Sunday, November 9, 2008


The weeks leading up to the elections were just as exciting for me in Lyantonde. I spent the bulk of my time holding community meetings in the 7 villages that were home to lasts year's project participants. I returned to each community to update the members on the work of PF since leaving Uganda last December, listen to any changes they have experienced in their lives, and share with them our aspirations and course of action for the future. I presented to them the extent in which they will be expected to contribute to the development planning and implementation process, and although some of the meeting started off with words of skepticism and doubt, most ended with the communities scheduling elections of their own to establish project planning committees. I explained to them how communities like theirs are usually represented in the mainstream media outlets of the West. They laughed in disbelief, and agreed that the sharing of their stories of suffering and cultural richness, frustration and perseverance will build a better understanding of the complexities of their daily lives. I left each village chairman/chairwomen with a translated list of project criteria that will be explored thoroughly before we can begin finalizing any proposal. Those who seemed genuinely interested expressed a solid understanding and appreciation for our approach. An extremely summarized version of the criteria looks like this: Sound Financial System, Community Investment, Sustainability, and a Trusted Implementing Partner/Committee.

Prince Primary School – the first of the 7 development projects – is moving along at a comfortable pace. A local engineer has completed a topographical survey of the school's property. I've received a topographical map (including levels, size measurements and existing buildings) and price quotes for the leveling of the site and the cost of completing an actual architectural blueprint of the future site plan (including a list of specs and bill of quantities). I plan to check his numbers against other engineers and organizations with experience in school renovation. I also look forward to having our first Ugandan board of advisers meeting sometime this month, beginning Price Primary's pen-pal program (in partnership with an Falcon Heights Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota) titled "Citizens of the World" and Bitone's journey to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for their performance in the East African Theater Institutes's annual cultural festivals.

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