You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Travel’ category.

The wheelchair road race in Kampala

Breaking News

As I was writing this report, Faruk (the ETC@GDPU project officer) emailed us to say that Gulu PWD Athletes have been in the national news again, this time for a major wheelchair marathon.

On 12th November, two members of the ETC@GDPU pilot group: Gulu PWD Electronics, competed in the MTN and UAF Wheelchair and Tricycle 10km road race in Kampala. It was a nail biting finish, after leading the pack Ocira Richards was only beaten into second place because he came off at the last bend in very slippery conditions, Okwonga Charles also finished well, coming fifth. You can read more about the race here; our heartiest congratulations to them both; first and second places next year we hope!

The start of the 10k wheelchair road race, Kampala

Next Steps for October: Training News, ‘fixing the gaps’ and future planning

Highlights of the month

  • Analysis of the Reflection Meeting in September leads to extra business training for pilot groups.
  • Further evidence that the pilot programme has worked and members income has increased
  • Monthly follow up activities and decisions to make about the future

The ETC@GDPU Project Officer Fact Finding in Acet

Training in Business Management and Book Keeping/Record Keeping

The recent training programme at the ETC@ GDPU project shows the importance of ‘reflection’ meetings with the people you are training. After those meetings in September the ETC@GDPU Project Officer realised that one of the most important areas identified as gaps needed attention.

Where was that gap?

It was in Basic Book Keeping and Business Management

Why does that matter?

Unsuccessful training in business management and record keeping was one of the areas that caused poor sustainability amongst the earlier YDP youth enterprises.

Why?

Because they failed to analyse their profit margin, members didn’t know how much they were spending on materials and because they didn’t keep other records for their businesses, they didn’t know how much money, if any, they were making. Therefore, members didn’t know which areas of their business were successful or unsuccessful. The young enterprises cannot plan, develop or even understand their own business without such basic information.

Reflection Meeting in Gulu

Aim of the extra support training

to help strengthen and develop the business enterprise by the end of November.

What did ETC@GDPU do?

GDPU Identified KENVIC CONSULTANCY Firm and the expertise of the GDPU accountant to train these youth in areas of Business Management and Book Keeping/Record Keeping.

Business Management Training

The training was conducted successfully in Omoro Acet Centre and Gulu Municipality targeting 4 members of NYEKO RAC HAIRDRESSING AND COSMETOLOGY, 2 members of RWOT AYE TWERO YOUTH ENTERPRISE and 6 Members of GULU PWDS ELECTRONICS REPAIR & MAINTENANCE. Trainings were conducted on Friday 20th 10 2017 at Acet Centre and Tuesday 24th 10 2017 in the Gulu office.

Business Management Training

Results

This extra training was beneficial to the four business enterprises, under the ETC pilot project they have now learnt how to manage finance and take records for their daily expenses and sales. The four groups were provided with a simplified book of accounts and were trained on how use them. Members were encouraged to design and enter their income and expenses and calculate their profit at the end of the month. They can now make a record book indicating income column and expense in local language that might actually be used, unlike the complex written English based systems they had ignored before.

Business Management Training

Village Saving and Loans Associations

Saving pass books were given to Gulu PWDS electronic and Nyeko Rac enterprise to help them improve on their VSLA.

Hairdressers in Acet

Monthly follow-up activities at Acet centre, Omoro District: Nyeko Rac and Rwot aye Twero youth enterprise

The ETC@GDPU project officer followed two youth enterprises based in Odek sub county Omoro District, checking on their progress in skills training and progress in work.

Business skills

Business plan for two groups were completed successfully, each member has clearly understood the purpose of having a business plan, how to follow plans and strategies and to make their enterprise out-compete their competitors.

Increased income?

According to the assessment of the youth enterprise there is an increase in income generation compared to assessments made before the start of the project. Members of Nyeko Rac Hairdressing enterprise have recorded increase in their income:

Before the project started daily income was (0-5000 shillings) and now most members agree that the list range per day is 5000-10,000 shillings and during market days (every Wednesday) they make 10-30,000 shillings. This income increase is because of improved skills in plaiting, record keeping, customer care and business management; fixing the gaps appears to be working for them.

Issues for Rwot Aye Twero

Rwot Aye Twero enterprise have had training problems. Initially GDPU contracted a knitting and tailoring instructor to train the youth twice week, but continued absenteeism by that instructor (who stays 4km from the Centre) meant that the youth did not get sufficient training to improve the quality of their products and therefore get more customers. They have received some trained in knitting V-shape sweaters, but were not trained in joining sweaters using a sewing machine, because they don’t have any machine for training.

GDPU Sweater Weavers

Follow up at Gulu Municipality: Gulu PWDs Electronics

Skills trainings was conducted every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 12:00pm for electronic group. They were trained in Radio, TV and Phone repair and have greatly improved their level of income and confidence.

ETC@GDPU pilot provided a digital meter to Gulu PWD electronic to improve on their work, in order to capture more profit.

Gulu PWDs, Electronics and Repair: repairing a phone.

Development at GDPU itself

The GDPU coordinator and ETC@GDPU project officer have worked at improving publicity at the organization. They have redesigned the organization sign post showing all partners’ organization at the union, improved on flow of the main reception and the business office. Office signs were put in each office door and currently they are working towards developing the GDPU Business plan.

a YDP Gala at GDPU

Way Forward

Training for PWDs electronic in repair of electronic appliances is ongoing up to 19th November 2017.

GDPU will continue to follow up the youth enterprises, supporting them in areas in which they face challenges, guidance/ counselling programs and life skills until the project is evaluated by the funders and new plans are agreed.

GDPU will engage on Skype with the funders to look for the way forward for the greater project.

Advertisements
2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

Spectators at the 2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

 

  • Gulu PWDs Electronic and other members of Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team took part in a National Sport Gala for Persons with Disabilities organized by Uganda Paralympic Committee and won! See this earlier post.
  • Members taking part in ETC@GDPU report significant increase in income as a result of their training
  • An in-depth Reflection Meeting will really help us all evaluate what has worked in the pilot project, and what has not, and where to go from here.

Reflection Meeting in Gulu

Skills Training Report

The ETC@GDPU project officer followed up recent trainings in Omoro and Gulu, to ensure that the pilot business enterprises are building their capacities in areas such as:

  • Business plan development,
  • Skills training
  • Conflict management and resolution.

The youth are now actively participating in the training programme and 75% are reporting that their levels of income are increasing because:

  1. Their area of coverage has increased
  2. They can now repair more things compared to when they started project.

The training program is running up to the end of October and the GDPU project officer is following up to ensure that they are getting the required skills and that relevant knowledge is imparted

Hairdressing Training in Acet

Hairdressing at Acet

Five members of Nyeko Rac Hairdressing and Salon at Acet Centre are trained in areas they need. These are:

 

  • pencil plaiting
  • styling and twisting hair
  • dread locks
  • free hand.

Savings are being made among members of Nyeko Rach hairdressing,

Conflicts are being resolved among members

Challenges

  • Some materials for hairdressing are now available at Nyeko Rac Hair Beauty Salon at Acet, although lack of material for weaves, chemicals etc

 

Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu 2 low res

Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu

Gulu Pwds Electronic

The ETC@GDPU project officer has reported before about difficulties with Gulu PWDs, their lack of cohesion as a group, their disinterest in saving money and in training for anything but phone repair.

Training is going on for two months from 11th September to 19th November 2017, aimed at addressing problems areas where they feel they face difficulties:

  • Discovered the use of charcoal stove for soldering gargets such as Radio, TV, phones etc
  • Changing/repair of mouth piece, charging system and screens
  • Discovered the alternative for Blower Machine by using candle when there is no electricity

Challenges

  • The training program was affected by the National Sports Gala which took place from 25th to 30th September 2017.
  • Village savings and loan association (VSLA) is not active among Gulu PWDS electronics members although they attended training for VSLA
  • Business location for PWD electronic is neither favourable or easily accessible, it is hard for them to keep customers appliances because they operate their business in a corridor.
  • Some phones are complicated to repair, spare parts are not available for most bought in the area, especially Chinese phones.
  • Unlike their business competitors they lack software to unlock phones
  • Business is not growing for electronics
  • Limited knowledge and skills on other electronic appliances such TV, Radio, DVD players, Smart Phones and Amplifiers
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable

Akera Roberts, Individual Business Enterprise, Electronics and Repair, Gulu

Akera Roberts

Radio repair is doing well for Akera Robert, Rubanga Na Electronics business plan was successfully developed and completed by Akera Robert and GDPU project officer

Challenge

  • Security for his place of work is still an issue, Akera Robert still operates under the veranda

Akello Catherine and Florence are being trained in making V necked sweaters

Knitting and Sweater Weaving

Sweater weaving is doing well, they get contracts from schools and local community members. Support training is aimed at improving their quality of work and building customers trust, training area for knitting is:

  • joining using sewing machine
  • making V shape sweater
  • designing sweaters.

Learning to Make V Necked Sweaters, A customer checking on his newly made garment

Challenge

  • High-level absenteeism from the instructor for knitting and sweater weaving might be affecting the positive development of the programme.
  • Customers take long to pick their items
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable

 

Reflection Meeting

Conducted by GDPU project officer and ETC and Project Coordinator GDPU to check on the impact of ETC project in Gulu and Omoro District.

What has worked?

The local community attitude towards PWDs is that they are best known for leather work. Yet as this and the YDP proved, they are able to do other income generating activities such hairdressing, motorcycle repair, electronic repair and maintenance.

  • Skills training has improved the ‘offer’ of all the business groups
  • Active in repair of electronic gadgets, hairdressing and sweater weaving, i.e. businesses are growing although some are slower than others.
  • Record keeping is now observed in all enterprises, learnt how to balance books of account because of financial literacy received during the ETC project.
  • Learnt to communicate effectively with customers, most of the youth enterprise members had bad communication skills that made them lose customers but the capacity building trainings offered by the ETC@GDPU project has improved this aspect.
  • Learnt how to deal with large number of customers, greatly improved customer services by use of first come first serve.

Reflection Meeting Gulu

Challenges: Solutions and the Way Forward

The reported rise in members incomes is very welcome, how can we continue this increase? Which parts of the programme are working and what do we need to do to improve them as part of the pilot programme and for future programme planning? Diversification and widening the ‘offer’ of each group, further investigation into sources of investment and increasing the self-confidence of members could all play a part. As could:

  • Linking the enterprise to other service providers available in their location
  • Having a by law on mandatory savings
  • Inclusion saving for disabled and non-disabled
  • Continuous follow-up and support from GDPU project staff
  • Further tailor-made refresher training in specific areas e.g. Repair of modern phones, TV radio etc
  • More advertising using posters
  • Enterprise members to carry out market survey to check on the prices of commodities and services to be comparable with other enterprises and avoid over pricing.

    GDPU Co-ordinator Conducting the Reflection Meeting

Apologies for late arrival

Apologies for the late posting of this months news, also we (the UK founders of ETC@GDPU) had  hoped to be flying out to Gulu at the end of this month to discuss and evaluate the pilot phase and how to move on to the full project. Sadly, Mark was involved in a motorbike accident in the UK just weeks before departure. Although he will be OK, his mobility is restricted for a few months. Ironically Mark clocked up 12,000 kilometres on a motorbike around Gulu and district with only a few bumps and scrapes, riding in the UK is far more dangerous. If you are a car driver, please look properly before you pull out of a side road! However we hope to carry on the project development by Skype in the next few months and return to Gulu in February.

The safer roads in Gulu District!

 

Open Day GDPU 2015 for MM in U 4

Open Day Gulu Disabled Persons Union 2015

 

Expecting the Unexpected:

During our time in Uganda I was offered small gifts often; it’s part of the culture and of course a way to buy influence. Live chickens (once even a pregnant goat) are a standard African present. Proposals by trainees to service my motorbike, shave my hair or do my nails were frequent. After one student graduation I was given a large orange iced cake, the whole college, parents and honoured guests watched as I tried to balance it on the motorbike and wobble down the road in a rain storm.

But there was one present that I still treasure.

I might have mentioned before that volunteers were warned to expect the unexpected. Working with the disabled is not something either of us had done before. Gulu Disabled Persons Union was one of the most inspiring institutions on the Youth Development Programme and the instructors certainly amongst the most inspiring for their students.

GPDU Sweater Weavers. Madame on the right holds up my gift

GPDU Sweater Weavers. Madame on the right holds up my gift

This sleeveless jumper was the gift that meant the most to me, it was made by Youth Development Programme students at Gulu Persons Disabled Union (GDPU). Their disabilities can be profound, both physical and mental and their exclusion from society, education and the economy equally debilitating. This jumper was one of the first to be completed by the sweater weaving trainees. The young women (and two young men) who had made this garment – lots of room to grow into it too – were justifiably proud of their first steps to economic independence. Receiving such an important statement is an experience I will never forget.

GPDU Sweater Weavers

GPDU Sweater Weavers

Since leaving Uganda in late 2015, we have been in discussion with GDPU, wanting to help them continue the good work they had started under The Youth Development Programme. So, we are very proud to announce that our project: ‘Enhancing the Capacity at Gulu Disabled Persons Union’ or ‘ETC at GDPU’ for short is taking its first steps. The aim of the project is to provide extra support for the small business groups set up by students with disability who had trained with GDPU between 2013 and 2015 under the YDP. We will fund the six month pilot phase of the ETC project but will be looking for funding for the substantive programme, once we have evaluated that pilot; you have been warned, calls for donations are to be expected!

Camera 360

Ex YDP GDPU Electronics students outside their shop 2017

Fifteen business groups were set up under the YDP. ‘ETC at GDPU’ aims to strengthen those nine groups still in existence, so that they can become more profitable, more resilient and last longer. This will improve the livelihoods of the group members and of course of their families and their village.

Camera 360

Project Leader carrying out first assessment of an ex YDP business group (Group Enterprise: Electronics)

GDPU will work with the groups to decide what will help them grow and develop and then organise for that support to be delivered. This project will provide capacity building – group dynamics, business support, additional technical training, mentorship and support. Stay tuned to see how it develops, and of course do look at the website:

ETC at GDPU

Camera 360

which is full of information, photos and films.

PS

Perhaps even more unexpectedly, as some of you might know, I was in a group in the 1970’s (weren’t we all?) the original version of the that group played again recently and to honour GDPU I wore my jumper, you can see it here.

Jumper Mekons Manchester 3

Youth Development Programme: ex Carpentry and Joinery students working on a roof at Awach

Youth Development Programme: ex Carpentry and Joinery students working on a roof at Awach

It was finding this photo again recently that brought it all back; it shows some of our ex-students working on a roof. The building will be a new classroom for teaching Motor Vehicle Maintenance, the students were all graduates and skilled enough to be employed by their old college. They have kept their college overalls and wear them with pride as they bounce sure footed about the growing roof, notice their flip-flops on the ground by the dancing youth. The colours are strong, new and bright, the shadows sharp and deep; three degrees north of the equator you would expect nothing less.

Goodbye Old Year

Goodbye Old Year

Is this where I write a roundup of the year just gone? Maybe a self-satisfied description of the unbelievable successes of our over-entitled offspring? Their nationally important roles as cupcake sales persons, hand car wash operatives and niche website facilitators? Perhaps I should dwell at length on the overwhelming successes of our semi feral grandchildren and how little Ptolemy’s performance as a carrot at the Nativity ‘literally’ stole the show?

Goodbye Old Year

Goodbye Old Year

Or maybe not, because none of that would be true. In reality Storm Frank is still thumping into the side of our rented barn conversion in a farmyard on the edge of Dartmoor.

Goodbye Old Year

Goodbye Old Year

Even the sheep with fortnight old lambs have been brought in to their barns, so the weather must be awful. In our own warmer and sheep free barn, (unlike the imaginary Ptolemy we have not recreated the nativity ourselves) we can at least reflect on where we were this time last year.

The food spot, Kidepo National Park, Uganda

The food spot, Kidepo National Park, Uganda

As far away as possible, in Kidepo National Park, north-east Uganda looking forward to vegetables and rice for lunch and again for supper.

Waterbuck, Kidepo National Park, Uganda

Waterbuck, Kidepo National Park, Uganda

We have, I suppose, made the change from one continent to another, from one world to another although we miss our colleagues, the warmth, the light and the sense of purpose that comes with volunteering.

Goodbye Old Year

Goodbye Old Year

Down here in Devon, the sun wearily struggles above the horizon, occasionally sighing for a while above the hedgerows before slowly plodding downwards again. All of the tones are muted, edges are soft and one form bleeds into another. All is indistinct and unclear, a range of grey washed out earthy greens that feel old and worn.

St Ives, New Year's Eve

St Ives, New Year’s Eve

A quick trip to St Ives further down into the South West for New Year’s Eve, the town a riot of fancy dress at night.

Gurnards Head from Zennor Head

Gurnards Head from Zennor Head

Then Zennor Head for the New Year’s day walk, storm bound; wet and windy but the wind blew in enough vigour to start the new year we hope.

Goodbye Old Year: driving into a bright future?

Goodbye Old Year: driving into a bright future?

 

Todays forecast is for low cloud and rain, again

Todays forecast is for low cloud and rain, again

If the past is another country and they do things differently there (O Level study of ‘The Go Between’, sorry) which aspects get changed in translation?

Local firework display:: The Battle of Waterloo

Local firework display:: The Battle of Waterloo

Between the re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo, the serving out of the sausages and the filling of the charity bucket in the firework display at the small north Dartmoor village we find ourselves in at the moment, they played music. We got used to cultural dislocation via bizarre musical combinations while we were in Gulu. Cliff Richards’ ‘Congratulations’ was played at every opportunity, more Westlife songs than is necessary (any more than none obviously), ‘’Islands in the Stream’ whenever possible along with the usual Celine Dion, local pop music and Acholi traditional songs.

Wet Devon

Wet Devon

But what surprised me in wet Devon as blond children rushed around with glow sticks and we stood around in the mud, was a Country and Western version of Patti Smith’s version of Springsteen’s song: ‘Because the Night’. Patti Smith’s raw singing made it an iconic song in Leeds in the early punk days. The only night club in town then (imagine that) had the single (imagine that too), we would demand it endlessly, would leap onto the dance floor as it rapidly cleared; that style of music was loathed by everyone else. And here it was thirty nine years later, a milky version that nonetheless accurately copied Patti Smith’s vocal styling, passing entirely without notice as the mix segued into some other anodyne American something or other, Celine Dion probably.

More wet Devon

More wet Devon

Elvis Costello is reading his autobiography on Radio Four at the moment, heard him describing his ecstatic reaction to The Clash’s ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ yesterday morning and he played the song too, all before ten ‘o’ clock in the morning.

And now Siouxsie Sue is on the radio talking about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, eh? What has happened while we were away?

And yesterday I went to the London premiere of a film (The Revenge of the Mekons) about the band I used to be in way back when. Another form of the group is still going (a Country and Western version). The film is mostly about the newer group and certainly had a bigger audience than we ever did way back etc; curiouser and curiouser.

The sun: briefly

The sun: briefly

You couldn’t get further from the febrile urban atmosphere of the late seventies than the sodden fields and moors around us now, it has stopped raining since our arrival but only briefly.

The distant past: stone circle

The distant past: stone circle

The past we have been approaching here is very distant, stone circles, clapper bridges,

The distant past: clapper bridge

The distant past: clapper bridge

worked out mines and tiny lanes made for people on foot or pack horses.

The project: caravan on the hill

The project: caravan on the hill

Have we made any decisions about where to live and what to live in? A project? Living in a caravan while we struggle with ancient building techniques?

The project: all it needs is a little bit of tidying up

The project: all it needs is a little bit of tidying up

As Grace Slick sings ‘go ask Alice’ on the radio I’m reminded of the very different role of the past in Gulu. We worked and lived amongst astonishingly optimistic people, very few old buildings, a non-literary culture, no real evidence of the deep past and no wish to remember horrific and violent recent times.

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice

On Dartmoor, as the rain sheets by, the past or rather a curious translation of the past, is threaded through everything we see, think and do. How that past will govern our next choices still seems to be placed in the future.

Or just fly away?

Or just fly away?

PS

‘Hold Back the Night’ was another important song, this time by Graham Parker and the Rumour came out in 1977. The drummer, fact fans, is now drummer with the current Mekons.

The road in front of us: from one continent to another

The road in front of us: from one continent to another

“The road in front of us grew bleaker and wilder over huge russet and olive slopes, sprinkled with giant boulders. Now and then we passed a moorland cottage, walled and roofed with stone, with no creeper to break its harsh outline. Suddenly we looked down into a cuplike depression, patched with stunted oaks and firs which had been twisted and bent by the fury of years of storm. Two high, narrow towers rose over the trees. The driver pointed with his whip.

“Baskerville Hall,” said he.”

From “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published 1901-2

The road in front of us

The road in front of us: bleak and wild?

Probably the most famous story set on Dartmoor, where we now find ourselves,  back to getting the usual skewed view of Africa by watching wildlife programmes on TV (the new Attenborough is very good though, we can jump up and down on the sofa and say: “we have been there”).

The road in front of us: Wildebeest and our own Attenborough moment

The road in front of us: Wildebeest and our own Attenborough moment

Are we staying in a high, narrow tower? Not quite, it’s a barn conversion on a working farm.

The road in front of us: we're in the barn on the left

The road in front of us: we’re in the barn on the left

Ugandan subsistence farming meant hours of digging with a hand hoe. Farming here seems to involve rushing around in big machines through narrow farmyards and much moving of mud from here to there.

The road in front of us: mud waiting to be moved somewhere

The road in front of us: mud waiting to be moved somewhere

I remember, when we came first came back from our two years and nine months in Gulu, my eye kept being drawn to the skyline, Gulu was low rise and flat.

 

The Kitgum Stage

The dramatic height changes of London were mesmerising at first, although like so much of the once so familiar that had then become strange, it quickly became familiar once more.

The road in front of us: London skyline

The road in front of us: London skyline

Our new situation? Yes it is in a bowl, or ‘cuplike depression’, as most farms seem to be; “muddy bottoms” Mary calls them.

The road in front of us: muddy bottoms

The road in front of us: muddy bottoms

It is a world of mists, soft light across undifferentiated fields leading to a clearly differentiated skyline; what appears to be a relatively close horizon. Some sort of metaphor for our quest to find a new life? No, it’s just quite misty.

The road in front of us: what have we missed?

The road in front of us: what have we missed?

Big tractors running through the yard again with dogs snapping at their heels, many dogs, also quite undifferentiated, they never quite seem to get out of the way of the vehicles. Our dog, clearly designated as pet, lies in her basket looking puzzled, as indeed do we (appear puzzled that is).

The road in front of us: play misty for me

The road in front of us: play misty for me

“Through the gateway we passed into the avenue, where the wheels were again hushed amid the leaves, and the old trees shot their branches in a sombre tunnel over our heads. Baskerville shuddered as he looked up the long, dark drive to where the house glimmered like a ghost at the farther end.”

The road in front of us: the avenue up to Castle Drogo

The road in front of us: the avenue up to Castle Drogo

How will the story end?

The road in front of us

The road in front of us

Some Background

We were in Gulu, Northern Uganda for two years nine months, working with a huge DFID funded vocational training programme.

Gulu is on the road to South Sudan, it was the centre of the conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government. Many of the Internally Displaced Peoples camps were here. The northern region has been peaceful since about 2007-8 and the context has moved from emergency humanitarian aid to development work.

The Vocational Training Institutes provide opportunities for the youth(male and female aged 14-35). Most of them lived in the camps or were abducted by the LRA. They have had very little education, leaving them with few skills. Our purpose was to help these Vocational Training Institutes build up their capacity to equip the youth with what they need to earn a living and live as decent a life as possible.

By the Way
Mark's old art/ history of art website is still active should you want to read more by him or look at his work

Whitemarkarts

From There to Here

Our Old Life, Packed Away in one Twenty Foot Container

Here

A Vocational Training Institute, Assembly under the Mango Tree

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 157 other followers

Previous Posts