SDG 17: Building Partnerships
Partnership: a relationship involving close cooperation between parties having specified responsibilities.
Words Into Deeds programs are most effective and sustainable when we establish good working partnerships among participants. These can be informal, as example having a team of students, teachers, and school administrators empowered to work together to achieve defined goals. Or more formal, such as in the Gender Equity – WASH program described above, with detailed budgets and timelines. In this case, each different organization brings unique skills to the program, and each partner benefits by having members of their organization share resources and learn from others in the program.
OUR CURRENT PARTNERS IN UGANDA
The UNIFAT Primary School in Gulu, Uganda was founded in 1992 to serve orphans and broken families victimized by nearly two decades of civil war then HIV and now enrolls over 600 students, PreK – 7. The enthusiastic embrace of Words Into Deeds concepts and practical aspects of the program by the school’s teachers, students, and oversight committees have led to implementation of a broad range of student-led community service projects, which are described in the next sections.
Before all Ugandan schools were closed due to the pandemic, students learned about this infectious disease and began making liquid soap, packaging it in small bottles that were given to each student.
Since then, the project has continued and scaled up to include sales of both small and larger containers of soap to community organizations and schools, and as partners in the Gender Equity-WASH program they supply 1-liter reusable bottles of soap to each recipient of a feminine hygiene kit.
UNIFAT students have expanded their community outreach activities related to WASH. Grade 6 and 7 students (shown wearing yellow shirts) are making the liquid soap, while grade 4 and 5 students (wearing WASH shirts) decided to use their voices to “spread the word” about principles and importance of hygienic practices. Mentored by teachers Oloya Doreen and Adong Eunice, they developed song and dance routines that have been performed for their peers, parents, and the Wawoto seamstress trainees. They plan to schedule trips to other schools.
The Abukloi Secondary School, located in Rumbek, South Sudan, enrolls nearly 650 students, 250 of whom are girls. They have launched a student-run soap-making project, and are in the planning stage to set up a sewing classroom that would offer vocational training and also produce feminine hygiene kits.
The Wawoto Kacel Cooperative Society of Gulu was founded by Adong Immaculate in 1997 to provide support and training for women ostracized from the community for health issues, disabilities, or societal stigmas. Trainees are taught how to manufacture traditional woven, paper, and beaded crafts, produce clothing with contemporary designs, and also develop skills in the full range of “from cotton to finished product.”
For the Gender Equity – WASH program, they expanded capacity, including the purchase of 10 additional sewing machines and hiring additional trainers. The co-op serves as the feminine hygiene kit production site, and coordinates with CPA and UNIFAT to provide additional materials and educational programs.
Artisans and seamstress trainees from Wawoto Kacel and students from UNIFAT recently visited each other’s venues. UNIFAT students learned about the co-op’s mission, received bead-making lessons from the artisans, and were instructed how to make their own tie-dye t-shirts. The Wawoto trainees in turn visited UNIFAT and met with teachers and students. They were given tours and instructions in soap-making and vegetable gardening.
Concerned Parents Association (CPA) of Gulu, Uganda, enrolls youth who are mostly late-teen or early twenty years old and often were unable to attend/complete high school. Under the leadership of Ocen Fred Briyan and Olara Geoffrey, CPA provides vocational training and support enabling these young adults to launch independent, sustainable businesses, with emphasis on practical aspects of entrepreneurship. For over a year, many CPA students participated in the Words Into Deeds-sponsored Youth Empowerment Summit Program, during which they shared their projects with UNIFAT students and international partners. CPA serves as the hub for personal counseling, reproductive health classes, and vocational training related to running a business for the new trainees.
CPA leaders Briyan (left) and Goeffrey (right) with young entrepreneurs who have launched independent businesses.
Gertrude reviewing lessons and activities in the Gender Equity-WASH and other Words Into Deeds projects.
Several of these CPA-trained individuals are active participants in ongoing enrichment activities for UNIFAT students. These include visits to the school and hosting field trips to the venues where they have established businesses, often in collaboration with local village leaders.
When UNIFAT students wanted to expand their vegetable garden, they invited Ocaya Simon Peter from CPA to help them with soil preparation, crop choice, and sustainability. Subsequently, a group of 20 UNIFAT students visited the Te Okutu Village, where Simon has been teaching village youth about both traditional and contemporary agricultural practices, emphasizing the value of organic practices, site selection for different crops, and marketing practices. For many of these students it was their first time visiting a traditional Acholi community farm, seeing how their rural peers are learning agricultural skills and earning money to support their education.
Introducing UNIFAT students to principles of soil management and organic farming, and later having them examine best growing conditions for various crops including eggplants.
The students next visited an organic oyster mushroom farm developed by CPA members Acire Geoffrey and Okella Peter at a village in Unyama. These are an unusual crop for this region, and are intended primarily for restaurants and specialty food shops.
Students visiting one of the mushroom incubators. The arrow (left) shows an early fruiting body emerging.
The students’ field trip concluded with lunch at the Min Omara restaurant. This was founded by another CPA trainee, Adokorach Carolyn. She shared her story of how, as a young child, she helped her mother cook at a roadside kiosk in order to support the family. Building on these skills, augmented with training at CPA in marketing and business practices, she and her sister now prepare over 150 meals a day, mostly for local customers. Hers is a typical Ugandan roadside restaurant lacking electricity or water, wherein hot meals are prepared using charcoal pits.
Carolyn in front of her kiosk and inside the cooking area. There are seating areas in front of and beside her restaurant.
Former CPA student Aye Yesu Victory had the idea that making designer paper bags for shops and schools was an un-met potential market. She rented space in the Gulu city market and began the process of cutting, pasting, silk-screening or off-set printing her designs, then finishing various sizes of bags. All components are past and future recyclables. Her business supports her family and several young assistants who are learning the trade.
Victory (left) with UNIFAT students who learned each step in the bag-making process. She also shared with them the importance of having a realistic business plan.
Students from the Affiliated High School of Chung-Hsing University meeting UNIFAT students using ZOOM teleconferencing (left) and later participating with all program partners and invited guests at the International Youth Empowerment Summit held in April, 2022.
Teachers and students at the Chung-Hsing University-Affiliated High School in Taichung, Taiwan have been partners with Words Into Deeds since 2021. Under the leadership of teacher MeiMei Mary Shih, students have focused on projects addressing human rights, quality education, gender equity, and digital literacy throughout Taiwan and globally. They students designed and are continuing to present on-line computer training workshops for UNIFAT and CPA students.
Staff and teachers in training at Gulu University following a Words Into Deeds professional development workshop.
In April, 2022 Words Into Deeds presented a 1-day workshop for staff and students in the Faculty of Education and Humanities of Gulu University. Following this, at the invitation of Professor Okumu John Bismark, plans were launched to jointly sponsor workshops for high school and primary school teachers drawn from the greater Gulu district. These are tentatively scheduled for early 2023, during the summer break in Uganda.