Thursday, 19 July 2012

Farmer Meeting

Today we went to do some farm research near Kangulumira. We stopped at the clinic first to drop off Sophia so she can do some home-visits with Barbara. Then Israel, Henri and I drove about 5 minutes out of town to visit a pineapple-drying farm. I met the owner, Muhamad Abas, and was introduced by Israel. He explained that he would be interpreting the conversation for us and also that Henri would be helping. I introduced myself in Luganda and Muhamad seemed quite surprised and happy. He asked how long I have been here for and Israel said “days” and that made Muhamad surprised. We began our interview and the transcribed interview is below.

To summarize the interview, we spoke mostly about his operational limitations with his organic certification and just the basics of how he ran his farm. His biggest limitation was that he needed a certification to be recognized as organic and to be able to export his products to the EU. He currently cannot afford the certification and said the fee was 50,000,000 Uganda shillings. At the current exchange rate of 2,400 to the dollar that would be about US $20,000 which seems insanely outrageous to me. I am currently doing some research to find out the validity of this number. He said another organization has the certification and therefor he sells to them at a low price and they in turn export the products to the EU at 10X’s the rate that they buy them from Muhamad for.

We also spoke of these daily operations. He has 30 employees, mostly women, who work for about 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. They get paid 2,000 shillings per day which is about a dollar day which I believe is about the national average. He sells a kilo of the dried pineapple for 8,000 shillings and can produce 30 kilos per day. At that rate he can make 29,000 shillings per day in product ($1,000). This is his revenue, not profit as he buys the pineapple from local growers. He does have a small farm in which he grows pineapple but he buys most of it from the farmers.

Israel and I spoke of how this operation could be transformed into our business plan. We noted that if we are able to secure a certification, we can use that for all the products growing on the farm. We will do some research and try to see how much it costs and add it to the plan. Since Muhamad buys the pineapple from other farmers, we can make the process more efficient by growing the pineapple ourselves. We would plot out the acres of the farms to farmers who would receive the land for free, and they would grow their certain crop in their plot.

We left the farm and thanked Muhamad. He left us with a smile and gave us each a huge handful of the pineapple. We thanked him and headed to Henri’s family’s farm. We went to see what his farm looked like and what ours could possibly look like. His farm is very large, probably over 10 acres. The land is his fathers, passed on from his father and is plotted out to him and his brother. They grow pineapple, mango, sugar cane, coffee and other fruit on the land. During our walk Israel and Henri were speaking in Luganda and I rarely was able to understand the conversation. I did ask some questions as we walk and found out the following from Israel per personal communication:

                Pineapple can grow in cycles of 7 years. After 7 years is up the nutrients are unable to support the growth and one needs to grow another crop on that land. I asked him if the market for pineapples get saturated because it seems like most everyone grows pineapple and wondered if there were so many that the prices were being driven down. He said that pineapple was so popular and it was used every day that the prices still stayed high enough to farm. I told Israel about shade grown coffee and he had never heard of it. I told him that shade grown is known to be the best 1% of coffee grown in the world and demands a high price. He wants to know how it is grown because he believes it will just grow very high as it will reach for the sun and not become bushy and produce well.

Wabwoko Clinic- Kevin Hutchinson

Wabwoko Clinic

Today we travel to Wobwoko to an epilepsy clinic. Wobwoko is about an hour’s drive past Kangulumira so about an hour and a half total. We stop at the clinic first to pick up the team and there are about 8 of us in the van. What a wonderful team of inspired and beautiful people! The drive from the clinic is much bumpier and the villages get smaller and smaller. There are still many concrete buildings and huts along the way. We arrive at a clinic in Wobwoko that they let us use for the day. As we pull in the site is overwhelming, there are around 160 people outside waiting. What a site to see! The need here is so great; I can’t believe what the need is in other villages that we are not reaching. Many of these families have been waiting for 3 hours for us to come. I feel bad because we take so long to get up and moving. If we were able to get out of the house earlier we can get to these people sooner!

We walk into the clinic and the families stare at us white Mzungus. None of them here say Mzungu though which makes me wonder why. I have been learning Luganda a bit more and have my little cheat sheet. I say things like “hello, how are you?” and “Good morning, how was your night?” The faces of these people light up when you speak Luganda. It is such a beautiful culture and the people just touch your heart. Sophia and I are assigned to count medication. We think we are going to do this for about an hour or so, little do we know this is an all-day adventure. I am planning to count medicine then go observe Steven and Barbara do their exercises and hopefully interview some parents as Teresha noted that this would be a good time to do so as many of the parents are very open and interesting.

We begin to count medicine; I put 70 phenobarbital tablets in a packet and do this about 70 more times! It is very tedious work but as I see the line I understand the need and why this needs to be done. We worked like this for about 2 hours while practicing our Luganda every once-in-a-while to families standing in line. We took a break to see Steven and Barbara working with clients. They only served about 12 children today, most just get the medication and leave because they walk so far to get there. We come back in and the rest of the day, about 3 hours, we count more medicine. It is very tiring and boring work and I was wishing I was able to observe or interview parents but understand that the work is good and needs to be done. There is such a need here!!! I hope and pray that the medication works and those other villages are able to be reached in the future.

We gather up and head off for home!

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Together we can make a difference

  Thank you so much for your continuing support.

Great News: 

One new activity has been training community leaders and key members of the community.  We still see negative views towards those with a disability. Often doors are shut in Ugandan society for people with disabilities. Our heart is to see children and people with disabilities have access to all areas of community life. So in January we hosted sensitisation meetings for Kangulumira local leaders.  We have felt a burden to train the church leaders on how to reach out and support people with disabilities. So far we have hosted three seminars for pastors to teach them what disability is, the truth of what causes a disability, what role the church has in reaching out to people with disabilities, and ways the church can reach out to include people with disabilities in the church. We also shared that God made people with disabilities in his image and that people with disabilities are people first. 

Over the last few years 

we have been receiving occupational therapy students from across the globe. Here in Uganda  we have the privilege of receiving 2nd and 3rd year occupational therapy students from Mulago School of Occupational Therapy. Prosy and Cathy are two of our most recent students, with us in April and May. Prosy said, “ I am currently on field placement for 2 months. As an occupational therapy student I’ve been carrying out different activities which have assisted me in completing my studies. I am a 3rd  year student and working in SOHUG has been my last placement. I enjoyed my time with SOHUG immensly.”

One of our Children

Nayiima. We met her and her mom at a Parish Clinics. They had never received help before. Nayiima has a lot of potential, but hasn’t had the opportunities. They’ve started coming to drop-in clinics. Her mother was so encouraged she’s decided to enrol Nayiima in school.  Mama Nayiima lives alone with very little money to supports herself and her children but the school’s assisted with a reduced rate but Nayiima is still in need of a  sponsor.  Please contact us if you would like to support Nayiima or one of our other children.

Our new Occupational Therapist! 

 Barbara Nattabi has started and is using her great skills. We are truly excited to see the talents and enthusiasm that Barbara brings to the team. A word from Barbara- I am a qualified occupational therapist.  I am Muganda (tribe) from Luweero district. I enjoy listening to gospel music and cooking. I have been working with SOHUG for the last two months and it is a great place to work!  I very much enjoy working in the community, as each day is different.  I carry out assessments in the community, make home visits and follow up programs for clients who need therapy, teach activities of daily living (especially work and self-care), prescribe special equipment, teach vocational skills, supervise  OT students and interns and counsel clients and their families.

Drop-in Clinics

 run on Thursdays, starting at 10am often going on until 4pm depending on numbers generally over 20 children each week. Parents bring their children for treatment from the physiotherapist or occupational therapist. The children’s ages range from babies to school-age children.  The disability type varies and includes those with Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy. Each child receives an individualized therapy program and progresses at their own rate. Some children cry and scream the whole time even though they are not in any pain, while others laugh and giggle when bounced on the balls. Therapy is given in a fun way; toys are used to distract and motivate children as therapists manipulate and stretch joints in the position that is most beneficial for the child. It is also a time for parents to learn and develop their skills as they watch attentively and therapists provide suggestions for exercises to work on at home. We’ve seen huge improvements in condition, mobility and overall attitude. 

Expected Soon 

We are excitedly awaiting the newest member of our SOHUG family: Baby “Wise” Karahukayo is due to be born later this month will be the first child born to Israel and Teresha Karahukayo (Directors).

Every Little Helps

 We just want to say thank you to all of you who kindly give to SoH. We really appreciate every sacrifice you make for the children with disabilities here in Uganda. The projects and initiatives run on donations from people like you.  For anyone interested in giving, please contact us directly or go to our website to give (see more details in the right column)

Thank you again for all your support
from everyone at Spring of Hope.