2007 Summer Intern Reflections

"One of the best parts of the visit was traveling to do home visits to meet CBHC's beneficiaries and to see their various programs. We interviewed elected community mobilizers who are the heart and soul of these types of programs. Without their organizing, nothing can be accomplished efficiently. Consider the fact that organizing here equates to walking (or biking, CBHC has provided bikes to all of its community mobilizers) home by home to inform and organize meetings. THIS is what grassroots is.it makes me wonder why the we can't organize community based programs in more U.S. neighborhoods when communication is so much easier.we ALL have cell phones in the US for goodness sake. I think it's due partly to the fact that the notion of 'community' is much more inherent in Uganda."

"One image sticks in my mind.the site where vaccines were being administered to young children whom were brought by community mothers. It was done on a few benches by a small church on top of a hill. It seems very provincial when I explain it like this but there was something very nice about it. I mean.these services are being provided in what seemed like a very remote area, but it works and people there recognize the value of CHC in their lives.I think we can learn so much from this type of scenario. For now, I can't articulate the feeling I got from this experience until I figure it out for myself, but I can at least say that it was like.finding a rare and beautiful flower in a thorn-bush in the backyard of an abandoned building, as if people forgot it existed.and then finding small flower buds growing with a closer look. One may get pricked in the search but the mere sight of the flower makes it worthwhile and fulfilling. I say this because these communities are marginalized and suffering, but as in any situation where there is human compassion, hope exists."

"The most impressive aspect of their work, to me, was that that FOC-REV has formed over 20 co-op groups in the District and in neighboring districts. Groups consist of 15-20 people and are made up of the beneficiaries of FOC-REV programs - mostly the adult caretakers of the OVCs but also some of the older OVCs as well. These groups are given capital, in the form of bean and maize seeds and goats and cattle, and group members are trained in group management, modern farming techniques, business/entrepreneurial skills and given the necessary resources, such as farming tools, to utilize what they've received. Each group member yields their own crops and takes care of their own animals, which supplements both their household income and increases nutrition in the household. They are required to return what they borrowed from FOC-REV once they start to yield produce and depending on what their individual group has decided as its terms, they also contribute income to a group bank account. So, after a while, each group is economically empowered to give loans to groups members or invest in more projects. It is a very interesting model."

"While in Uganda, we consulted the experts in the field, such as leaders of the USAID-funded Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and veteran community servants. I concluded that aid programs would be more effective if larger NGOs stopped designing the aid programs and instead funded the CBOs which have a more thorough understanding of their communities' problems. I also learned that providing temporary relief may discourage problem-solving and foster a self-defeating dependency because people may begin to rely on hand-outs after some time. The empowerment programs CBOs develop create community economic sustainability and self-sufficiency, which in turn, allows families hurt by war and poverty to pay for their children's school fees and medical care."