Monday, 20 July 2009


Well, I'm home and happy to be out of the red dust for a while. There is a lot of work to do to draw up the programme, help "stabilise" the Butterflies in their home environment and then we are ready for the challenge of progressing their social entrepreneurial abilities in September.

During this delay period, I can draw up a tailored programme, probably different (albeit with some commonality) for each Butterfly group. I intend that they can spend their Summer holiday in getting to know each other and their project coordinators, perhaps taking part in some activities that they design and plan themselves.

I am happy to say that I feel that the trip has been very successful. The Butterfly groups are a wonderful and unique bunch of individuals and I am certain that some will become "Changemakers", some in the near and some in the more distant future.

I will shortly publish a "Trip review", which I will draw up some conclusions and perhaps give sopme views on the unique aspects of Uganda, as I see them. There will be some more pictures then too!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Our Induction Weekend - did it sink or swim?

I have spent much time recently wrapped up with developing the platform for the ongoing Butterfly Project and this past weekend was the first combined Kampala and Lyantonde event, where the selected Butterfly group were briefed on what is to come.

For those that are unaware, the Butterfly Project aims to train up young social entrepreneurs from disadvantaged parts of Africa, by giving them specialist training, stimulus sessions and a chance to participate in the work of an NGO. This weekend was a chance for them to be meet each other and take some time to visit Lake Mburo National Park, where I was fortunate enough to meet the Director for a possible new project.

Butterfly is for Gifted and Talented youth, as these are the ones that are most likely to be able to learn social entrepreneurship quickly alongside their standard school curriculum.

Funding for Gifted and Talented is never easy in the developed world, as it is presumed that these young people will rise to the top, but in the main it simply does not happen, as schools are designed for the mainstream, not the exception, unless they have a specific disadvantage and then these are often too difficult to access.

In Uganda, there are as many gifted and talented children as there are in Britain, yet few ever reach anything like their potential, so Butterfly tries to harness these potentials in a way, which might support more social development of all kinds in the future.

Part of the project is to let the Butterflies explore their environment and let them learn from the experts that exist in Uganda. Child Aid Uganda support very disadvantaged children in Lyantonde and they took us to visit some of their beneficiaries as part of the weekend. On Sunday we visited Lake Mburo National Park, which was a beautiful place with zebras, elands, buffalo, fish egales, hippos and many more creatures living wild.

A few weeks ago, some of these rural young people had never seen a body of water larger than a pond and on Sunday, they floated across the water in a boat for the first time. I tell them that this is what they deserve, not a luxury or good fortune. In time, I hope they will come to realise this....

1.Our innovative induction session around the pool table - someone had commandeered our briefing room!
2. A few weeks previous, some had no idea what a life jacket was. Now, Lake Mburo demanded them!
3. Left - Francis (14) from Lyantonde Right - Gilbert (12) from Kampala. The rural Butterflies may be smaller, but they have just as much potential

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Butterfly Kampala

I found a couple of photos of the testing from last week and have just got back from the weekend Kampala testing, so am sticking up one photo from the weekend, maybe a video later.

The Kampala kids I know very well now and it will be a shame to not be selecting those who have shown a lot of promise over the last few weeks, but the process is designed to match the criteria for becoming a successful social entrepreneur to the abilities of these young people.

Many had these abilities - ability to find solutions to social issues, presentation skills, ability to learn quickly, "performance" skills, numerical ability etc. etc. - in abundance, so selecting the right six has been difficult. More consultation is needed and the six will be announced here soon.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Butterfly Lyantonde

Just to say that last weekend was the first Selection Weekend for Butterfly Lyantonde. Six were selected - Recheal, Stellah, Joshua, Francis, Manisuli and Dorah. See if you can pick them out...

Up North! - Gulu and Kitgum

My trip to Gulu was a while back but was very interesting. My colleague Grace Ayaa took me and we also took a member of the Kireka Youth Club in the Acholi Quarter.

The Kireka Acholi Quarter is an area to which people were displaced during the war. Essentially, they were promised an opportunity to make a living and were given some money to start afresh, but no land, and the Quarter became the new home for 3,500 people from the Gulu area.

Unfortunately the Acholi Quarter very soon became crowded and a new slum area outside Kampala, where actually a living was hard to find and the money was no good, when there was no means to use your farming expertise. Most moved ten years ago and now the situation is very different. Many are settled, albeit impoverished, the war is over and a few are enthusiastic to return to reclaim their lands in the North. Unfortunately, it's not quite as easy as that, as others have encroached on their lands or simply what they had has now transformed completely.

We started slowly that day, intending to leave early to arrive around 5pm in Gulu - it's around a 5-hour bus ride. There were delays upon delays and we eventually boarded a bus a 2.50pm and then sat in it unmoving until 6.00pm. The way transport works is simple - the bus goes when it is full and the next one goes when that is full. It's the cheapest way to make a profit and keep prices cheap, but it can be very frustrating, if you arrive and find the bus empty, as we did.

The journey was dull, with just blackness outside and we eventually arrived at 11.00pm in Gulu. The place didn't look at all war-torn - in fact it looked brighter and shinier than Kampala - and the hotel apparently seemed decent, albeit 50% more expensive than my Kampala hotel. Power was out in Gulu and the hotel (irritatingly) did not have a generator, as they ought to have done for the price. So we went to our darkened rooms, tried to find our beds, tripped over the fans, which weren't working and bravely tested the toilets. The hotel smelt bad too.

Next morning we headed out to breakfast and I realised I'd eaten something bad again on the journey - maybe the water. I took it easy and we found 3 boda bodas to take us to our first destination - an agricultural entrepreneur, who had some great ideas about providing community silos for agricultural produce. The place is near the border with Sudan and apparently Sudanese pay more for their goods than Ugandans and thus there were opportunities...

Next we visited a school. The Principal was very excited about the prospect of a Butterfly Project in Gulu and we immediately signed him up and perhaps there will be some names coming from there soon? The kids were playing some interesting local musical instruments and apparently there are local competitions for the best performers.

We then had a meeting with Gulu Youth group and settled down to another hotel, since the last one was poor....

At 4.30am there was a banging on my hotel door. "Open up, open up" the woman shouted. I asked her who she was and she said "It's me", which seemed to indicate that I should know who she was. I searched my memory for Grace's voice and it didn't match, so I said I wasn't going to open up to someone I did not know. She then left.

We were starting early to head over to Kitgum and I was up mentally for two hours before I actually got up at 6.30am in the dark. Power was still out and this hotel - half the price - had a generator, but it didn't switch on until 7.00am. I learnt how to shave in the dark and clean my teeth and pack my things in pitch darkness. I'd actually planned on this and left everything in known places. I was feeling a lot better too, which helped. I got to the door of the hotel and a shape jumped out at me from the blackness....

A man was apologising for the intrusion by the hotel staff 2 hours previously. He said "We did not realise that you were white," which was very reassuring.... I paid him the 26,000 shillings (about £8) the woman had wanted and wandered out.

I waited for Grace but she did not appear, so I decided to walk up to the bus - I didn't want to miss it. In fact I needn't have worried. We got on it at around 7.30am and it did not leave until 8.45am, when it was full!

Halfway on the journey to Kitgum, a family got on. There was the mother, an older daughter and two boys. The daughter had very stained teeth and the kids were in poor condition with no shoes, but one was looking out the window, pointing and asking questions. I asked Grace to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up, expecting the usual answer. He said he wanted to be a policeman, because they stopped vehicles and insisted on people giving them money for nothing. I didn't ask another, but Grace said that the two boys were being sponsored by somebody into boarding school in Kitgum - I pondered on the fact that it was not just me thinking that bright children from rural areas needed support in Uganda...

We arrived at our destination - Kitgum was an interesting terminus, where we kind of landed in the middle of a market. There was a private hire (taxi) and we took it all of about 300 yards to our destination, an NGO working on some niche projects around and about Kitgum. They weren't really ready for us and I seemed to wait a while during a lengthy conversation in Acholi. I wandered around and found someone who showed me an egg chamber for maturing eggs for sale. Money, money, money, I thought - I worked out it would generate 30m shillings every 21 days - but I was told that it used too much electricity and the power was always off. Anyway, there were no beneficiaries to give the eggs too and, as an NGO, we're not allowed to sell them.

"Rubbish" I pondered, as we gathered to board a vehicle, which I was apparently paying for. Moses was my cameraman for the trip - he was a member of the youth club, as mentioned, but also a keen gadgeteer, with some talent to fix and maintain equipment. Apparently he had been left behind, as there was no room for him. I stepped in on his behalf and sent the car back to collect him. Young people are simply not valued here for their capabilities and input. They are viewed as water-carriers or minions of other kinds, by many.

The settlement we visited was a camp - actually a very nice camp, with water flowing, a quarry for building and a picturesque environment. The poeple there seemed animated and apparently some of their number had been missed off a project and were annoyed about it. I guess money was involved here, but the place looked good - even some nice houses, a sophisticated piggery (is there such a thing?), but it is true to say, there were some very poor people there and many of the children looked malnourished.

The rest of the day was driving and chatting in Acholi, driving more and chatting a bit more in Acholi. I don't speak Acholi, so I can't really tell you much more!

Kitgum is full of these camps - maybe hundreds of them - and each is a new small community of its own. however, they are built for functionality, not for space and the Acholi are used to having land and space around them, so the camps are an imposition. I'm not personally sure whether the camps are better or the original set-up, where huts are hundreds of yards apart produces a more effective outcome for the people, but for now most were living in these camps.

NGOs had their boards out everywhere - we've done this, we've done that - and I felt that now this was counterproductive. The Acholi people needed to start thinking about determining their own future, not relying on aid and, once more, entrepreneurship training was what was needed and possibly some equipment, like the incubator. This signage was hinting at more free money coming and instead charities should be looking at pulling out of this area, not further subsidies.

Having said that, poverty existed in no small measure in Kitgum and clearly this still needed some focus. But poverty exists in no small measure in every place I have visited, so why aid here to the exclusion of other places...?

Musical instruments in Gulu
Landing point in Kitgum
The camps

Sunday, 28 June 2009


I have stupidly left my camera lead back at Kireka, so no new pictures, so I thought I would just post a picture of Uganda, to refer to, and the famous crowned crane, which is protected here and which I snapped at the zoo at Entebbe.

On the map, Kinkizi is far to the West, past Rukungiri and towards Kisoro. You can see Kitgum to the North, where I visited last week.

Will post again in the next couple of days...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Rural - Kinkizi - which comes first - the car or the road?

After a very brief respite in Kampala, I woke at 5 the next morning for an epic journey across Uganda, with my KEST contact. He had been kind enough to arrange meetings with bishops from three diocese, each of which were significantly involved in community outreach and would thus benefit from some outside investment or funding support. Each had some land, which they could use for development projects, which was the focus of my linking with the Church of Uganda.

Masaka was the first call and we were there before 8.30am and the bishop was friendly and supportive. Clearly the bishop was an expert agriculturalist and a project instigator and we agreed to cross paths on a few ideas discussed. Masaka is a large town and a significant area to house demonstration projects, close to Kampala but a better launchpoint for rural initiatives.

We travelled on to Mbarare across a wide variety of roads. Most were "under construction", as this was the main route west but was relatively free of traffic. Considering this, though, the potholes were many and some extreme and one could imagine why the roads were unpopulated. Suddenly the road turned grey and smooth and we could have been in England (even some red roadsigns), had it not been for the small children wandering the hard shoulders with large jerrycans of water half their size, or the occasional stall of local produce.

The good road did not last very long, though and we were soon on nothing more than a widish track and this turned out to be the last part of the journey, leading to Kinkizi and Kanungu. The road passed through a fertile valley, full of banana crops and where they make a potent banana spirit, which is only sold locally. At times we were driving on the edge of a ridge, with hundreds of feet to the left or right and occasionally we passed a truck, bringing goods to where we were going too. The road was also subsiding, and in the rainy times, there are often mudslides or boulders falling down onto the road. It was now dark, but in around two hours we made it through to Kinkizi.

Suddenly we were in a small town, with all sorts of ramshackle shops, but selling all types of goods. The forest was still all around us and the place had an ambience all of its own. Next day we heard, however, that the bishop had cancelled our appointment, as he had an "important" service to hold in the community, to which we were instructed we had to attend. It wasn't scheduled to finish until around 1 and it was only a little over time, but I decided to go walkabout during the service, which was in a language I did not understand (and 3-4 hours long). Around the church were hundreds of local kids all apparently waiting to sing (though they were never invited) and so I took the opportunity to see what they were about.

English was very poor so I didn't get very far, but one little girl of about 8 chatted to me about her father "beating her for no reason" and a few others showed interest in my laptop, although I didn't switch it on, and my camera, which always seems to create huge excitement.

After the service the bishop seemed irritated - apparently he had been heckled, when he had called upon the congregation to fight against the recent appointment of Catholics in local civil service posts. I think people felt they had other priorities - water, transport, educational facilities, to name a few. I was introduced to him and he was somewhat hostile. I retorted that I only worked with organisations keen to elicit change, which I don't think went down very well...

I stopped over at the Savannah Hotel, which was very nice and I heard lions grabbing antelopes in the Queen Elizabeth Park during the night! But next morning, we had to head back. Stopping off at the North Kigezi diocese, we met up with a wonderful couple of pastors, who were working in Rukungiri and the surrounds. We talked about Butterfly and some of their other projects and I'm hopeful there will be some opportunity to liaise again with them. Water was much less of an issue there, because they had worked up a strategy with WaterAid...

So, back home and on the dusty, fume-filled roads again. Another 14 hours and we were in the traffic of Kampala again. My host was driving and I can't thank him enough for some wonderful and informative discussions mid-transport but also for having the tenacity to drive safely through such tricky surroundings.

Clearly roads make trade and here in many places roads have become neglected, probably because so few vehicles use them. A short 40km journey in Kinkizi and Kanungu can take 2 hours, though and is this conducive to trade on a large scale? The government thinks not and has apparently put a proper road into the budget for 2010. Let's hope it comes and can help transform this disadvantaged place.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Rural - Lyantonde

It's been a very hectic week or so, travelling to different rural areas, so apologies for slow posting. Today I'll be focusing on Lyantonde, which, with Rakai, I hope will be the first rural base for Butterfly.

While Kampala is a small metropolis, Lyantonde is a small backwater town, with a little charm. Its shops are poorly-stocked, cafes vastly restricted in their offerings. It's also the main dairy cattle area, so milk was more readily available, although it had to go away to be pasteurised.

Some of the Kampala Butterfly kids came to Lyantonde, as an interesting experiment to gauge a reaction to the rural setting and set them some challenges. We visited a lot of schools and (for Troy) a picture with me included! Actually I didn't speak much, as English is much less commonly spoken and I would be even less understood than normal!

It seems the rural schools are populated by substantially by orphans - 56% of the population are children up to 18 - and HIV/AIDS has cut a swathe through the adult population, leaving a bunch of confused kids, who simply have been born into an adult wasteland. Those adults that remain are often subsistence farmers, who struggle even to make school fees of 2500 shillings per term (80p), from their meagre land, which is prone to poor crops.

Why do they stay? Well, many don't and leave their children behind, much like the AIDS victims have left their children. Children are clearly depressed and traumatised by all this and they try to make the best of things by singing and dancing. Some sing about the tragedy of AIDS and some have more upbeat offerings.

My hosts support these orphans, child-headed households, child carers etc. and from what I can tell do an invlauable job against large odds - Lyantonde is a notable truckstop location and thus has suffered more than the average town from HIV/AIDS, with its large numbers of prostitutes. Recently, the president suggested making prostitution legal...

Some of the schools, though, have surprising ideas and are focusing on solar energy, learning about technologies, while others seem to wear a face of depression - "not enough teachers, not enough books, not enough classrooms, not enough.." Orphans are used as a pawn by some schools to try to gain grants, as even private schools are taking them on, when they know there are no fees payable. State schools offer class sizes of up to 100 for slightly less fees.

In all of this, though, are the same young people with gifts and talents - next to none have any vehicle to express them, though.

Water is also a massive issue in the area, with children bearing the brunt of water fetching. In some places, they must miss a school day, because the distance to water is so far. Efforts are being made, though and water is being farmed out into more locations, for greater accessibility and I guess bore holes are being sunk.

What there is no shortage of in Uganda is "awareness". USAID has ploughed vast sums into HIV/AIDS and mosquito net awareness, although from experience it has been locking the door after the horse has bolted. Comparably with Nigeria, I saw nothing at all on awareness and the problem is no worse in Nigeria. What is so lacking is economic infusion and this would give so much more than "Big Brother" AIDS awareness messages, but I guess that might mean that Ugandans could start to compete on the global market...

Simply there is next to nothing in terms of machinery or processing in these rural places. People sell wood or charcoal, not paper. They sell hides, not leather. And no one has learnt the skills to do any of this processing, so income remains at this base level and, without help, will likely remain there.

Social enterprise - the development of industry to bring people out of poverty - is needed here, but which funder will have the bottle to support it?

Things get worse, though, as I head West on the next blog!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

More on Butterfly

I've been hanging back a little with Butterfly, waiting for some more positive developments and on Thursday I decided I had to make these developments happen and so I requested interviews with the 16 butterfly contendors that I had had recommended. 24 were still missing, but I took the decision simply to assess whether the calibre was here or not.

I have posted in a little detail on, if you are interested in seeing more. In the first group, there was one standout. He simply understood everything I said and why I said it. He then framed his answers in this context and explained that, although he liked football and Manchester United, he was very aware of his surroundings, whether it be malaria, poor hygiene in the streets or poverty. Whilst others commented on how things impacted on them, his perception was more holistic and detached and ultimately very sensible.

The next day I interviewed another eight from a very disadvantaged area of Kampala. This was much more upsetting and some of the kids were terribly stressed and worried about their home predicaments. Most had lost their fathers and their mothers were barely coping. One was desperately concerned about remaining in school, as he was the only one his mother could afford to pay for. From here again there was one standout - a 13 year old artist, with confidence and awareness of her situation. She was too in abject poverty, but somehow you felt she could could handle it...

On Saturday I felt positive that these young people deserved support and so I thought it would be interesting to test some of the activities, which would take place as part of the Butterfly project programme. I called two in from the first group and we played cards - Eco Fluxx - had some time on the Spore Creature Creator and then we went down to the local internet cafe. In Kampala, this is much more sensible, than having some kind of XO laptop contract.

I test Eco Fluxx with a lot of people and one might have thought this a hard sell, espectially since these children were young and living in the slum area. The game was learnt and taken on board straightaway by one and the other seemed very happy to participate, although she was less confident on the rules. He was making logical decisions with his cards and concentrating.

Then we tried the Spore Creature Creator. This is actually free software, which I'd purchased on disk - I thought it would be a fun programme for youngsters to learn how to use a computer - how to click, drag etc. I was right. Within minutes, both had learnt the fundamentals of mouse use and were busy designing their weird and wonderful creations. I had to call time, as they didn't want to stop. The picture above is one of the kid's creations with its babies!

Next I took them to the local cybercafe, where I had never seen anyone under about 22. So I bought them some time each (about 30p's worth), showed them how to Google and asked them to find something out about a favourite subject. I told them that the internet had every piece of information they could ever want and more and so they must learn how to use it effectively.

They seemed to graduate toward YouTube, which is problematical on 3k/second, which I explained, so they focused on just browsing around. It all seemed to work so naturally.

I had been watching their reactions all day and I could see the one was like a cheetah let out of his cage and he did not want to be put back in. The other was tired and ready to return home, having, I think, had an enjoyable afternoon. is an interesting article regarding gifted and talented. In our African context to me it seems even more valid.

Tomorrow I return to Kireka - I hope to have some interesting coverage of that in a few days time.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


It is tipping down in Kampala, so I have the opportunity now to update my recently under-utilised travel blog.

Last Tuesday I was invited to visit KEST - Kampala Evangelical School of Theology, who can be found at I have always been a little wary of evangelical Christian organisations as I would much rather Christians practise what they preach and my discussion with Dr. Solomon Nkesiga was focused around how his college can be utilised for practical ways to alleviate poverty and suffering.

He's definitely someone to be welcomed at NED, for his interest in social entrepreneurship, but also someone with significant interest in plants - he showed me Aloe Vera, Jatropha (from which one can extract oil to make biodiesel) and also some genetically-modified bananas on my whistlestop tour of his home environs. He also showed me papyrus growing in fields and how he was testing out its use in construction.

Our common ground is his interest in supporting the development of "the educated poor", focusing in on those within rural communities who can create change and be relied upon to learn and manage development effectively. There is clearly some synergy here with the Butterfly Project, which is about educating the gifted and talented disadvantaged youth in social entrepreneurship and thus another advocate of the Butterfly concept was found.

KEST also work in training of youth workers, as Uganda has so many orphans and children and youths who were previously soldiers and have been severely impacted by the experience. Many NGOs have sprung up looking for aid funding, yet few have the experience to deliver high quality services.

To me this is a Christian organisation using the bible as a vehicle for change, not a sword to battle others.

Pics: Dr Solomon Nkesiga and the Jatropha plant

An uncomplicated coffee

Coffee and tea in Uganda comes in two kinds - African and English - and you can spice the African version, if you wish. The difference between the two, in essence, is that African is boiled with the milk and English is not. Nescafe provides the coffee granules, so no difference here.

Comparably both are expensive, compared to fizzy drinks (x3 in the hotel) but you are always given (at least here) an option to have several cups, if you wish to, even if you don't.

I'm guessing that because water needs to be boiled here, so does the milk and so there is perhaps some extra issues in preparation. Problem is when you order a coffee in the morning you want it there and then, not 25 minutes afterwards. Today, I decided to take my business elsewhere due to the wait and found that even the most diligent cafe owner was struggling to deliver coffee, hot water and hot milk.

He told me he would "make the milk very, very fast", which turned out to be around ten minutes.

I guess there are all sorts of issues here, some of which I won't even know about, but I guess my learning is not to complain too much, unless I have a solution to offer for the delay...

Main blog entry (I hope) this afternoon.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Treasure, Transparency and Travel

Sometimes one decides to take the plunge into what might or might not be shark-infested water in the search for buried treasure and to some extent a trip to Uganda carries those risks. Ceris discovered one of her contacts was masquerading as a painter, pretending to have painted a masterwork, in order to claim some royalties on it. Without taking the plunge, the deception might never have been uncovered.

My own objectives were also to try to assess the capabilities of organisations I knew from the UK and decide whether they were capable of implementing DFID projects. My own current focus is the DFID CSCF Funding stream, which seeks to find and fund rights-based projects and clearly as the intermediary organisation I need to be sure that the organisations I work with are credible, before risking UK taxpayer's money in support of them.

I have found over the years that organisations and NGOs are notoriously untransparent, giving every excuse under the sun (some of which may be valid) not to have managed their finances and governance correctly. Moving an organisation from opaque to transparent is absolutely crucial to their development, as well as essential for their credibility, yet sometimes it can take years for this metamorphosis to take place. Strangely too, the organisation actually feels no better after the process, and possibly even bruised, overworked or more stressed than when they started.

It often involves investment - time and money - and a routine, which many people detest. However, one cannot argue with its merits. No opaque organisation can plan their future properly, they do not elicit trust amongst their own managers and they are absolutely unfundable whilst opaque. Even if slightly opaque, an organisation might be turned down, or for a small internal financial system, which carries with it a risk of funder money loss.

Does this process, however, suit the entrepreneur? I suspect not. Getting down to graft, rather than inspiration and creativity, might be an entrepreneur's idea of hell. Most social entrepreneurs too are genuine people with integrity and thus they find it even less acceptable to be accused of potential money mishandling...

So, I ask those in power, those who fund, to consider this fact very closely. Whilst transparency is an ideal, an objective, don't let it beat the soul out of a credible organisation full of people with integrity. Let the process come slowly and surely, not as a rush, just to gain funding.

However, in the meantime, SEA works to DFID rules and transparency is King!

Lastly, once in a while one unearths a treasure, someone who will inspire and develop ones own thought processes to new places and I met someone in Kampala on Tuesday who was at least for that day a kindred spirit. I will tell you about him and his organisation in the next blog...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


KJT took me to another tournament on Sunday, which they did very well in, but later in the day I decided to take a trip to Kireka, where there is a Life in Africa beadmaking project, run by NED-gurus Evvy Brynning, Grace Ayaa and Peter Ndelo.

I met Evvy at the Red Chilli Hideaway with Fred Kayiwa from KJT. We chatted into a late night and I forced a KitKat on Kayiwa, determined to give him a chance to experience some of the joys of European living! Evvy talked about the potential in here new work with a Craft Supplier, one which seemed to really understand some of the challenges faced by small producers in scaling up for regular production.

Next morning, leaving my plug-free room at the Red Chilli, we drove up to the Women of Kireka project. Not all the women were there, but they arrived pretty soon after and were working directly to specific orders - this is how it should be! I learned that beads were made from scrap paper and rolled up. I also learned that this was a specific Acholi skill that was common amongst this "tribe".

Peter was taking Maria, a Swedish student up to the Acholi encampment and I followed. The Acholi had been displaced in the war in the North and this area, just a few miles north of Kampala had been chosen for their new home. There was a quarry, where they tapped on stones to make building materials for their homes, but, other than that there seemed little available that could be used to create any kind of living.

Negative thinking, however, did not get anyone anywhere and the people had created a kind of microcosm of a larger community, with land buying, quarry plots and play areas. The school was pristine, but not a government school, so fees were payable and thus some excluded. Even unboiled water was sold at around 2p/bottle and people had to pay to use the latrines.

As we entered rubbish was strewn everywhere, but we found that this was at least an attempt to keep the place clean and free from vermin. Longhorned cows wandered amongst the rubbish.

In the encampment kids were curious about us, talking to us and following us through the narrow pathways. Most were very dusty and dirty, with ragged clothes and a stressed expression. Some boys were playing a game with bottle tops, which involved collecting and something like marbles in terms of gameplay.

There was a lot of hardship there, but a finite problem to be solved. The Women of Kireka project with some expansion could end up providing work for all of the women in the community.

Whilst supporting such enterprises through funding, may damage the prospects of traditional business, why is traditional business so revered, when it tends towards buy low sell high? Why should self-interest be protected at the expense of altruism?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

KJT Wins Again!

The team had won another tournament in the meantime and we were invited to come and visit the training session. There were probably 300 kids from 6-18 already there and more still drifted out from Kisenyi during the day. Weather was quite nice and the pitches had dried out a little, but still they were pitted and lacked vast sections of grass.
This part of KJT’s operation seemed to run like clockwork. Matches ran to time, kids knew where they were going, referees were on the right pitch, flags marked the edge of the pitches.
I kind of toured the site talking to people most of the day and took some good photos. Many thanks must go to David Bale, who sourced three full football kits for me to take over and here are the pictures to prove that they were used!
Not being an expert on football, I’m not the right person to judge skill in football, but I can say that I have never seen better skill in young players before and it is absolutely clear how seriously these youngsters take their football. 7 and 8 year olds were highly critical of their 10 year old elders, claiming poor passing and skills, while the older ones showed amazing ball control but also an exceptional level of sportsmanship. All of the kids were polite and courteous and very motivated to succeed.

KJT’s strategy is to look for support from a Premiership Club or a player, so that they can have some regular core funding and perhaps have their own ground, which they will maintain. If you can help, then please post here. It seems crazy that vast sums of money are ploughed into British Football at all age groups, yet a team built out of orphans and slum kids in Uganda, who beat the best internationally receives absolutely nothing from anyone. This may change soon and if it does, it will be posted here.

They hope too to travel in July to Norway for another international event, but have yet to raise anywhere near the money for it – will they be going? Watch this space!

Bad and Good...

Tuesday night, Ceris invited us all to a local club in Kampala. This was undoubtedly the most expensive place we had been to, but it was still only £3 to get in and drinks were £1/shot, beer less, I think. I took ice with my drink and bang went my Wednesday – food poisoning!
I fought my way to some semblance of lucidness later in the day and met with Matt Bish, film director and producer of the notable Ugandan film “Battle of the Souls”. Ceris interviewed him on her website and we had the chance to meet him in the flesh. Actually I had an ulterior motive.
I had been looking for a while for a director for some edufeature films for a project, that I was hoping to run in association with one of the big film companies. We aim to tackle social problems with the films, using them in conjunction with the licence for big budget films to maximise attendance, and also to attract funds to local NGOs. It’s a little more complex than that, but that explains it a bit. In particular I am concerned by the videos being circulated in Nigeria, which are corrupting and directly encourage the sacrifice of children, who are supposed to be witches. By showing better and more exciting films, hopefully we can banish this vile rubbish.
Anyway, the meeting went well and I can progress the project a little further!


Many who know me will know that I devised the Butterfly concept, when I was with Emmanuel Nehemiah, an Ashoka Fellow in Kaduna, Nigeria. We did some work to pilot the concept and it was an incredible success. In a nutshell, it is a project designed to train up social entrepreneurs from gifted and talented young people living in the world’s most disadvantaged areas. There is little on the web about it yet, as the full trial has yet to go ahead, but there are many awaiting the results of the trial with interest. Unfortunately, I was unable to pursue it in 2008, due to visa issues for Nigeria and thus I had an enhanced project ready and waiting to go and nowhere to implement it. Until now, that is…

It was agreed with KJT that we could implement it in Kampala, actually Kisenyi, gathering young people aged 11-15 from schools with a catchment in the area. On Tuesday we visited these schools and presented the programme to them.
The first school was the main base for KJT and the location where they operate most of their activities. It was quite large and took pupils up to 15, so was ideal for the project. The presentation ran smoothly, the headmaster asked pertinent questions and he agreed to recommend some participants for the project.

By now we were getting used to the traffic in Kampala and the various modes of transportation. Back of a motorbike is usually an adventure, but this motorbike took us right through the heart of the muddiest parts of Kisenyi. Rains had just come and water was pouring through the gutters. We stopped at some rusty gates which had some kids standing outside and inside we heard singing and drums. The headmaster was a small man with excellent English, although he had an unusual “persistent” manner. He ran a private school of 600 pupils, but a hundred of these were orphans, for whom the headmaster himself had to fundraise.

In Uganda orphans include abandoned, lost and one parent (male) children, but the school had a few rooms devoted to the bunks for these 100 children. They slept two or three to a bed, in a very confined space, yet, here they were dancing and singing in the uneven broken down school courtyard. I presented the Butterfly project and the Head smiled and said he knew of the right young people for the project and we headed on to our last destination, which was right on the other side of Kisenyi.

This time by taxi, the driver put on some great funk music and turned a corner into a narrow muddy alley. Somehow he and a matatu in the other direction managed to pass each other and through a maze of alleyways, we spotted a man standing at the top of a muddy slope. He was our third headmaster and he advised the taxi to stay at the top. Keeping our feet was difficult, but the school at the bottom was beautifully built, apparently with money from the UK. Children were filling bottles from a well there too, as we headed into the building.

By now the computer was running low on power and the presentation wouldn’t go, but with my colleague Kayiwa’s assistance, we covered the ground and recruited our third school onto the project.

A successful and inspiring day.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Next day we had a busy schedule, but we were still exhausted from the trip, so moved things back a little to the afternoon. We met with Kampala Junior Team (KJT) in a small office seemingly with its own windy staircase to it. Outside metalworkers were plying their dangerous trade on all sides, with all kinds of health and safety legislation broken every minute – a British jobsworth’s paradise! KJT introduced themselves in a room brimming with huge cups, just a sample of what they have won over the last few years. Outside, the view from the office was a dual look at the Kisenyi slum roofs and the Kampala skyline.
A short walk and we were on the periphery of Kisenyi, one of the world’s largest slum areas, notable for its close proximity to the centre of Kampala. Attempts had been and are being made to try to modernise the area, but it has a very long way to go. Some people live in “houses” 2m x 1m, spending their days, plying their wares outside their “front doors”. Others live amongst washing lines in their tenanted accommodation, fit for no one. We passed a tap and Kabugo Mansoor, the founder of KJT told us that it was a useful source of income for his “family” of orphans he houses in Kisenyi. Kabugo is a man who grew up here, but decided to use his skills for creating change, rather than financial gain. He set up the Kampala Junior Team for slum kids to have something to do and they came to him in their hundreds and still do.
We passed a barbers on the right and then came to Kabugo’s house, where we were met by his charges. He showed us inside and I took a few pictures of the cramped quarters. The kids seemed happy enough. Nearby there was a noisy crowd and the sounds of dice being thrown on wood! They were playing a kind of Premiership Ludo game for money and apparently a lot of money changes hands this way.
Passing through further, there were rugs strewn across ropes either side of the path, but I was advised that the colour runs when it rains, so I should not buy! On the other side a gaggle of kids were watching a TV in a shop. The crowds were thickening now and also so was the mud. In the rainy season, Kisenyi can become almost impassable and the Council has a substantial drainage and sewage plan in place right now for completion next year. It was looking decidedly more hostil, so I put the camera away and we fought our way through to the city centre, which was a choked with cars, motorbikes and Matatus…
Kisenyi was a moving experience and prompted many ideas for the development project we hope to implement in 2010. It has become the theme and core of the stay in Uganda, subsuming all other activity, at least for me.
Next day will be Butterfly and a very remarkable school…

Arrival in Kampala

The border crossing seemed a bit haphazard. Probably because we came by bus it was presumed that we would not be tourists. Everyone filed out of the bus almost immediately, while we sat in our seats wondering what to do; eventually the bus driver angrily told us to get out and join a queue – at least I think that’s what he said in Swahili – and we joined the Kenya exit queue. Passport stamped there was a no man’s land we could idly wander down, which seemed to be full of tiny streetkids, hawkers and moneychangers, before we saw a Barclays Bank and a very long immigration queue.
A couple of smartly dressed men had decided that we were behind them in the queue and they had to find a $50 note for the visa each, which caused a little delay; a bit of banter with the moneychangers and we discovered the bus and the rest of the passengers waiting for us a few hundred yards up the road.
Pink-shirted buda budas (?) (cyclist taxis) were all over the place but it was not long before we were in a country as green as any I’d ever seen. Uganda was full of green unutilised land, ripe for development. Dotted around were small villages, mainly with huts and minimal interventions from civilisation. In comparison to the commercially-focused farms of Kenya, it was what one might presume Africa to be as a foreigner, if one had not visited the varied metropolises and shanty towns, which convey the vast gap between rich and poor.
Well we finally arrived in Kampala completely exhausted, into a city that looked just like any other – lights in every direction as far as the eye could see into the blackness. The bus took several attempts to three point turn inside the garage, but eventually we were let out, hoping to see our friend from KJT, who was supposedly meeting us. My own phone was out of credit and virtually out of power to make any calls and Ceris’s was finding no service, so we just had to wait with our copious luggage, as we had brought substantial gifts from the UK to the football players of KJT.
Our contact arrived not long after – fortunately – and we were led to our hotel. A broad-chested woman in a nightie appeared to block our way into the hotel, but she moved to the side, as we entered and, to date has not been seen again. It was something of a walk, but I was still excited about being here, so we grabbed something to eat, which was actually excellent and very reasonably priced, much as everything is in Kampala it seems. Even at 3,300 shillings to the pound they seem to be able to make a profit.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Early Impressions from Kenya

Kenya was a special surprise for me. It was vibrant, interested in Arts to some extent, politically aware and with much interest in quality, rather than simply offering the minimum. NGOs seemed organised and with potential for some funding from a variety of sources and a clear adoption of many Western ideals, such as good financial management, progressive thinking and desire for continuous improvement.

Nakuru was in parts a beautiful city, but in others problematic – the continuing issues of streetkids exemplifies. The surrounding areas were distinctively Kenyan, with a real appreciation for the importance of wildlife to their culture. Entrepreneurship in the form of buying and selling was also instilled into the culture, yet there was no evidence of this being nurtured in the aid programmes, which can often lead to dependence on aid, as was seen in the UK until ten years or so ago. Also, Christinasworld commented on this issue, when applied to Sudan in her blog at:

Farms were often quite large and the roadside land was almost entirely well-utilised by farmers, unless it was too soggy because of the rainy season. We passed by at speed on our way to Uganda (more next time) on roads which were simply awful. The Kushinda!/SEA team were exhausted being shaken about by the roads and this left a poor impression from an otherwise wonderful country, where thousands are unemployed looking for work, government is saying “spend, spend, spend”, yet the roads before and after Kisumu are extremely damaging to vehicles. Why not train up more roadmenders from the thousands ready to do anything?

Dennis Kimambo from Repacted asks me to request some support for transporting computers from Computeraid International - you can reach him at

Next posting will be from Uganda and will have some photos from Kisenyi...

Streetkids voices

Following some initial discussion, we decided to launch the project with an interview with some of the older leading streetkids. I’m guessing they were 17-21 and had been in this position snce they were 12-13.
Jonathan had an intellectual look to him and was the first to speak. I asked about his aspirations and he said he wanted to settle down and provide for a family. He wanted to set up a second hand clothes business, if only he could gather up some capital.
John looked more serious and talked about wanting to start a business selling shoes. He was in Nakuru most of the week taking people’s luggage from one point to another – usually 20 shillings (20p) charged. He said some people only gave him 10 and there was little he could do about it. At the end of the week he travels home to Entegee, some distance away.
Jackson was a likeable young man, but unfortunately spaced out on glue during the interview and also later on when we met him. He said his mother died seven years previous and all he wanted was something to do and somewhere stable to live. I asked him about education and he said that he had attended the Gumbaro Catholic adult education until it closed down.
Daniel came to Nakuru when he was 12, after his mother had died. Initially he had worked for someone, but had felt exploited as child labour and left to seek his own fortune, ending up on the streets. He was an intellectual, spoke the best English of the group, and had many sensible suggestions and clearly had his own plan, which he was trying hard to implement under these hard circumstances.
I asked them about food and they mostly said that they had to rely on whatever was cheapest. Cost of food had gone up a lot recently and they had been forced to exist on very poor food. Jackson said he was allowed to collect leftovers from the restaurant in Gilani’s in return for helping clear up.
I asked them what happened when they were sick and they said that they clubbed together as a group and took the sick one to the local hostel, where they were able to receive free medical care. At least there was something for them, but there was no one to help Jackson kick his habit, thus avoiding mental illness as an adult.
They talked about gangs a bit – each had a territory, but it didn’t seem like they fought much, but perhaps there was more to hear about this and the gang taxation and also the young girls on the streets.
I asked if people were kind and the boys said usually people were. My host Esther talked about the streetboys fondly, as young men who had lost their way – not the delinquents so often presumed. The Police, however, were often pursuing the streetkids because of the glue habit. Also, Daniel was worried that, if he were able to find money to start selling goods on the street, then the Police would take all his stock, unless he had a Council licence, which was expensive.

Daniel also said that the glue sniffing started younger, when the kids were more vulnerable and more easily led and perhaps more stressed about their own safety. They said they now had nothing to do with the younger kids, who went around in larger groups for their own protection. Some of them, they said, were kids who had lost their parents during the post election troubles in 2007, either because their parents were dead or because they had never been re-united. They did not know either way. The younger streetkids usually took jobs in helping find parking places for cars.

Then we talked about Repacted. They didn’t know much about the organisation, nor the theatre, but they seemed to leap at the chance to be involved in some acting. Collins Oduor from Repacted suggested to them that they could make a play all about themselves and their issues and then perform it to others so they could understand them better and this enthused them, enough that they volunteered to recruit for the session from all the streetkids in the city. They said they would find acrobats, actors and footballers on the street – many talents that could be shown off on stage.
Ceris took their picture and then we let them go and asked them to keep coming back to the theatre to find out if the session was going to happen.
I think it will, as these youngsters are ready to be helped…

I'm hoping we can raise a little bit of money for this small discrete group, to get them involved in theatre - mail me (or post) if you think you can assist.

Repacted Outreach

The Repacted young performers were hyped for the Outreach – a massively difficult job where they go out into communities and tackle difficult subjects, such as “abstinence” and “condom usage”, the subject for today’s session.
The target group is not however the ignorant group of yesteryear, instead a group increasingly aware of the disease-preventive benefits of condoms. The focus is thus on cultural issuesor specific situations or “dilemmas”, where discussion is required. The example given was of a truck driver who was sleeping around and concerned that he might have HIV/AIDS and thus refused to sleep with his wife. His wife then slept around herself, putting herself at risk. The idea was simply to prompt open discussion. Afterwards, Repacted’s condom demo drew bees to a honeypot, so this was clearly an important part of their work.
Interestingly, Repacted’s brief did not include the main issue these young men faced – unemployment. Training in entrepreneurship, or some means of business training or incubation, even if it were signposting would have been beneficial.
The team were very serious about what they did and on returning to the theatre had a detailed “self critique” session. All credit to them…

Friday, 8 May 2009

A Kickstart!

(Ben Parkinson)
A fast plane to Nairobi and Ceris and I stepped onto Kenyan soil for the first time on Wednesday at daybreak. Long-suffering theatre company Repacted ( had been up at 3, to ensure we were met at the airport and we were picked up in a Scooby Doo-style minibus to bring us firstly to our appointment with Kickstart International.

Kickstart, as some may know, are a wonderful global organisation whose vision is to create optimum technologies for rural dwellers in Africa and elsewhere. My links with them had been in 2007/8, when I was working with Nehemiah Foundation International ( to create a conduit for their cost effective waterpumps in Northern Nigeria. SEA has been unsuccessful to date at creating this link and I was hoping to rejuvenate links with Kickstart as well as put again the case for investing effort into Northern Nigeria by Kickstart. Liddon Muturi was the perfect host at Kickstart, demonstrating the two pumps to me once more and advising that a Mark 3 version is around the corner! I look forward to some good news for Nigeria that these pumps can start to become readily available in rural Nigeria in the future. SEA will do all it can to make this happen.

Nairobi was dark an thundery (rainy season) and we did not hang around too long - perhaps I will be able to return later on in the trip. James Karongo from Aphia II - the massive FHI-administered programme for HIV/AIDS prevention (and other things) welcomed us with Collins Oduori and Dennis Kimambo of Repacted. We were promised the road from Nairobi to Nakuru would be smooth and it was until we reached a truckstop, where several of the Matutu (?) buses were parked up. It seems the Police were checking all the Matatus (Police stops have very frequent so far) and we were held up a couple of hours, eventually making it into Nakuru by late afternoon. The Driver took a "short cut" through the Masai plains area - warthogs/zebras but no lions - where the road was more like a rocky mountain path, but we made it, with the bus shock absorbers mostly intact.

Next blog will be our time with Repacted and possibly some future plans...

Many thanks to those posting on the blog - I'll do my best to respond on a future comment - time is limited today, as the net got cut mid-----

Monday, 4 May 2009

Leaving for East Africa

Tuesday 5th May marks the third visit to Africa, by Social Enterprise Africa's Ben Parkinson, joint managing director and enthusiastic international development social entrepreneur. This time the visit is to East Africa and the aim is to support the sustainability of as many high quality African NGOs and CBOs, through advice and support with fundraising and strategy.

SEA is also about bringing innovation and technology and Ben hopes to formally launch the Butterfly Project, a unique project and methodology designed to find and nurture the potential social entrepreneurs of the future. Initially linking with a Kampala Football Club, SEA plans to set up an indigenously run CBO to fully test out the Butterfly concept in an urban area of Africa. You can see some photographs from the Nigerian pilot at, plus some details of what constituted its success.

Although it is hoped to keep this blog regularly updated, you should also be able to see information at

Later on, Ben will be visiting rural areas, with a view to instigating a sister project for Butterfly, in a more remote environment, but also to look for opportunities to market goods produced in remote rural areas nationally or internationally.

On this trip, Ben travels with Ceris Dien, representing Kushinda!, a project set up to provide a market for African arts in Europe. As a result the itinerary includes a wonderful Kenyan theatre NGO and a number of individual talented artists. You can see a little more of Ceris' work at

In Kenya we are also visiting Kickstart International, a US charity based in Nairobi, which has developed technology specific to the needs of rural-dwellers. SEA is championing their Super Moneymaker waterpump, as a means to increase yields or reduce workloads of rural farmers. More info at

Future plans include West Africa later this year, where SEA's joint MD, Celestine Iro is already setting up a rural development project to create an African brand for rural agricultural produce in Nigeria. Watch this space for more information from Cel!

Enough for now - packing still needs to be done!