made the all important “WISE Pledge”. The condition that her children were to remain in school and their attendance would matter—something she admits she never really fully understood at first. The loan would enable her to start her own business, she knew that this was her chance to help ensure her children would all receive an education. Olive then rented a small space in her neighborhood and began selling soda and beer to those living in her village. She began receiving shipments from beverage companies and selling the drinks both retail and wholesale to her loyal customers. For two years Olive continued growing her business with the loans from MCF, dutifully paying them back as scheduled.

Olive in her Nyakijumba shopOlive in her Nyakijumba shop Photo: JBlatter

On March 6, 2013, she qualified to became a WISER Woman—a program that introduces responsible borrowers to main-stream banking with surety provided by MCF/WMI.  Olive underwent additional training and was able to borrow $600 or 1m Uganda shillings directly from the bank, effectively making her a millionaire in Ugandan currency. Now, Olive’s beverage store is filled from floor to ceiling with beverage crates.  One expects that she would say she sells a crate every couple of days. “No,” she says with a pride-filled smile, “I sell a crate in a couple of hours.” How amazing! 

MCF’s WISE has been so successful and exponentially grown. With your help we now add 40 women per quarter to the Elsie Lushaya Women’s Group (ELWG) that Olive joined back in May 2010. She is hailed as a success story in her village and is now a counselor to many other women that have since joined ELWG.  As one of almost 900 women in 10 villages spread-out all over the hilly landscape, Olive remains illiterate but is no longer impoverished or marginalized. Each year she celebrates alongside her peers as they march through Kabale town in what is now a parade that aims to showcase these tough and hardworking women as beacons of success - empowerment! 

MCF Women's Empowerment march through Kabale town Photo: MCF

WHERE YOU COME IN:  Your donations help us expand the program to more women. While children are the center of our work, we cannot help the next generation escape poverty without the direct involvement and support of the parents. Olive is now committed to helping them get the best that she can offer thanks to counseling sessions from WISE. That is a true measure of success for a woman who just five years ago thought she would have to choose which of her children would remain in school and which ones would drop-out. “We continue to work hard to keep the family, happy, healthy, and educated,” says Olive. Looking at Olive squarely in the eyes, one sees a new found belief in self. Her dignity is secure. Her debts are paid. Her floor is cemented and her sales are soaring! Another important point that cannot be overlooked, her husband is a 'openly' supportive partner helping where he can to run the business.

Will you help us empower more women today? Your donation today, however big or small, will make a difference for other mothers like Olive for whom the opportunity of getting on 'the field' is still only a dream. 

Thank you and Happy Mother's Day! 

Olive and family with MCF Peace Corps Volunteer
Olive and family with MCF Peace Corps Volunteer
WISE women march through Kabale town
WISE women march through Kabale town

Links:

MLK Day 2014 - A Skype Session in Progress
MLK Day 2014 - A Skype Session in Progress

Dear Donors, Supporters and Friends, 

The first month of the year has gone by quite quickly, hasn't it? Before we get firmly into February, we wanted to share our 2014 accomplishments with you.

MCF is turning 7 years old in 2015! We have come a long way since that day in May 2008 when we started programming in Kabale, Uganda. Lessons have been learned, successes celebrated and even a retooling of the way we do things. The greatest lessons of 2014 was understanding what it means to persevere and stand firmly with those we are dedicated to helping.

We didn't get this far without your help and so we owe you our gratitude and we pass along the gratitude of those in the Kiga community that benefit from our poverty alleviation work. This year, we bring you our inaugural "Annual Accomplishments in Pictures" report. Look for a more detailed annual report to be completed and e-mailed soon. 

Thanks again for your support and we hope you join us in 2015 to continue making a difference through programs that deliver immediate impact thanks to our intimate knowledge of the communities where we work and our unique program design with stake-holder input. As a Diaspora-led organization with new partnerships and a reconstituted working team, we are positioned to bring greater change in 2015. But we need your support. 

Wishing you all the best in 2015. 

OUR 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENTS 

Jan - Penpals get busy writing letters on MLK Day
Jan - Penpals get busy writing letters on MLK Day
In Uganda - Penpals receive their letters
In Uganda - Penpals receive their letters
Jan 2014 - Global Fellows on their annual trip
Jan 2014 - Global Fellows on their annual trip
Feb - A new school year starts with porridge
Feb - A new school year starts with porridge
Mar - DEAR Day 2014 was all about reading
Mar - DEAR Day 2014 was all about reading
Apr - New library programs bring new patrons
Apr - New library programs bring new patrons
May - Peace Corps volunteer joins MCF Kabale Team
May - Peace Corps volunteer joins MCF Kabale Team
June - WISE micro-finance grows to over 850 women!
June - WISE micro-finance grows to over 850 women!
July - Team MCF hosts US visitors in Kabale
July - Team MCF hosts US visitors in Kabale
Also in July - Chinese students fund-raise for MCF
Also in July - Chinese students fund-raise for MCF
The Shanghai ladies visit US, meet MCF president
The Shanghai ladies visit US, meet MCF president
August - More WISE groups form for micro-loans
August - More WISE groups form for micro-loans
Sep - Yoganda (Yoga-Uganda), partners with MCF
Sep - Yoganda (Yoga-Uganda), partners with MCF
Oct - MCF invited to Peace Corps 50th anniversary
Oct - MCF invited to Peace Corps 50th anniversary
Nov - Our first fellows take national exams!
Nov - Our first fellows take national exams!
Dec - a 9-year-old dreams of desks for these kids
Dec - a 9-year-old dreams of desks for these kids
Dec - She fundraises and MCF delivers her dream
Dec - She fundraises and MCF delivers her dream

Links:

Edison (left) and Joram (right)
Edison (left) and Joram (right)

Edison (on the left) is one of two students for whom MCF made primary and secondary school possible. For four years, he and Joram (on the right) have been the pioneer secondary school beneficiaries and they just recently completed their secondary school exams! They are now headed to 'higher' or the last two years of high school. I have known and mentored both of these brilliant boys since they joined our program.

This story is about Edison; it serves to illustrate the depth of MCF’s reach as a community program committed to bringing change at  many different levels through unique programs that are solving the poverty problem. 

Edison was a primary six student in one of the first MCF partner schools in 2009. Orphaned an at early age, Edison moved to the village of Nyakijumba to live with his aunt and attended a  government school set on the side of a road. If you or I approached the school, a first impression would be just how dangerously it is nestled close to a thoroughfare that runs from Mbarara to Kabale town with cars, buses, trailers, and cyclists all zooming past the tiny school.

Edison, as one of the beneficiaries when the program started in 2009 with the commencement of a porridge program, was part of a 192 student body.  There was no running water in the school. The cooking program relied on ‘water fetchers’ to provide all the water from a stream about 1.5 miles away to cook the porridge and wash all the utensils. The water fetchers proved unreliable, sometimes not showing up when it rained for instance. On one such day, Edison’s aunt, Esther, who had been hired as a cook asked Edison to go and fetch water before school hours. He rose at about 5 am that morning and went off to fetch the water. By the time the school bell rang, he had fetched enough water for the entire cooking day and was in his uniform ready for school!

His aunt suggested the MCF pay him a stipend to provide the water. The stipend of $10 per month would help him buy books , shoes, pencils and a mathematical set. For the next two years Edison did all the water fetching for the program at his school. Edison worked, fetching water, and never missed a day, rain or shine. If necessary, he made arrangements for someone else to help him or fill in.

In 2010, Edison sat for his PLE exams and passed well thanks to his own hardwork and our help in providing him the support he needed. MCF, impressed with how studious he was, how committed he was to the program, and just how hard he had worked during the school year to pass the exams, offered him the first secondary school scholarship: the Global Fellows Program, which consists of a leadership training program. In this program, MCF works to ‘expand horizons’ and mentor fellows to help them break from their limited tribal borders and learn to appreciate the diverse country that Uganda is.

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Jan 2014 Expanding Horizons Trip for scholarship students to visit Kilembe Mines in Kasese (Edison is the tallest one) 

With “Expanding Horizons,” Edison has traveled to over 10 Ugandan towns since 2011, learning about 5 different tribes of peoples who differ from his own. He has visited industry centers, mines, Uganda’s parliament, historic sites, the premier University of Uganda, and will this year travel internationally for the first time.

Edson scholarhip student cropped.IMG_1782Edison at secondary school                

Today, Edison has completed his “O” level exams. Compare “O” level to Grade 10 at the end of middle school. We know his resolve and we expect him to do well. MCF will then embark upon the journey to ensure that he completes his secondary school and enter a university to obtain a college degree. Edison aspires to become an engineer.

This Giving Tuesday will you help Edison and many others like him realize their dreams? It is because of you that children like Edison have made it this far. Help us get them further. We need your support. 

Thank you! 

 

Handing out back to school supplies
Handing out back to school supplies

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Mpambara Cox Foundation

Location: Rockville, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mcoxfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Anita Mpambara Cox
President
Rockville, MD United States
$11,828 raised of $20,000 goal
 
126 donations
$8,172 to go
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