It has finally happened: the projects have begun. The last time I posted on La Flog, a few EDGE Project members were already in Uganda, but the projects had yet to begin and only the initial groundwork had been laid. Now, the picture is very different. A few weeks into the projects, immense progress has been made and great things are expected in the coming weeks.
Right now, a group of UW students and recent graduates are participating in EDGE Project’s inaugural community development projects in Lingira, Uganda, a small island community in Lake Victoria. The group has been among 40-50 student researchers who spent the spring semester researching the community and crafting project proposals related to areas of agriculture, health and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, education, and women’s empowerment. The programs cut across all those disciplines as well as a few we didn’t quite anticipate.
The projects are going immensely well. After a few days traveling around the island and getting to know the community, our group conducted interviews to get a sense of individuals’ concerns and the programs they thought would help them. From there, we reformed our projects. Although some required only tweaks in the margins, others required a drastic overhaul of what we anticipated. Either way, the projects seem to be coming along quite well. Below are a few examples:
- Farmers’ Association: In preparation for the creation of a Farmers’ Association, EDGE is hosting three town hall-style meetings in Lingira to gauge community concerns when it comes to farming as well as how they view food security, their use of the crops they grow (whether for personal consumption or sale), and sustainable farming solutions. After initial discussions, it was clear that the issues of irrigation and pest control are most pressing. This forum will be the foundation of an eventual Farmers’ Association in Lingira.
- Global Studies Education: EDGE members will be teaching classes at both the primary and secondary schools in Lingira related to global studies and awareness. After discussing their own community and the diversity therein, they will be asked about their travels as well as about other countries, cultures, and traditions.
- Family Planning Training: After realizing that women aren’t able to breastfeed due to ramifications of poor family planning, EDGE joined forces with another organization on the island to create family planning training workshops for new mothers.
- Grain Mill: Together with the Headmaster of the Secondary School, EDGE has purchased a grain mill for the community to grind corn and other products into usable flour.
- Women’s Empowerment: The women’s empowerment component of EDGE has a few parts. EDGE will host various forums within which women and girls will be able to discuss issues of women’s rights as well as their goals and the challenges facing their communities. The program also has an artisan program whereby women can create crafts, textiles, wallets, and purses to be sold.
In just about a week, nine total EDGE members (some in Uganda and some flying in) will be attending the AGOA Forum in Nairobi, where they will be participating in the Civil Society component. We are very excited about the prospects this creates and look forward to seeing how EDGE expands with the networks it builds and the exciting work it is doing!