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Last year’s news and Happy New Year!

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Welcome to our first blog post of 2014!

2013 was a busy year and we are grateful to all our supporters for their generosity, to our staff in Uganda for their hard work and commitment and to the volunteers who have brought enthusiasm, ideas and energy and have undertaken a variety of tasks with relish.

Machine Maintenance

Machine Maintenance

CRAFTS

Throughout the year we ran sewing workshops with the craftwomen’s groups in Bukinda and Rubona thanks to a grant from the Give a Hand Foundation.  The women learnt how sew and were taught useful skills for maintaining and fixing their sewing machines.

For many years now we have run our own craft shop at the Bunyonyi Overland Resort. It’s been steadily growing in popularity and recently outgrew it’s kiosk! Consequently, a new shop was built giving us much more room to display the beautiful products being made locally by the women in our craft groups.

Overland Shop

The New Overland Craft Shop

Overland Shop

Our New Overland Craft Shop

We also opened a brand new craft shop at the Lakeview Coffee House at Kachwekano which we are extremely pleased and excited about.


EDUCATION

During the year our nursery school children enjoyed a variety of creative activities. They also received communication, in the form of scrap books, from their partner nurseries around the world who take part in our Circle of Friends programme, an initiative that is steadily growing. Our Circle of Friends links nurseries around the world to promote creativity and friendship through the sharing of information, cultures, ideas and friendship.

The children were also lucky enough to receive a shipment of story books from the charity Pelican Post who deliver books to disadvantaged children all over the world. The nursery children certainly enjoyed hearing the stories and looking at the colourful pictures.

Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends : a scrapbook arrives!

Reading

New Books from Pelican Post

Not to be left out, the teachers also participated in two nursery workshops organised by Alma Burciaga who was our Operations Manager up to September. She did a great job, ably supported by our Nursery Co-Ordinator, Ashaba Phionah. Teachers from our own 4 nursery schools were joined by teachers from the other 5 Ugandan nursery schools that are members of our Circle of Friends, it was a great opportunity for them to meet, share ideas and learn more about child centred methods of education. Alma left us to return to Mexico and we wish her all the best for the future.

Teaching Aids

Teaching Aids

HEALTH CARE

The clinic on Bwama Island has been busy all year and the Slovenian Doctors have worked extremely hard getting everything organised. The maternity and overnight ward is almost finished and soon we will start constructing the new latrines and showers.

Maternity Ward East side

Maternity Ward East side

At Nyakasiru with a grant from Kitchen Table Charities Trust  we have built a new 4 stance latrine at the primary school together with a new water tank – they are not quite finished yet but will be before the new term starts.

Nyakasiru latrines

Nyakasiru latrines


EDIRISA UK OPERATIONS

George

George

In August we welcomed a new Operations Manager. This is George Kakonge, he is married with 2 daughters and we hope he will enjoy working with us.

In September we said goodbye to Kirsty, our Crafts Development Manager who spent a hugely successful year with Edirisa UK, and in her place we welcomed Antonia who joined us in December from England. Antonia will be assisted by Sheryl, who comes to Uganda from Australia with her seven year old daughter.

We wish Kirsty well and hope our new arrivals Antonia and Sheryl enjoy their time with Edirisa UK.

THAT’S just a few of the things we’ve been up to this year.  Christmas was celebrated with a lunch at the Lakeview Coffee House attended by 48 people – Edirisa UK’s 36 local staff, the District Education Officer, 2 of our local priests and other local partners. 

Staff Christmas lunch

Staff Christmas lunch

HAPPY NEW YEAR  FROM EVERYONE AT EDIRISA UK –  UGANDA

Creativity, fun, sports and more with Carpe Diem Education Volunteers

April 14, 2012 1 comment

Carpe Diem Education (www.carpediemeducation.org) are regular visitors to Edirisa, stopping in Kabale twice a year, each with a different group, as part of their East African semester. A semester with Carpe Diem provides students with a unique opportunity to study and volunteer abroad.  Volunteering, community and cultural exchange are central to Edirisa UK and Carpe Diem,  and it was great to welcome another group this March.

A visit to Kitanga’s Special Needs Education Center (SNEC) has been on Carpe Diems itinerary for the last two semesters and is becoming a favourite amongst it’s students. Days at SNEC were split between classroom renovations and creative workshops. Due to the fast expansion of the school in recent years there are more classes than classrooms at SNEC, requiring different abilities and ages to be taught in the same classroom. Edirisa UK with the help of Carpe Diem  have provided partitions for two classrooms to ensure a more practical learning environment. With the help of students and teachers  Carpe Diem painted educational material specific to different classes on each side of the wooden partitions, creating a fun and informative backdrop for each lesson.

Bead Making

Bead Making

 

Creative workshops in the afternoons provided an opportunity to work closely with the small classes of students, each with specific learning difficulties. The theme this year was jewellery and our visitors taught and assisted the SNEC students to make their own necklaces and bracelets using hand made beads of rolled paper. With these beads now fashion statements in Europe and America it was a great workshop for Carpe Diem to lead and a bright, colourful, fun and very sticky afternoon for the SNEC students.

 

The second half of Carpe Diem’s visit took the team to the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, and the ‘Heart’ of Edirisa. First on the itinerary was a day spent with one of Edirisa UK’s women’s craft groups at Rubona. This gave the students a chance to look over the plans for the future Rubona development – an orphanage, nursery school and craft workshop at the top of the hill over looking the lake – and to experience a day in a craft woman’s life. The craft lesson started with the ladies teaching the group two simple bracelet designs; one using banana fibers and one with raffia grass. After the students mastered these (some better than others!) it was time to learn to use the pedal powered sewing machine. This caused some problems for the students used to automatic electronic machines, but proved to be a fascinating learning experience.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi

After a deserved weekend relaxing and visiting islands around the lake, the final task for the volunteers was to run the annual Edirisa Nursery School sports days, over 2 days, at Bufuka and Kyabahinga Nursery Schools. The nursery students were split into teams, each with an American team captain and over the course of the morning competed against each other in a number of grueling relay races.

An obstacle course kicked off proceedings at both schools which saw the toddlers negotiating a tricky arrangement of balancing beams, tables to crawl under, and benches to jump. Then came an egg (ball) and spoon race, a hilarious three-legged race and a very excitable sack race! Although one team from each school had to be declared a winner, a great time was had by everyone and the teams went home satisfied with their performances.

Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

The following evening we bade our visitors farewell, and wished them a safe onward journey to Kampala. Here in Kabale, we’re already looking forward to welcoming a new group in the ‘fall’.

Happy International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Here at Edirisa UK we love the Ugandan culture and we’re working hard to promote and preserve it. Scattered right across the country are groups of hard working women creating beautiful traditional crafts to sell to both locals and, of course, tourists. One thing people always notice about the people of Uganda are the brightly coloured clothes and beautiful fabric prints, or Kitengye, as they are called in Uganda. We’ve been working with various women’s craft groups across the Kabale region in South West Uganda in an effort to boost their sales, shake up the products on offer and improve quality…and why? To give these women a sense of pride, a sustainable income and to promote the diverse and colourful culture that Uganda has to offer.

Vian and Rose working together

Vian and Rose working together

In February we welcomed Rose Tushabe as our new resident tailor. She took over from Vian (a student tailor doing an internship with us over the Christmas period) in February and has recently held workshops with women’s craft groups in Rubona (Lake Bunyonyi) and Ryabirengye (Bukinda) teaching sewing skills. Although proficient in traditional basket making these women had never sewed before and had difficulty even getting the needle to move! But Rose had everything in hand and by the end of the workshop they had picked up the basics are were able to make purses and simple bags.

“Going to the women in the villages and teaching them in sewing was a great experience for me. The women were very welcoming, interested and eager to learn new things. This workshop was very good for the community but also for the women’s personal development.“ (Tailor Rose Tushabe)

Learning to Sew

Learning to Sew

During the workshop the women also had the opportunity to improve their basket making skills and were introduced to new woven products and taught how to improve the quality of their goods.

We place great importance on the role of women in African communities. Besides being responsible for domestic work and raising children, women are often the main provider of the family. With two sewing machines currently at Rubona and one at Ryabirengye (donated by Edirisa UK) the women’s groups in rural communities are getting the opportunity to develop a new source of income for themselves and their families.

This is just the beginning for these workshops and we plan to continue introducing craft women to different kinds of Kitengye products and encourage them to realise their own potential.

Rubona Women sewing training

Rubona Women sewing training

Rubona Community Project

January 16, 2012 1 comment

A Creative Partnership between Edirisa UK, the Rubona Community and Uganda Martyrs University

As a charity working in Uganda there’s nothing more satisfying than watching competent local partners take charge of a project. Of course we love to be at the heart of what we do, but it is so much better to see local people taking ownership of Edirisa initiatives. That’s why we’re so delighted to be working with the faculty of the Built Environment (FOBE) at Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) on the Rubona Community Project. The women in Rubona have always impressed us with their hard-working attitude, constantly searching for innovative new ways to help improve their livelihoods and now we’re also delighted to see young, Ugandan, aspiring architects helping this community. After two visits to Rubona village and many late nights in the studio, the students at UMU presented Edirisa with an impressive portfolio of designs.

Orphanage

Orphanage

Their work was fantastic. They had given us a whole landscape focused around playfulness and creativity. The crafts group at Rubona currently support 22 local orphans in very poor housing so the students made accommodation a priority, giving us the option of a “nuclear family” structure or a dormitory. One thing that really captured our imaginations was that the designs sought – in a prospective plan for 40 orphans – to ensure a semblance of private space for the children and create the feeling of a “home” rather than an institution. Other focuses included a Nursery School (our current nursery functions out of the church) and of course a beautiful crafts workshop as crafts are the glue holding this project together.
Orphanage Unit

Orphanage Unit

Perhaps the most striking thing about the presentations was that the students had really taken this project into their hearts and given us 100%. They had carefully considered what the children at Rubona would need day-to-day: a relaxing environment for rehabilitation, buildings and landscapes that will encourage playfulness after trauma and sustainable solutions that will help the community maintain the buildings.

The concept for involving architecture students in this type of work comes from visiting scholar Marga Jann, who believes that universities house some of the best creative minds in the country and should use them to help the community. She asks the question “why should students be designing a conceptual building in New York that will never be built when they could be helping their communities with their designs?” It’s a great premise and after a successful first semester of work we’re excited to see this project progress next year.

Crafts Workshop

Crafts Workshop

More details and plans will be posted on our website soon so watch this space!

Construction, Development and Innovation

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

This time last week Sheila Windridge, founder of Edirisa UK, touched down in London after her two week trip to Uganda to check up on all of our projects. One of the most exciting of those projects is a construction enterprise in association with Uganda Martyrs’ University.

Architecture students from the university’s faculty of the Built Environment are embarking on a project to design and plan an orphanage, nursery school and crafts workshop for the community of Rubona. The Rubona Women’s Group and Orphan Care began in a response to a high number of orphaned children and widowed women in the community. The women make local crafts and invest the profits back in to their community.

The initiative was started by Gyaviira Turinawe in 2007 and in 2010 Edirisa UK decided to support their work by donating knitting and sewing machines and fundraising for much needed building projects. When Marga Jann and Mark Olweny from Uganda Martyrs’ University decided they wanted to help we were delighted, and after the students’ visit to Rubona plans are well under way.

It is anticipated that the project will take 2 years to complete with construction scheduled to begin in 2012. One thing the students were amazed by is the stunning location. Set high on a hill the site has wonderful views over the islands of Lake Bunyonyi and the students intend to work with the natural resources to produce the power needed (solar and wind). The site will include vegetable and fruit gardens as well as water harvesting tanks to eradicate the need for lengthy water collections.

The students plan to use bamboo, eucalyptus, earth bricks, wood and local stone in the construction which will be funded by Edirisa UK.

We really hope to boost the comfort and productivity of this wonderful community that shows great compassion, community spirit and entrepreneurship. Just as Sheila was leaving the village she was gifted by a great example of their ingenuity. The picture below shows a young boy with the wooden bicycle that he made. It doesn’t have peddles but the wheels turn perfectly and it certainly makes for a quick trip down hill!

Wooden bike

Wooden bike

Wooden bike

Wooden bike

Teddies for Tots Part 2

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Teddies - Rubona, Uganda

Teddies - Rubona, Uganda

The orphans at Rubona have received the teddies that we recently sent out to them (see entry ‘Teddies for Tots’ on the 9th of August 2011) kindly donated by Teddies for Tragedies (www.teddiesfortragedies.org.uk).

As you can see from the happy, smiling faces in the photos below, the children were delighted to receive their own teddy bears. Immediately they began naming and comparing the colours of their “babies”, and many wrapped them to their backs in the local way.

It was also a valuable exercise for the craft women at Rubona who were interested to see hand-made toys from another country as many believed that in the western “throw-away culture” such handicrafts had died out. They were eager to compare their own woven designs with the knitted dolls and it was lovely to see that those who usually make crafts for tourists were enjoying the handmade gifts themselves.

Big thanks to Teddies for Tragedies for their wonderful donations.

Sustainability

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

The ladies of the Rubona Women’s and Orphans Development Project are well on the way to self-sustainability and we couldn’t be happier for them. The women make local crafts which they sell (pictured with the children) and they have recently started growing mushrooms of which they have just reaped their first harvest (pictured). The funds they raise go towards caring for the many children in their community left struggling without parents and will provide a livelihood for the families involved.

Mushroom growing, Rubona, Uganda

Mushroom growing, Rubona, Uganda

Edirisa UK are busy raising funds for a series of projects we have stared at Rubona. Firstly, we are keen to grow their sustainable projects and are working with the craft women on imaginative products using quality materials as well as kick starting their business initiatives, such as the mushrooms. Secondly, we are planning a construction project to build an orphanage and nursery school.

We are enormously proud of these caring and sensitive women who have pulled together to help the needy in their communities and to find better ways to help themselves out of poverty. We hope we can continue working with these hardworking and very humbling ladies whose proud smiles speak for themselves.

 

 

Rubona kids and crafts, Uganda

Rubona kids and crafts, Uganda