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Brownie Ebal: This Beautiful Ugandan Soul and her Kitabu-Buk Project

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1492281_293714634149137_8912800859694130244_oThis beautiful soul will amaze you. She has rolled up her sleeves to distribute books to the Kids in most need.  While her age-mates spend a lot of time on Instagram taking photos of themselves and their food, this 23-year-old is preoccupied with where she can get the next set of books to take to the children of her country. Here is her story.

How to do you describe yourself?

I am a hard working and passionate individual who believes in the love of humanity. In Primary school, I studied at Greenhill Academy then Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga for O’ level and finally Nabisunsa Girl’s school for A’level. I come from a family of 5, I am the second born in the family. My father is Christopher Ebal , and my mother is Joyce Ebal.

You are the World at School Global Youth Ambassador, how did that happen?

I applied for the UN Advocacy Group and failed to get it, they then recommended me to apply for the Global Youth Ambassadors programme, so I did and got it.

What inspired you to start the Kitabu-Buk Project?

When I attended the youth assembly at the United Nations conference, in New York, I was amazed by what other youth were doing. Many of them were from developed countries helping people in developing countries. This made me think of a way in which, us as fellow Ugandans could help our own. We, as Africans know our countries better so, it was only proper that we could help our own. I love reading and realized that most children though in school do not have access to textbooks. When i returned, i went home collected all the books in our house and told my friends about it and we organised our first donation event.

So what activities do you engage in while fundraising?

In fundraising, we sell various items like Kitenge clothes, bracelets and shoes. We believe that we should not only just ask people for money but give them value for their money. We plan to hold a car wash fundraiser. We also plan to hold a book drive whereby as a team we read stories to the young children, teach them simple Maths, English and art and in return, the entrance fee is a book for them to come for the event. We also are partnering with UNITED an NGO that helps campus students to be able to take part in charity works. We also got a donation from MK publishers of books worth one million Uganda shillings. We want to work with the local companies to create an impact in our society.

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At your age, most youth are more concerned about personal happiness and caring less. What makes you different?

I love challenges and going an extra mile.My first international voluntary experience in Ethiopia, opened my eyes to what makes us happy. The children i taught were HIV orphans and they were the happiest people i had ever met. this inspires me to create happiness in the lives of others.

You are a Law student at University of Dar El Salaam and your project is in Uganda, how do you balance the two?

I have a team that helps a lot. I acknowledge the great work of Ameso Angela, who is the co-founder and is running the organisation as i am not around. I thank my family, my mother Joyce Ebal, who is our patron and is helping give advice. I also acknowledge the work of Chris Agira, Kironde Hilda,Nakanjako Margaret, Brenda Ajok ,Opio David and Brian Ebal, who believed in my idea when most did not.

Is your family supportive of what you do outside law school?

Yes, my family is very supportive,they believe that education entails the whole package. it involves doing well in and outside school.

Your project deals with children which the society often neglects, tell us one particular story that touched you?

The story that touched me was in Aliwang Primary school, where we asked the children what they want to become and many of them wanted to be presidents of Uganda so that they can change the country. This made me realize that we have all the potential in the world to make Uganda a better country.

Considering the fact that your project is still relatively young, what have you achieved so far?

We started in August 2014. We have donated books to five schools across the country, three in central and two in Northern Uganda. We are officially a fully registered NGO and have so far donated over five hundred (500) textbooks, two hundred (200) newspapers and over a thousand (1000) stationery items like for example one thousand (1000) mathematical sets, twelve (12) dozens of chalk, two hundred (200) pencils and two hundred (200) pens together with rubbers.

Wow that is awesome! What has been your best experience so far ever since you started the project?

The donation in Aliwang primary school was the best experience ever because I saw students who literally had no shoes, walk about two miles to school barefooted, study in over crowded classrooms and still manage to be so happy and have big aspirations of being presidents of Uganda.

Any worst moments?

The application process to become a registered NGO, when we were told we had to repeat the process because we had missed a crucial signature. me and Angela were so tired that we wanted to give up, but Ronald Ssekandi, who runs Writers for Development gave us hope to not give up. I am forever grateful.

What challenges do you face while doing activities related to your project?

Getting media coverage is so hard and yet it is crucial to be able to showcase impact and raise awareness.

We know challenges are trying moments. When such challenges come up, do you feel like you want to quit and regret having started your project?

Haha, yes, that has happened a lot, but now am getting used to the challenges, if you have a vision, these are just stepping stones and the makings of a great story.

Do you plan to continue with Kitabu-Buk Project when you are done with school?

Yes, i want to continue with it.The first step of making Kitabu a registered as NGO has already been covered. Now, we trying to get it to donate to all regions in Uganda so it is known nationwide.I also hope to expand it to cover the East African region.

You and your team go to schools in Lira, Kampala suburbs and mostly upcountry. Do you follow up these activities after a successful campaign?

Yes, we do,we get in touch with the head teachers of the school and yearly, we want to go and conduct interviews on the impact of the books donated or the materials given towards the children’s lives.

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Any reward or accolades ever since you begun?

Inspiring confidence in young children’s lives. That is the best reward i can get as a person who is seeking to instill confidence in someone who almost gives up school and society seems not to be paying attention.

If someone wants to contribute to your project, where and how do they contribute?

Oh yes. They can drop old and new textbooks or materials at our offices located at Apple Kid’s Nursery school P.O.Box 6215, Bukoto, Plot 261 on the Bukoto Northern By-pass road next to Kampala International School of Uganda. By telephone, they can reach out to us through the numbers 0783109264/ 0773842222/ 070464757. Our  Mobile money account is 0783109264, Facebook The Kitabu-Buk Project and on our Website- www.thekitabubukproject2014.wordpress.com

Which people do you admire? And Why?

I admire my mother and father because through education they have come from humble backgrounds to become successful. I also admire Koffi Annan, because i believe he has made a great impact on the lives of others during his time as United Nations Secretary General. I also admire Malala fellow Global Youth Ambassador and Chernor Bah,for their efforts to get very child in school.

If you were given an opportunity to change Uganda, what would be that one thing you would change in Uganda?

I would make a proper survey of how people want to be taught in class and change the education system,to suit our societies’ needs because i believe so many people have talents that are not being exploited by our current system. I also am looking for a away to inspire confidence among the youth because that is something that is affecting youth.

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who inspired confidence among the youth to be better than themselves.

What advice could you give to youth of Uganda today?

We are a blessed group of people who should spend our knowledge finding solutions to our everyday problems.

Any last words?

Thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity, to share my experience. Am deeply honoured and may God guide you in everything that you do.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Suubi Susan

    April 30, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Ebal Brownie & Ameso Angella
    may the Almighty Lord bless the work you do.
    Its awesome

  2. emmanuel obong

    April 30, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    i appreciate all the effort you are putting to make this world a better place for those young girls and boys may the Lord reward you aboundantly.

  3. Anonymous

    May 1, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I am proud of you Brownie, the extra step put of the ordinary you took is amazing. Keep up the good work

  4. Akol Adrian Neville

    May 1, 2015 at 6:33 am

    I am proud of you Brownie, the extra step out of the ordinary is amazing. Children will always remain the future that needs to be modeled now. Keep up the good work my dear.

  5. Seremba Claire

    May 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Totally a step in right direction and truly inspiring!!

  6. mwesigye siryebo

    May 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you for the great work you do, am also looking forward to do something that may help the children.

  7. Anonymous

    May 5, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Keep it up Brownie….i love the courage in u. U inspires me alot.

  8. Anonymous

    May 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    MAY GOD SEE YOU THROUGH ALL
    ALONG

  9. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I can work with you. Thanks for being passionate about helping kids

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Profiles

How This Group of Young Men is Creating Employment Through Art and Craft

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BY MARVIN MUTYABA

A group of 6 youths in Makindye has embarked on a life changing journey, turning their passions and skills into a profitable business.

After attending a crafts exhibition at the National Theatre in 2015, these friends were inspired by the attractive crafts on display to start their own workshop making and selling crafts.

“We talked to Mr. Muwembo, the craftsman who was showcasing his work. He offered to give us training as we worked for him. His workshop was in Kanyanya so we used to come from Makindye every day to Kanyanya. It took us over a year to master how wood craft is done,” said Mark.

While at this apprenticeship, these young men started making their own pieces which they sold, using the profit to purchase their own equipment.

“We had a strategy. Every month we had to buy equipment. After a year, we had developed skills and were able to start our own workshop,” said Malakai, one of the proprietors of the workshop. “To start any business, it needs commitment, passion, and ready to take risks, consistency and involvement.”

In 2016, these committed youth started their workshop on a small piece of land given to them by Malakai’s father at Lukuli, Nanganda.

“After two months, KCCA came and demolished our workshop saying that they wanted only built up structures on the main road. Even all our equipment and materials were taken. We went back to zero and all our savings had been used to buy these things,” narrates Mark. “We visited KCCA offices several times trying to see if we could recover the materials. We had lost wood, vanish, paints and tools like small axes, carving tools, pry bars, clamps, hammers and marking tools. We never got any back so we gave up on them”

As a result, their work was put on a standstill for some time. This was a very big set back to their dream of building a very big craft shop. Their next challenge was getting another location.

“Towards the end of 2016, KCCA advertised a funding opportunity for the youths who had business ideas and also those that had running businesses. We wrote a proposal but this took a while and we never not get any feedback.”

Desperate for capital to start over, they sought loans from their parents to no luck. Only Abdul’s parents supported them with a small loan that wasn’t sufficient to cover the cost of materials and new equipment.

“During that time, there was a road construction project. we asked for jobs and worked there for 6 months. We saved all our money and rented a small piece of land where we put up a workshop. This time it was not on the main road.  We started working again and lucky enough, we had market from our time at Muwembo”s workshop,” narrates Mark.

Malakai working on one of the pieces in the workshop

Due to their hard work, these six young men have managed to create jobs and employ more eleven young people who distribute and take on other tasks like filing, shaping, chiseling, painting among others. The group is constructing a workshop and a showroom on the main road in Lukuli. By next year, they believe, the workshop will be done.

“Basing on the current situation in the country, we are able to earn a living and also employ other people,” says Abdul.

When asked about their goals, this inseparable team wants to have at least 100 employees by the end of next year and also start exporting their craft. They encourage their fellow Ugandans to follow their passion and find a way of earning from it.

*This is a guest post by MARVIN MUTYABA, a student at Makerere University Business School, currently pursuing a Business Administration in his second year. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, skills development and fitness. 

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How Kasule Is Changing The Lives Of Children Of Prisoners One By One

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BY SHANINE AHIMBISIBWE

Jimmy Kasule Chan is a 29-year-old man who has dedicated his life to supporting the children of prisoners in Uganda. With over sixteen children from twelve families in his programme today, he is working towards his vision of a prosperous future for the children of Ugandan prisoners.

Kasule (Right) does homework with one of the children in the programme

His desire to change the lives of prisoner’s children was awakened in 2012 when he was wrongfully detained at the Harare remand centre in Zimbabwe for six months.

My friend had told me to go with him to South Africa for work. When we got there, things were very tight and we decided to come back home after two weeks with some electronics for sale. We thought this could be our business. On our way, we had to go through Harare but we did not have some stamps in our passports. Because Uganda does not have an embassy in Zimbabwe, we had gone through the Tanzanian embassy but the people at the border could not understand this. We were taken to Interpol and on getting there, we were arrested for Border Jump. We were detained in Harare remand centre for 6 months without having any real contact with anyone. There were 12 Ugandans in total” he narrated. “My wife was seven months pregnant at that time and I kept thinking, what if I never go back to Uganda? Who will help my child? I resolved to help children of prisoners if I ever got out of this prison.”

Jimmy described his time as a prisoner in a foreign country as horrific and inhumane, with poor feeding and little to no medical care.

It was terrible. The food was the worst and sometimes not cooked properly in fact, people used to get sick all the time. One Ugandan died from a stomach infection. We used to eat something called “Chingwa”, that tasted like spoilt bread. Winter was the worst because we were given these thin blankets and no mattress.”

With the tireless help of his wife, jimmy was released from Harare remand centre in 2012 and on getting back to Uganda, the first thing he did was to get a job that would give him the funds to support these children.

A friend introduced me to a gentleman who gave me his car for business. I used to transport people most especially tourists and pay him UGX 300,000 every week. I got a very nice client called Mona, who I found out was the president of Children of prisoners, Sweden. After she left, I sent her an email asking for a meeting and she agreed to meet me. I told her about my vision and she seemed very excited about it. She was happy to meet someone who shared her vision.”

A few months later, Mona asked Jimmy to visit one of the children her organization sponsored, Chrispus, at his school.

When I visited him, he was excited that a stranger could come to see him. I kept visiting him on Visiting Days. He told me about his father who had been serving a long sentence in Luzira. I went to visit him and I asked him to introduce me to other people in the prison who I could talk to. I met people who would directed me to their families now my wife and I go to visit them and take for them some things.”

For four years now, Jimmy has conducted monthly visits to families of prisoners and has taken on the guardianship of Chrispus, who he regards as his first born. He also hosts an annual Christmas party for the children where he invites other children from the neighbourhood to make merry and meet father Christmas.

At one of the children’s Christmas parties Kasule has hosted

Jimmy believes that children, more so whose parents have been imprisoned, need to be loved and cared for so they do not find the need to commit any crimes and end up in prisons as well.

Would you like to support children of prisoners or volunteer on family visits? Please call/text Jimmy on 0774739500 or send him an email at jimmykasule@gmail.com

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Profiles

Turning Rubbish into Money In The Fight Against Unemployment

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BY: MARVIN MUTYABA

Meet Calvin Matovu, a twenty-five-year old graduate from Makerere University who recycles wastes and rubbish into charcoal.

After attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental science in 2013, Calvin searched for a job in vain. His life started becoming difficult as he had no source of income and he found it senseless to finish university and sit at idly at home.

In the struggle to fight unemployment, Calvin harnessed the idea of collecting wastes and rubbish from the community with his friends, to make some money.

“I asked myself, all this waste we collect and KCCA burns, can’t we reproduce a product out of it?’ Basing on my knowledge from campus, I came up with the idea of recycling wastes into charcoal.” Says Calvin at his factory in Erisa zone, Kyebando.

He set his plan in motion by gathering jobless youths in his community to create employment for themselves. Calvin and his team of seven started reusing wastes, especially organic wastes from agricultural products for example peelings from matooke. These are mixed with ash, clay, carbon and water to make a final product.

“At first we did not have market because people were already using charcoal from firewood with no clue about charcoal from wastes.” He says.

The idea of reusing garbage to make charcoal seems so unrealistic until he breaks down the process through which waste can be made useful and environment friendly.

“The raw materials include banana peelings, paper, clay, cow dung, cassava flour basing on your income level for example one can use clay or cow dung or cassava flour. The machines used are: a charring drum, crushing machine and a stick briquette machine. Peelings are collected and dried then sorted and grinded. Then they are burnt and put into the charring drum. The binder, which can be either  cassava porridge, clay or cow dung is added to the wastes mix and the mixture is then poured into the briquette machine. the last step is to dry the briquettes to produce charcoal. This is done in the drying rack.”

Calvin’s workmate sieving the raw material in the workshop

Calvin and his team have faced a number of challenges but this has not stopped them from going further.

“In the beginning, we used our hands to mould the charcoal which was very tiresome and it left our hands spoilt with dead skin in the palms. Our quality also wasn’t that good. The market too was very low but we never gave up.”

“Use what surrounds you” is a common saying that we often do not give attention too, but instead, we keep asking our leaders for help yet what’s surrounds us can be very useful in our daily life.

Basic principles of Physics state that “Effort + Load  = Work done.” Calvin’s hard work and desire to see his brilliant idea boom led him to overcome all the challenges that he and his team met. After months of several dynamics, critics and mental exhaustion, the season ended and he harvested fruits from his tree. Schools and some small companies started making orders for his charcoal. He has since received support from KCCA in form of a a manual machine that ended the hands era.

The briquettes are laid out to dry in the drying rack

Calvin Matovu now he employs twenty young people from his own community in Kyebando. The charcoal briquettes they manufacture cost UGX 1500 and last for over seven hours, which minimizes the daily costs also reducing demand for firewood.

“Anyone can do this anywhere at any time.” He says in conclusion. “Every person should base on talent at least 50% of their daily economic activities.”

The finished products. Briquettes ready to be sold.

This is a guest post by MARVIN MUTYABA, a student at Makerere University Business School, currently pursuing a Business Administration in his second year. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, skills development and fitness. 

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