A story of two villages
In 2017 a conversation began....
…it was a conversation destined to have far reaching consequences. A young man from a rural village in Uganda in Eastern Africa, told me “Sir, I want to change my life…”. The exploration that followed through daily discussion turned into a friendship.
The exchange made several things clear to me…This young man Ddumba Hakim from the Baganda tribe in Uganda was both sincere and willing to work to see the changes in his life and the life of his village.(Kyamulibwa, Uganda in East Africa). Over time He and his brother, Mubiru Akram, explained to me the challenges their village faced and together we explored the resources at hand to face those challenges.
Before long our conversations expanded to include members of my village (Madrid, New Mexico, USA) as well…in a very short time the village to village relationship grew deeper and a sister-village relationship developed. Small donations and stories of African and New Mexican village life flew back and forth across the internet and a more in-depth relationship developed. Collaborative projects arose. The first was a chicken farm set up by the women’s group; then a couple of children were sponsored by village members in the US; these successes foretold even greater potential. The enthusiasm in both villages grew.
In 2018 the orphan sponsorship program was officially started and today the program sponsors over 22 student scholars and adds students and sponsors each month. By then also, two bore-hole wells had been dug, providing fresh, clean water for a large number of villagers. Seeds had been exchanged. And then a cloud appeared on the horizon…
The on-line community in the US discovered an article on-line about scam charities in Uganda…this began questions for some people...Had we been scammed? The spreading concern began to throw suspicion on the projects.
We began conversations with our friends in Uganda about accountability and transparency and how we should move forward. Through these conversations, Save Kyamulibwa Alliance Uganda (SKAU) was officially formed and registered with the government in Uganda. A committed team of Ugandans from Kyamulibwa and the nearby area stepped forward to steward the organization and carry out the mission of improvement in the sub-county. (see the SKAU Team) (New Village Alliance is SKAU’s official representative in the USA.) The registering of the organization in Uganda addressed the accountability issue in Uganda, but I wanted to be able to say to the people in my village that I had seen with my own eyes and could personally guarantee that their hard earned money was doing the work that they hoped and believed it was.
So in February of 2019 I boarded a plane to Uganda with my youngest son, Quanah Lee. We would see the projects in person and it would also give us the chance to meet the whole team and see the problems firsthand. Not only did we confirm what we had believed to be true, (ALL the projects had been completed as we had been told and shown through photos)….But we came back more committed than ever to help our friends in Kyamulibwa get momentum and improve their lives.
I returned again in June of 2019 to bring 4 more people from our village to visit and to see and help along the progress. A deeper understanding of the issues and more support both on-line and from my village has allowed expansion of the projects in a number of directions.
Since then we have evolved co-management methods that involve daily communication and dialogue, enabling us to co-operate in ways impossible until very recently. New technology makes entirely new ways for aid to be applied more accurately and cost-effectively. Top heavy, cash hungry non-profits just can’t be as responsive to either donors or beneficiaries. New models for aid efforts are more targeted, more personal and more fulfilling for the donors who are providing the means to make positive change.
In the coming months we’ll add content here including an interview video with myself and NVA board member Andrew Wice discussing the projects….we also have plans to include Baganda cultural material in video and written form…stay tuned.
What you see here is what has grown out of a commitment, on the part of individuals and villages. It has proven to be a vision that has changed lives.
We invite you to share the vision and join with our village in this new type of grassroots effort to stand in solidarity with rural people in Africa.
Brian Lee McMahon