It is exhilarating that as planned our mentoring programme has produced active citizens who are proactively innovating, initiating, and facilitating processes intended to improve standards of living in their communities. There are indications that some of our mentees are now able to conduct rational analyses of their own attitudes and actions; and of the existing social, cultural, economic and political relationships in their communities, as it is the intention of our programme.
Most importantly, also, furthermore, some of our mentees are motivated to the extent that they have already started attempting to take action to contribute to the greater good. And for this reason, we are now at the stage of empowering them with resource mobilization skills; which skills they need in order to fundraise and mobilize other resources needed to implement their good ideas.
As the lead mentor, as I began to prepare my notes for a mentoring session on fundraising, I felt unsure. So, I decided to tap into the wealth of knowledge provided through the GlobalGiving Platform. I thought, let me do a quick refresher fundraising course. I enrolled for the Philanthropy University Fundraising Course, thinking I would complete it in one day. I was wrong. The course’s welcome and module one shocked me to the reality of how so outdated my fundraising skills are and how much more fundraising skills I need to learn in order to be a good mentor for fundraising.
Take for instance, my fundraising writing skills. Using learning from the course, I did a readability test on the approved text that we use to describe our organisation’s vision, mission and objectives. The results: “Readability consensus – based on (7) readability formulas we have scored your text: Grade Level – 30; Reading Level – Impossible to comprehend; Reader’s age: college graduate.” This surprised me a lot. But I followed the guidance provided, edited the text until I was able to improve its readability score to 63.3.
I am continuing with the course, which I hope to complete by the end of October 2022, and in November 2022, use my learning to support our mentees as they too go through the Philanthropy University Fundraising Course accessed to us via the GlobalGiving Platform. It is our expectation that our learning from the course will help us to increase the volume of donations to CPAR Uganda on the GlobalGiving Platform, especially towards the innovative projects of our mentees.
And, this will enable us to work towards our vision of people in Greater Northern Uganda being able to meet their basic and genuine needs – that they have access to good healthcare, healthy food and viable livelihoods. We are therefore forever indebted to our donors and other supporters whose donations make it possible for us to access both financial and technical advice through the GlobalGiving platform that enable us to do good.
Two young adults, beneficiaries of our mentoring programme, have trully come of age as innovators against poverty for their respective rural communities. With guidance from our lead mentor, our two budding innovators, did participatory action research and consultations within their respective communities and on that basis authored a project proposal each.
The first one, "500 women of Ochelakur Sub-County access finance," is an affirmative action project that will facilitate households of a disadvantaged and traditionally fishing community that is no longer permitted fishing livelihoods due to government fishing restrictions on Lake Kyoga to transition to other livelihood options and to improve their quality of life. Five hundred women will access finance and financial literacy training sessions; be able to start and to operate viable businesses through which they will earn a living; and be able to meet the basic needs - food, water, clothing, shelter - of their respective households.
The second one, "Welding apprenticeships for 25 youth in Pader Town Council," will contribute to youth of a marginalized disadvantaged rural community to attain sustainable artisanal livelihood skills that are necessary to reverse the poor quality of life their community endures, due to livelihood crisis adduced to effects of the Lord Resistance Army insurgency, climate change and marginalization by the Government of Uganda. It will equip 25 youth with life skills and knowledge to become welders and to earn income which they can use to meet the basic and the genuine needs of their respective households – they will be able to provide their households with food, water, clothing, shelter, as well as to pay fees for healthcare services and schooling.
Both projects have been approved for fundraising on the GlobalGiving platform. This has really excited and energised our innovators. Our lead mentor continues to work with the two innovators, horning thier fundraising skills. With effect from 1st June 2022 it is expected that the two innovators will work full-time as their respective project team-leaders, under the direct supervision of the lead mentor; and with mentorship from other CPAR Uganda staff. The two innovators will be responsible for ensuring and assuring the implementation of their respective projects.
Thank you to our donors for the moral support and financial contributions that are enabling us to contribute towards the building of healthy communities by the communities themselves - stimulating self-reliant participatory development. Your support and contributions make it possibile for us to produce rural innovators who will positively impact the lives of hundreds of households in their respective rural communities. Our journey continues in the right direction and we look forward to what this next step that we have taken shall bring.
There is excitement among us all as the journeys of the beneficiaries of our mentoring programme take shape. Six of our mentees, indeed, have shown exceptional qualities in being true innovators for the greater good of their ancestral communities. And so, we, at CPAR Uganda, will be harnessing their positive attitude and their determination in order to design and to launch our rural innovators programme in 2022.
Two of those exceptional six mentees we have already employed and are part of our full-time paid staff members. Four of them are currently participating in an 18-month empirical research study which CPAR Uganda is hosting. They are participating as research assistants and also researchers under mentorship of top academics.
We are buoyed that in the six exceptional mentees, our mentoring project has delivered our promise that it will contribute to human development in the form of skilled personnel that have experienced an awakening process, which will lead them to a rational analysis of their own attitudes and actions, as well as the existing social, cultural, economic and political relationships in their region.
We have every confidence that the six are already building on their now achieved critical awareness, and they will effectively initiate and will promote processes for personal, family, community and national development. This will be the very essence of our new rural innovators programme.
And so, starting February 2022, we will share projects initiated or inspired by our mentees for the greater good of their ancestral communities on our page on the GlobalGiving platform and we have every confidence that those series of projects under our rural innovators programme will meet with the support of our current donors on the GlobalGiving platform and that they will also attract support from other donors. Exciting times indeed!
And so we are indebted to our donors and all other supporters for believing in us when we simply had an idea. With your support we have journeyed and have achieved positive impact. Thank you.
"I am really happy that Dr. Ben Jones has reprogrammed my mindset and has made research more relaxed and very interesting," shared Innovator Jimmy Ezra Okello.
Further insight into how and why Dr. Jones has succeeded in positively impacting our lives was provided by Innovator Robert Oluka, who testified that: "working with Dr. Jones as a research assistant, I am getting to know the best techniques of data collection, like participant observation. In this approach, I learnt to be simple, friendly, and use psychology to get quality data."
Some may take it for granted, but to us here in Uganda, the impact of us working alongside Dr. Jones is hugely significant. Consider, for example, the impact it has had on Innovator James Opolo, who enlighted us as follows: "I knew data collection as using questionnaires. Through the mentorship of Dr. Jones, I am learning ethnographic data collection - about getting concrete and detailed data from the field."
Similarly, Innovator Vicky Alum shared: "Under the supervision of Dr. Jones, I have learnt so many ways in which one can collect data - like mapping, observation and hanging out; which have simplified our work. I know know that research does not have to be the most difficult thing to do."
And for making an activity that we prior thought difficult simple, Dr. Jones has enhanced our lives beyond our work and has as well impacted our individual personal development within our communities. Acio Sharon Enon, for example, shared: "As we do data collection under the supervision of Dr. Jones, I have developed friendships with people within my community who I did not know before. I am getting business ideas from our interviewees."
Observing Dr. Jones do fieldwork in an extraordinary manner, which is not the norm among Ugandan academics, is refreshing. He is actually out there, deep in a rural setting, living there in humble abode, blending in and doing hands-on data collection, working side by side with his research assistants, young innovators, beneficiaries of our project, whom he is at the same time mentoring.
For me, as well, a budding academic who is revisiting my desire to restart and to pursue studies for an award of a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD), Dr. Jones is an inspiration. He has made me believe again that I can do it simply, albeit with hard work. Dr. Jones has completely demystified academic research for us.
By his effective mentoring, Dr. Jones has enabled us to significantly achieve on the objectives of our project that we would mentor young adults into persons with an inquisitve mind, and with an affinity for critical thinking for the purpose of effectively taking note of what is happening in their surroundings; analysising it; and propose solutions for their own good and for the greater good of their communities.
For this reason we are eternally indebted to you, our supporters and donors, for both the financial contributions that you have made to our project, as well as the advisory support - knowledge and skills that you have shared with us. THANK YOU!
We are delighted to report that our Lira Learning Centre has been fully repaired, renovated and security systems beefed up, thanks in part to the unrestricted COVID-19 relief microgrant that our organisation received from GlobalGiving. While we still bear the emotional scars, the physical scars from the May 2020 break in, theft and vandalization of our Lira Learning Centre have been erased and it is now as good as new.
The icing on the cake is that we innovated and we were able to utilize some of that which was vandalized by bad people who took advantage of the COVID-19 induced lock down to break into our Lira Learning Centre. We were able to utilize wood from most of the damaged wooden door shutters and frames, for example, to make shelves and cupboards and to establish reading stations in the Innovator’s Hall, the Reading Room and the Guest House, at our Lira Learning Centre.
Better still, young adults under our mentorship actively participated in bringing back to life our Lira Learning Centre. Some, provided labour at a very modest cost; while some provided their expertise, such as Emmanuel O. who utilized his artistic talent to paint murals on the walls of our outdoor sitting shed (vehicle parking shed converted); and on the walls of our perimeter fence.
It gets even better, our newly refurbished Lira Learning Centre is currently, for a 21 months period starting March 2021, hosting our research and advocacy project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” which we are implementing in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia; and with funding from The British Academy utilizing the British Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.
Seven young adults under our mentorship are directly participating in the implementation of our Challenging Categories project. They are working alongside two distinguished academics, the Principal Investigator and the Co-Investigator, through whom they are being mentored and are getting knowledge and skills on how to conduct empirical qualitative investigations from start to finish. They are also benefiting from the expertise of a media consultant and his team, who are enhancing their media content and navigation skills.
Three young adults from our first cohort of mentees who are continuing their mentorship with us, we have employed on probationary contracts, and, based at our Lira Learning Centre, they are working alongside our Managing Director. They are learning how to do publicity for a nonprofit organisation; and to profitably operate an innovators hall, a small reading room, a small guest house and a kitchen that are owned by a nonprofit organisation to raise funds for our organisation’s charitable work.
We are forever indebted to our donors for without your contribution we would not have the financial resources and the peace of mind to innovate, to implement and to make a significant positive difference in the lives of our direct beneficiaries - young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds, and ultimately their wider communities. To you our donors, we say thank you.
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