NEW FRIENDS AROUND EVERY CORNER The road to Kamuli from Uganda’s capitol of Kampala winds through flat East African countryside. Dozens of bird species flit amongst the low savanna scrub (Uganda is one of Africa’s richest countries for bird life). Goat herders at the roadsides smile and wave. A few trucks on their way to the markets of Kampala bearing produce careen down the road from the opposite direction. The drivers give a friendly honk. Look out for a wayward cow, she has the right of way here. The red dirt roads coat your skin and clothes with dust in the dry season, or can become muddy morasses in the rain. The equatorial sun is constant and the heat is ever-present, but most of the time it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. As you enter the more populous outlying villages of the Kamuli district, the excitement builds. It is excitement for something new and different, the chance to help others, and the chance to learn and grow. You enter Kamuli as a stranger, but will quickly feel right at home. The town of Kamuli feels intimate even with a population of 30,000. The little one story houses sprawl in all directions and at every corner friendly faces gather to swap stories. Soon, you will be able to walk freely without worrying about getting lost. Stop into a cafe for a meal of rice, beans, and fresh vegetables and a cold Fanta. You might walk to Kamuli Town’s central market. It is a hive of energy. Farmers hawk tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic from tiny market stalls. Bolts of cheap colorful textiles, sundries, and swarms of people give visitors from America or Europe an experience that is at once colorful and celebratory, but also heart wrenching. The meager commerce and a culture rich in song, dance, and laughter cannot hide the desperate situation of many residents of this African town, especially the children. Kamuli is a place of great potential, but little opportunity. Here in Kamuli, across Uganda, and across much of Africa, there is dire poverty and a lack of access to education, training, and health care. Even so, the people of Kamuli remain open, warm, and hopeful of change. Smiles come easy. As does song. In a place where the people have so little, they offer so much—always willing to share a meal or a story.
As you walk the streets of Kamuli, you will truly meet a new friend around every corner. And those interactions will change your life as you realize the difference you can make. By visiting and lending a helping hand with the 52 Kids Foundation, you are helping to create the inertia for economic change.
AT WORK IN KAMULI The 52 Kids Foundation was created in 2005 out of compassion and the desire to address the very specific needs of a truly disadvantaged group students in Kamuli, Uganda. We take our name from that first group of 52 Kids. We believe that the students we support will become the future leaders and entrepreneurs in their community. The work we do is targeted and unique to aid organizations working in the Kamuli District of Uganda. Our recently overhauled program is called “Smart Aid.” We use a “Smart Aid” philosophy to deliver material, educational, and vocational support to a select group of students across all grade levels. There are three core components to the Smart Aid philosophy. We call them the “3 E’s”— Education, Empowerment, and Employment. Visit us on the web (52kids.org) to learn more about the 3E’s. For the students we work with in Kamuli, we set goals of succeeding in school, finding and creating meaningful employment for themselves when they leave school, and giving back to their community. Many international organizations are doing important work in Kamuli, but ultimately it is the people of Kamuli who will decide their future. The 52 Kids Foundation and our student volunteers work directly with the community to create the conditions for successful enterprises and self-sufficiency.
Our students are chosen based on both need and aptitude. We provide financial support for books, school supplies, and uniforms. We offer one-on-one tutoring of the primary and secondary school curriculums. We also provide technical training and internships during and after school leading to substantially improved chances for lasting employment. Smart Aid isn’t about charity. Continued enrollment in the 52 Kids program is tied to merit-based benchmarks including attendance and maintaining a defined GPA. Each student or their families pays for a portion of the benefits they receive. In most cases there is a period of service to the Foundation and the broader community upon completion of studies. Other projects we undertake must increasingly demonstrate a clear social return on investment (SROI). Smart Aid extends well beyond the classroom. Smart Aid delivers targeted improvements to the community and collaboration with other local and international businesses and non-profits operating in the Kamuli District.
A PLACE TO LIVE & LEARN We have learned over time that there is a strong correlation between student performance and the distance traveled to school. Many of our students must walk long distances from their homes to school and those distances produce fatigue or in some cases result in frequent absence from class. In other cases our kids’ home environment inhibits their ability to focus on their studies. In 2009, the 52 Kids Foundation completed renovations of a two story dormitory located in the heart of Kamuli Town. The Foundation is leasing the property from the mother of one of our students. Our new dormitory offers our students a safe space to sleep and study and healthy meals during the school week. It is a multifunctional space. It also provides guest facilities, a community resource center, and a town library with internet connection.
MANY HANDS ANSWER THE CALL FOR HOME IMPROVEMENT We work with our students and their families on basic improvements to their homes. The major components to this work are the construction of fuel saving stoves, pit latrines, washing stations, and garbage disposal facilities. These modest improvements have a big impact on sanitation and quality of life for our students’ families. By the end of 2009 we have tackled over 90% of the homes on our list. We’re on our way to 100% in 2010.
The home improvement initiative is a joint effort between volunteers from the US, local residents, our students, and their families.
HIGH MARKS FOR THE 52 KIDS FOUNDATION STUDENTS The 2006 Ugandan census shows that in the socioeconomic bracket where the 52 Kids Foundation does its work, 0% of girls and 1.3% of boys graduate from secondary school. All of the secondary students that we support are on track to graduate. That’s a major achievement. All of our 7th graders passed on to secondary school this year, and our younger students are making excellent progress. Many of the students we work with are fast becoming top achievers in their class.
THE 52 KIDS NETWORK: INSPIRED SOCIAL CHANGE AGENTS The 52 Kids Foundation is an expanding community of inspired social change agents. When you travel to Uganda with the us, you’re not only taking a life-changing journey into another culture and helping to change lives in Kamuli, but you’re joining a special community of alumni, students, professionals and friends that we call the 52 Kids Network. The Network is comprised of young people dedicated to realizing their full potential and helping each other get there. Active in fields of international development, sustainability, business, and medicine; we collaborate, mentor, and have fun.
Wherever life takes you, the Network is there. Need help with a college essay, or a grant proposal? Want to stay involved with the important work we are doing in Kamuli? Interested in sustainable agriculture? How about a career in medicine? There’s always someone in the 52 Kids Network to help. We can provide guidance, expertise, or simply a place to check in and say “hi”. We hold annual gatherings, events, fundraisers, and interact online. You can even go back to Uganda!
CHANGING LIVES - INCLUDING YOURS The 52 Kids Foundation offers an intense and rewarding travel experience for high-school and college students interested in academic or career tracks in international development, medicine, and business; or are simply interested in growing their awareness of another culture. A mixture of experiential education, service, and sightseeing, the two-week trips offer a perspective on daily life in Africa that few tourists will ever experience. Travelers pitch in on projects in Kamuli, applying personal interests and expertise to needs within the community —like stove installations to conserve scarce wood resources by as much as 60% over open fires, reforestation, home improvements for families in need, farm and garden projects, health care, and small business development.
“By changing the living situation, or improving the education of a child you are giving them hope for the future, you are giving them a basis for a more sustainable lifestyle where THEY can become the change that they want in their country! My trip to Uganda opened my eyes to a completely different approach to helping people. I realized that you have to start at the root of the problem, you have to address basic needs such as nutrition, a water source, a safe home, and an education before anything else.” — Zoe Adams
Our travel program is different from many study abroad opportunities. We focus on total cultural immersion and allow our travelers the freedom and latitude to explore individual areas of interest. There’s lots of time to pitch in with cookstove construction and home improvements in the village, or contribute to a lesson plan at the school. But there’s also lots of time to explore and soak in the unique, rich, culture of Uganda. Travelers also get to know our Ugandan students, helping them with their studies, organizing soccer matches, and staying with our students’ families. Fast friends are made. The home-stays are the most memorable parts of the trip for many visitors, challenging assumptions and changing perspectives.
“People always told me the trip would change everything. It’s true. I can’t explain what happened to me when I met the families and slept in their homes. I changed. I became more compassionate, more willing to work hard, more frustrated with the way things are in certain places. I grew into a person that understands responsibility, hard work, and happiness. I wish every person could really experience it. Its not a vacation, it’s not a scenic tour, it’s a different world view. It’s an opportunity to change the world and change yourself.” — Kendra Wilkins
Change Yourself Change Your World 52 Kids Foundation 6260 Spear Street Ext Charlotte, VT, 05445 firstname.lastname@example.org (802) 425-2429