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Posts Tagged ‘Development’

This year we have been blessed with the quality and quantity of interns! From our Spring interns (Hilary and Will) who worked on business case studies and how to make your own reusable sanitary pad workshops and community outreach, it has already been a busy year, but we are just getting started!

At the beginning of June we welcomed our 2019 summer interns who will be with us through the end of July. Their main focus will be on compiling on our annual Factbook, interviewing borrowers, working with our Byos Group and Girls Group and content creation.

Meet them below!

NoahCha

Hello! My name is Noah, and I am a rising sophomore from Irvine, California studying Finance at the University of Notre Dame. I enjoy playing basketball and making videos, and I am heavily involved with my campus’ Investment Club and Special Olympics team. I chose to work with WMI to learn more about how individuals in rural communities integrate into developing economies without access to traditional financial institutions. My goal over the course of this internship is to gain a better understanding of the nuances of developing economies and the potential growth opportunities they present.

GraceCollins

My name is Grace Collins. Originally, I am from the small town of Wyoming, Delaware. Currently, I’m a rising junior at Princeton University, concentrating in Politics with potential certificates in Ancient Roman Language & Culture and African Studies. On campus, I’m involved as the president of Whig-Clio, Princeton’s political society. I am also active on the Princeton Debate Panel, the Pace Center for Civic Service, the Glee Club, and the Katzenjammers acapella group. I’m excited to be at WMI because working here is a fantastic opportunity to learn about microfinance and its intersections with gender and economic equality. Additionally, as a student of the region, it’s a privilege to live here in Buyobo for two months and to learn so much from its residents. I’m also very excited to be carrying out a music teaching initiative at Buyobo Primary School while I’m here. Through this project, I will help instruct the students in musicianship and performance art alongside the school’s teachers. With a grant from Princeton’s Class of 1978 Foundation, I will be purchasing a set of new musical instruments including xylophones, tube fiddles, and drums for the students. From interning to teaching, I know that I will learn a lot in my time here, and I’m so excited for the rest of the summer.

KellyCollinsMy name is Kelly Collins. I just graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where I earned a B.S. from the Haas School of Business and a B.A. in Economics.  At Cal, I was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, especially involved within the Philanthropic Committee. My Junior year I studied at the London School of Economics where I concentrated in Management and played on the school’s Field Hockey Team.  In the fall, I will be moving to New York City to begin my first job at Yelp as an Account Executive. The Summer Internship at the Women’s Microfinance Initiative has brought me to Africa for the first time. I am incredibly excited to be working with the Ugandan women, learning about them and their businesses. I hope to investigate how loans impact the scale of a typical business and the ability for women to provide for themselves and their families.  By speaking to borrowers and analyzing survey data I am aiming to draw conclusions on the effects of microfinance in communities of rural east Africa.  Moreover, I can’t wait to spend the weekends exploring other areas around Buyobo, such as Mbale, Sipi Falls, and Jinja, with my fellow interns!

 

CarolinePlouff

Hey y’all, my name is Caroline Plouff and I am originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  I am a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame where I study Political Science and Global Affairs with a concentration in European Studies.  Last semester, I studied abroad in Angers, France where I lived with a host family and took all of my classes in French.  I enjoy travelling, spending time with friends, and trying new foods!  I am so excited to be interning at the Women’s Microfinance Initiative this summer because I believe that grassroots level initiatives, such as microloan programs, can have a powerful effect on how we approach international development.  This summer, I am most looking forward to learning about the loan program in Buyobo and witnessing first-hand, the impact a couple hundred dollars can have on the lives of rural women and their communities.

 

Hi everyone! My name is Nora Tucker and I’m a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame! I am studying Computer Science, with a double minor in Catholic Social Tradition and Digital Marketing. Outside of my classes, I am involved in our wNoraTuckeromen’s boxing team, the engineering leadership council, and my dorm’s hall council as our faith life commissioner. I’m also in the pep band and I work in the Alumni Association. In my free time, I love to run and travel. I am originally from Libertyville, Illinois, a town about an hour north of Chicago! I have a sister and brother and I love spending time with my family and friends. I am thrilled to be in Uganda, working with the Women’s Microfinance Initiative this summer! I am excited about working with this organization because it empowers women financially and has had such positive outcomes for borrowers. I look forward to learning more about the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, especially one that has been so successful and become trusted by the community. I’m also looking forward to teaching lessons to the local boys and girls group that WMI supports, since I love kids and teaching! My first few weeks in Buyobo have been incredible and I can’t wait to see what I learn throughout the rest of the summer!

EthanSeideMy name is Ethan Seide, and I am from Bethesda, Maryland. I am a rising sophomore at Princeton University where I study Operations Research Financial Engineering with an emphasis on machine learning and optimization. I compete on the cycling team, ski team, and club tennis team. I am also a member of the robotics team where we are currently working on constructing an autonomous drone. Ultimately, I would like to found a tech startup that helps people in the developing world, and I believe WMI can help me brainstorm ideas. I came to Buyobo to study the benefits of microfinance and learn about village life in Uganda. I also believe that as an aspiring engineer, I can offer a unique viewpoint in Buyobo. I would like to teach the children in the village about engineering and sustainable energy by doing a project with them. I hope to inspire the children so that in the future they start their own projects to help the community.

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Hello! My name is Hilary, I am 24 years old and from Leicestershire in the UK. My family originates from Ghana so I have two places I call home.

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I studied Law at the University of Manchester in the North West of England, the three years flew by and following my graduation I found myself as a paralegal for a small but delightful law firm in the same location. Having realised my interests were instead peaked by developmental and human rights issues I decided to gain more experience in the field. I undertook a three-month volunteering experience in Burkina Faso where myself and 11 other volunteers worked to advance women’s rights in the rural village of Réo. We achieved this by educating young students and rural communities on HIV, domestic violence, sexual health and hygiene.

By working with WMI I hope to facilitate in the long lasting change to the lives of the women and young girls here, which has been made possible by the loan program. It will also be a great opportunity to assist with the introduction of reusable sanitary pads to the local area, which I also worked on during my time in Burkina.

I also enjoy knitting, baking and travelling. My most recent adventures took me to Melbourne, Australia where I met a string of people, took a thousand too many photos and camped under the stars with the local wallabies. I then toured New Zealand in a giant green kiwi bus. East Africa has been on my list of places to visit for a while and from the moment the plane landed I have not been disappointed.

Following my time in Uganda I will be taking a hop, skip and a jump over to Ghana where I will be working with the International Federation of Women Lawyers  (FIDA) in order to assist lawyers in the protection of women’s rights through 3 main projects. These projects entail gender inclusion and equality, the creation of better access to justice by increasing awareness to women of their rights and finally a research project into the education and literacy rates in a rural village.

In the meantime, I particularly look forward to getting to know the women of WMI and seeing how their business success continues to foster change within their community.

 

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Making my 12th trip to WMI loan program hubs in East Africa, I am delighted to report that the impact of the loan program continues to grow.  We first traveled due west 4 hours from Kampala to the Mubende area where we partner with the Buesessa Community Development Association to off loans and training.  The ladies were enthusiastic in their welcome and so happy I had made the trip that they presented me with many lovely locally-made baskets. They readily escorted us to tour businesses that lined the main roadside.  Business owners reported earning $100 – $500/month from hair braiding salons, dress design and tailoring, shops and sales of maize and beans.

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The lovely women of Buseesa greeting me with hugs and gifts

Many women in the area were refugees from the Rwanda genocide.  As children and young adults, they fled violence and chaos.  In western Uganda they found stability and a chance for a new life.  They were not resettled by an international agency; they did not receive government subsidies or support.  They persevered by virtue of their own hard work and determination.  WMI is proud to be able to offer resources that help their businesses expand and thrive.

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Borrower in her domain helping and greeting customers

The welcome at our WMI HQ in Buyobo was overwhelming. Women’s businesses now dominate the main road through town.  Catering, small restaurants and snack stalls have become common – prepared food is big business in Buyobo.  Household improvements are visible everywhere, from brick houses, to satellite dishes to cows grazing in yards. And, women now dress very smartly!

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Robyn, Jackie (Assistant Director in Buyobo) greeting Olive (Director) during our annual celebration

Our annual celebration for the community was the largest ever, drawing more that 700 women and their families, as well as community leaders and guest speakers.  A day of singing, dancing, marching, musical performances, and speeches ended with a feast catered by our own staff.  What a wonderful way to acknowledge the ongoing accomplishments of the women in the loan program in eastern Uganda, which has now spread throughout Sironko and into Bulambuli, Manafwa and Bududa Districts.

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Borrowers are now able to construct permenant homes

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One of our lovely borrowers in Buseesa

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WMI Ladies preparing food for our annual celebration

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Satellite dishes can be spotted all around Buyobo

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From Lilia:

This summer spent in Buyobo interning for WMI has been such a rewarding and informative experience. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the incredibly hard-working and kind women I got to know this summer at BWA, and watch the trees and mountains pass for the last time on the car ride out of the village, but I know I will come back some day.

Now that I’ve spent a few weeks back at home reflecting on the summer, I realized that I’ve really learned a lot over the past few months, and not only in the ways I expected. On the job, I learned all sorts of new business related skills, like data analysis and graphic design, but I also learned some Lugisu phrases, how to be more flexible and creative due to the the temperamental internet situation, and how important it is to reapply sunscreen after spending a few hours around town conducting interviews with WMI borrowers!

Some of my favourite memories from my internship come from the time spent with the kids who are a part of the orphan outreach program. I loved playing new games with the kids each week, whether Cerina and I were the ones introducing them or the kids taught us. It was really sweet to see the kids reading and colouring on rainy days, and I love that I got to take home some of their adorable pictures. Also, the girls seemed to really enjoy giving me makeovers whenever they got their hands on my hair – which was essentially any time I sat down. It was one of the most refreshing parts of my week, to be around a whole bundle of kids having a good time, giggling and running around with so much energy. One memorable afternoon, one of the youngest girls got a scrape on her forehead, so I took out the first-aid kit and patched it up with a band-aid. Then, all of a sudden, EVERYONE then needed to have a band-aid on their head to look as cool as their friend, and before I knew it, all the band-aids were gone from the box, and on every girl’s head! I like to think I started a fashion trend in Buyobo that day…

I also really enjoyed designing and putting together the Fact Book, which allowed for a lot more fun and creativity than I had expected. It was interesting to see the whole process through from beginning to end, compiling all the data and calculating the statistics. It was eye opening to be seeing first hand the effects of the loan program, interviewing borrowers, visiting businesses and talking with the BWA Board of Directors about their experience with the loan program, and then realizing those effects could be multiplied more than 12,000 times across Uganda and Eastern Africa – it really put the value and success of the program into perspective for me. Looking at the statistics and data, and knowing the reality of empowered women and families they reflected was very encouraging. I especially enjoyed getting creative with the design process to take that information we compiled and calculated, and make it exciting and accessible for others to read. I am looking forward to seeing the published version very soon!

Over the last two months I spent in Buyobo and exploring Uganda, I met so many kind and welcoming people, and saw beautiful natural wonders I won’t forget. I can’t thank the women of WMI and BWA enough for the opportunity to join their team and work alongside them this summer, and I know I will be back to visit before I know it!

From Cerina:

I have officially finished my internship with WMI. Upon reflection, I can honestly say that Uganda delivered in ways that I could never imagine! Firstly, I had more contact with local people than I have ever had when travelling in a different country; which made me feel very in touch with and attached to the country as a whole. I believe that I saw all of Uganda’s sides, as opposed to only those that are readily in a tourist’s sights. My internship was more than data entry and videography, it was building a relationship with the children who we hung out with weekly, learning about the realities of running a business in a rural landscape, and seeing firsthand how passion and hardwork can shape a community. It was a privilege to take part in the work that WMI is doing if only for a summer.

The second aspect of my time in Uganda that really exceeded my expectations was the natural beauty of the country! There were so many things to see, and so much to do. In just two months I hiked to the top of six waterfalls, went tubing and white water rafting down the Nile River, went on a coffee farm tour, went on a safari, watched the Fifa World Cup from bars, went sightseeing around Kampala and still managed to sunbathe by the pool most weekends. I have never thought of Uganda as a tourist destination before, but now I truly think it should be on the top of everybodies bucket lists.

I owe a huge thanks to WMI for making this summer happen, I will never, ever forget my time here!!!

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Cerina, Lillian, Ashley, Marissa, Lilia

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The saga of our partnership with USAID continues! We held a training of trainers back in March, where members of the USAID came out for a full day training with 6 senior VHT members to give a comprehensive overview of the information in the materials and how to use these materials when doing community outreach.

Below are some photos from the training. The next and final step will be to get the rest of the VHT staff trained which will happen in the next couple of months. February, March and April are digging, planting and harvesting season for beans and maiz (this actually gets harvested in June/July) so everyone is busy in their gardens and is not able to take a day away from this to come to a training, which we understand 🙂 In order to be successful we have to be respectful (of people, their time, culture and priorities)!

Enjoy the photos and head to our instagram @wmionline to see a video! Stay tuned for our blog on the training of the rest of our VHT members!

 

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VHT Members with the USAID trainers!

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VHT Members, USAID Trainers and our fellow celebrating a successful training 🙂

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Many innovations in clean energy, including biogas, have demonstrated incredible applicability and success within communities here in Eastern Uganda. We have begun exploring the feasibility of bringing home biogas solutions to Buyobo and the surrounding villages for the following reasons!

Challenges surrounding today’s energy sources are increasing:

Homes in remote villages rely primarily on burning firewood to power stoves used for cooking. In some cases, homes have supplemental power from solar panels to fuel small lights. However, the environmental and humanitarian impacts of so many homes and villages using firewood are getting increasingly severe.

The challenges with this significant reliance on firewood include:

  • There is a diminishing supply of trees which can be chopped for wood (especially due to the logging companies)
  • Reduced foliage makes the land more susceptible to landslides (especially during the ~5 month rainy season) which have ruined homes, villages, roads, and bridges across the region as well as killing many people in their path
  • Villagers must travel increasingly farther away from their homes to source firewood, creating sometimes dangerous and lengthy treks through unfamiliar forests

Biogas is a potential solution:

In order to reduce the dependence on firewood, one option is for homes and villages to install biogas solutions in their homes. Biogas is fuel that is produced by fermenting organic matter, such as cow dung and household waste (process diagramed below1). Household systems are typically small outdoor structures with pipes that run underground into the home and rely on cow dung as the organic input.

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In order to see biogas in action we visited Namisindwa a village on the other side of the mountain to see how their home systems were working for them! Below are some photos from our visit:

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homeowners put the cow dung here and it will slowly make its way to down to start its change from dung to gas! Surprisingly it doesn’t smell.

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A gas nozzle

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The gas pressure gauge inside a house

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the stove that is powered by biogas!

 

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A training school has also installed a biogas system to power their kitchen. They use a mix of human and cow waste

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One of two cookstoves in the kitchen of the training school which feeds 300 students everyday

There are several international organizations involved in bringing biogas technology to Uganda. To learn more about these efforts, called the “Uganda Domestic Biogas Programme (UDBP),” please visit www.heifer.org and www.africabiogas.org.

 

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Hi everyone,

Our newest interns arrived at the beginning of June and will be here for 2 months working on data entry, teaching english games to the teachers and students of Buyobo nursery school, working with a small group of orphans for a pilot run of a potential new outreach project and interviewing borrowers!

Without further adue please let me introduce Lilia and Cerina!

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Hi! My name is Lilia, I’m 21 years old (as of yesterday!), and I’m from the great city of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. I love to learn languages, meet new people, sing and play music, and travel whenever I have the chance. I am passionate about children’s rights issues and community development, and hope to have a long career making the lives of kids and families around the world a little bit better. Currently, I am entering my second year at Leiden University in The Hague, Netherlands. I study International Studies with a concentration in Africa and the Swahili language. In my course of study, I’ve had the chance to learn about the languages, cultures, history, and politics of many places in Africa, but I wanted to experience East Africa from a more personal, “boots on the ground” perspective. Studying in an international university in such a diverse and multinational city as the Hague has exposed me to new friendships and relationships with people from all around the world, which motivated me even more to seek knowledge and experiences of the places my friends call home.

In my future career, I plan to work in international development and human rights law in Africa, so I wanted to gain some experience and perspective on the issues facing vulnerable communities here. I knew that the socioeconomic situation in Uganda is particularly harsh in rural villages, so when I found out about the work that WMI is doing to empower rural women and their communities here, I knew I wanted the chance to be involved. I reached out and applied, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join WMI as a summer intern! I am especially enjoying the work we are doing with the orphan outreach program, as supporting the development and wellbeing of vulnerable children is something near to my heart. I am loving my time here in Uganda, and I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to learn, experience new things, and be a part of the incredible impact that WMI is making throughout Uganda and East Africa!

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Hey my name is Cerina! I am 19 years old, and come from Auckland, New Zealand. One year ago, I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my family and friends and moved to the U.S to study Economics at Princeton University. I hope to initially find a job in the financial sector, and then transition into a career that more closely mirrors the work that I have been doing here in Uganda – perhaps as a consultant for a NGO or in working for a development bank. I really like working with numbers, and analyzing data, so am pretty set in finding a job in the business sphere.

 I love to travel, and I especially enjoy exploring new cities, so living one hour away from NYC was one of the highlights of my freshman year. Coming to Africa was a tick of my bucket list, as I have always wanted to visit, but could never quite convince my parents to book a family vacation here as opposed to our regular holiday spot in Australia. I have only been in Uganda for two weeks and already know that it holds a soft spot in my heart. It is a beautiful country, and I have been humbled by the mountains that surround Buyobo and Mbale, and by the beauty of the Nile River. Everybody here in Buyobo has been so welcoming and kind, which has made staying in Buyobo a true pleasure. I am looking forward to seeing more of what Uganda has to offer, and working closely with the community of Buyobo for my remaining month and a half here.

 

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