Uganda is at the very heart of the Grow Hope foundation. It’s a country with a history marred in abuse of power and human rights, political unrest, and recent economic reforms. There are 30 different languages spoken in the country of Uganda, an overwhelming amount considering that Uganda (36+ million people) is comparable in size to that of Oregon (3+ million). Poverty abounds, further compounded by a lack of education, poor hygiene practices, and exacerbated by cultural challenges deeply steeped in misinformation and generations of tradition.
There is such need in Uganda.
But the people are resilient, they are quick to learn and while there is much work to be done, they are willing to do it to better themselves and their situation. Sometimes an outstretched hand is all that is needed to give someone the education and opportunities needed to change directions. It can make all the difference in saving a life, feeding a family, sending a child to school and stopping the harmful cycle of accepting the status quo. Safe water supplies can be established, sanitary latrines can be dug and used appropriately, adults and children alike can be educated, gardens can be grown, and families can thrive with the knowledge and skills to provide for themselves. We’ve begun to build on these principles with our pilot project in Tusubira Village and so much good has come in such a short amount of time that our hearts are filled with conviction and hope that so much more good will continue to unfold, and bring happiness along with it to the people we’ve grown to love so much.
Looking forward, we want nothing more than to continue to carry that same message of “Empowerment Through Education” to other communities in the area, and it has become our heart directed mission at the Grow Hope Foundation to do our best for the people of Uganda, so that they can, in turn, do for themselves.
Did You Know? A few facts about Uganda:
Uganda is a landlocked country on the east side of Africa, bordered by Kenya, DR Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan, and a tiny corner of Rwanda
The UK placed Uganda as a protectorate in 1894
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962, only to be terrorized by years of chaotic leadership and bloody uprisings
The soil in Uganda is rich in minerals, and suitable for gardening and farming
Coffee is the main export, with other interests in tea, cotton, tobacco and beef
Uganda is a cultural melting pot, there are 30 different indigenous languages
- The AIDS epidemic continues to have a devastating and deadly effect on the population of Uganda, along with a myriad of other preventable and equally devastating diseases and afflictions
The meeting that started it all.
When Kimberly Taylor traveled to Africa two years ago to photograph the opening of a children’s home she would have never guessed it would lead her to starting her own non-profit organization, The Grow Hope Foundation. However, while she was there she met a doctor who took her to tour a children’s hospital. She had so many questions - Why so many sick kids? How many of them had been there before? What is it that creates this cycle? And most importantly, what can be done to stop it? Together, Kimberly and Dr. Isaac Lufafa began working on a plan - a pilot project- to educate families on the importance of hygiene and sanitation. Dr. Lufafa assembled a team of volunteers- a social worker to connect with the women, and a technical expert who would handle the research and resources for the project. Together they chose an area outside of Jinja, Uganda. They worked with village elders to identify 40-50 homes that were in need of help and would be receptive to making changes. They began weekly meetings to teach people about things like building proper latrines and actually showed them how to do it correctly. They taught them how to make simple hand washing stations, called tip-tops, which would allow them to improve hygiene and reduce the spread of germs that cause severe health problems. The members then learned how to make sanitation tables where they were to keep their cooking utensils and anything they used for eating. These tables allowed them to wash and store their supplies in a safe sanitary manner and again reduced the spread of fecal contamination diseases. Every home in the pilot project was required to build these three things in order to improve their health and well-being. At the end of the one year pilot project the results were impressive. Families were healthier- especially the children, hospital visits were drastically reduced, and there were no deaths due to the secondary effects of poor sanitation or hygiene. But even more encouraging were the unexpected benefits of the program. People began to ask for more knowledge- especially in regards to nutrition. Now that they were seeing the physical effects then wanted to continue to improve their health. A farming program was started, and people learned how to plant vegetables in recycled grain sacks and began growing their own produce. Groups were formed to work on plots of land to learn how to properly plant, mulch, water and harvest different crops. Their diets began to improve and so did both their physical and mental health. Hope began to return to this rural area.
After a year of working with this community, Kimberly and the team in Uganda felt that what had been offered to these 40-50 families could be a life-changing opportunity to so many people in the surrounding countryside. A piece of land amounting to 4 acres was purchased by Dr. Isaac in the center of the community. Plans for an educational compound were drawn up. The name Tusubira Village was decided upon, tusubira meaning “hope” in the local language.
Meanwhile Kimberly and her husband Chris were in Seattle, thinking of ways that they could help grow this project. With the help of Kimberly’s dad they registered their non-profit and were granted 501(c)(3) status in 2014. That was a good year for a number of reasons for the Grow Hope Foundation. With the help of an Indiegogo campaign they funded a well which was drilled at Tusubira Village. The water from this well is changing lives in this village. Not only is it clean and completely safe for drinking, but the well is easily accessible by roads unlike the previous water source, which was accessed through the jungle. Attacks on women and children were common and the results were devastating. With the well now in operation this is no longer a concern. The peace of mind that that fact must bring to the community is one of the many unexpected bonuses in all of this.
And this is just the beginning. When complete this educational compound will offer foundation building lessons on the same things the pilot project were taught- how to improve one’s health through better sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. It also offers skills classes in things like sewing, farming and weaving which will offer people an opportunity to create an income. It will offer education in the form of reading, writing and math, both to children and adults who never had a chance to attend school. It will house a workshop that will not only host these classes but also be available to visiting professionals willing to share their knowledge with a community eager to learn. There will be a social worker onsite to work with families addressing challenges that to date have never been addressed. She will also be able to facilitate classes and be a direct link with the community so that the team is better able understand the needs of the people in this area.