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“Our target is those children that society forgets” – Meet Uganda’s Beautiful Heart Esther Kalenzi

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Es Martha Kay

Esther Kalenzi: Photo used with permission

She is beautiful inside and out. Her Charisma is one to reckon, how she manages to get awesome young people to follow her cause is still a mystery to many. Meet  Esther Kalenzi the brain behind 40days over 40 smiles

Who is Esther Kalenzi?

Well, what you see is pretty much what you get with me. I am a believer who chases her dreams at all costs. I did a degree in Mass Communications at Uganda Christian University (UCU). I have done work in PR, Marketing and business development in the past. My hobbies include dancing, sipping tea at any time of the day and listening/telling stories. I am always happy to listen to people’s stories whether i am close to them or will never see them again. There is always something to learn or simply laugh/cry about.

What is and why 40 days Over 40 smiles?

It is a youth led charity organisation that supports orphans and vulnerable children. It started with a Facebook group I opened on February 27, 2012 with the aim of giving back to the less fortunate in society. The plan was to use the 40 days of lent to collect food stuffs, toys, clothes, beddings, books and other material that I would then give back to children and hopefully create more than 40 smiles. In 2013,we got registered. The name is a bit of a mouthful but it has a story so we decided to keep it.
What is this kind of charity that you and your awesome people do?
Hahaha, my awesome people are indeed awesome. The simplest way I can put it is that we make children smile. Our target is those children that society often forgets, whom life has dealt some pretty hard blows. If a playground will make them happy, we shall put up one. If they need a roof over their heads for those cold nights, that is where we come in. There are several issues affecting children in Uganda and more-so those ones who come from poor backgrounds or have no parent. We come in to ensure they have a childhood that is memorable despite their conditions.
At your age, most young people are concerned with personal happiness and dreaming about having big houses. Where did all this begin from?
I would also love a big house , maybe two? There are a few things I am passionate about that came together to create this lovely blend that is now 40-40 People- I connect with people and try to keep in touch to the best of my ability. I have friends and acquaintances whom I never knew would one day be part of this big dream Children- I have always loved children. They literally light up my days. Knowing that one or even several of them are suffering means that someone has to do something. I can be that someone, so can you Positive change: Our tagline “Be the change you want to see” was borrowed from Mahatma Ghandi. From the time I read it as a teen, it became my silent mantra. I am convinced that each of us has a purpose in this world. We may recognise it at 18 or 61. I am lucky that I saw mine by the age of 24. It was the conviction within myself to do more using available resources that gave birth to this dream, along with those factors I just mentioned that sort of fell in place.
Wow that is lovely. Are your parents happy and supportive now that you’re not a journalist but into charity?
They are. I was never really a rebellious child, neither was I a saint, but I always tried to listen to them. I actually failed to get work as a journalist after I graduated. I always thought I would be a features’ writer, bringing stories of change to the public or at least writing and producing a successful show. When I realised this was not happening, I looked for ‘any job’ that I could do. I worked for a business development firm when the 4040 idea came to mind. I made good friends while there and had an intelligent boss who challenged us on a daily. When I decided to quit, I did not tell my parents because I knew they would talk me out of it. Today, they are the ones who call me when an article about us has been featured in a newspaper or if we are on television. I think they have embraced it and I will keep doing my best to make them proud.
What are your biggest accomplishments ever since you started 40 Days over 40 Smiles?
Uhm, that we are still here three years later?! To tell you the truth, we have done some things I never thought we could pull off and have received recognition from some really credible authorities but I am most amazed that this little dream is still here amidst everything. In terms of ‘tangible’ outcomes, the dormitory we built in Luweero stands out and I think will do for a very long time to come. It isn’t that it is grand but the story behind it represents a true reflection of hope, faith, love and dreams coming true We were presented with a budget of 28 million Uganda Shillings for the dormitory and it was pretty much a ‘laugh out loud’ situation. “Are these people crazy, we can’t pull this off,” we said. We agreed to TRY and raise half with so much doubt. Along the way, something happened that I can only describe as a miracle. The support from our networks and strangers alike was overwhelming and this momentum pushed my team to do more. Our first fundraiser was okay, the second one better and then the #BuyABrick campaign just shoot through the roof. We raised 8 million Ugx in 10 days with just a hashtag. At this point, we were unstoppable. We would do whatever it took to get the balance. As I speak, a dormitory with capacity to house 210 children proudly stands at Happy Times Junior School Luweero and I tell you, it is the most beautiful thing you will ever see (heavily biased opinion)
We know this kind of charity deals with kids who are going through hell. Any story of these little kids that has touched you?
I would like to point out that most of the children we work with are happier than the average Ugandan youth. If they are not, at least we ensure they have what it takes to get them there. See, they don’t need much to be satisfied, a quality many of us can learn. Let me tell you about my special friend Ronald whom I met in 2012. He was an extremely shy boy with whom I had a special bond. He would see me coming and run excitedly then say nothing. I had to earn his trust. Before long, I found out he lived on the streets and each time he felt like, he left this particular orphanage to go back to the life he ‘knew.’ The caretaker said he was a ‘gone case.’ I asked him to promise me he would always be there when I came and he did. Last year he ran away (again) and although we lost touch, I thought about him and many of the other children and prayed for them. A month or so ago, I received a phone call. It was Ronald! He told me he had gone back to the street and been picked by a lady who had also visited him at the home around the same time as us. We talked about his new school and ‘new’ family and I was stiffling sobs the whole time.
Did it affect you personally? As in deep in your heart?
I generally like to do my best to give 100% and it can be a blessing and a curse. I grew attached to Ronald and so many of the children we worked with. He wrote me a letter thanking me for keeping him off the street 3 years ago and I still have it to date. I think I have an inexplicable attraction to seemingly lost causes and as such, I felt like it was my responsibility to help him believe in himself and realise that he has as great a chance as any other child to be whatever he chooses. I would love to see him and all the children we have worked with as adults, running businesses, singing, treating patients, raising their families- what a heartwarming sight that will be!
Do you still follow up these activities after a successful campaign?
We certainly do. I will give a few examples; We visited Luweero two months ago even if the dormitory was completed a while back. Other partners came in and bought beds for the children. A borehole has been constructed at the school yet the kids used to walk long distances to fetch water. The children who sat for PLE last year did well too. We are in touch on phone and visit when we can. We worked with Akiba last year and completed our project but are still in touch. The caretaker was at 5 aside last weekend and has invited us for their 5 year celebrations. It is only right that we stay in touch and continue to support each other in whichever way possible.
Well, it seems you are here to stay! Where do you see 40 Days over 40 smiles six years from now?
This question is one of the most difficult for me to answer because if you had asked me 6 years ago where I would be today, I would probably have given an extremely inaccurate response. I will tell you a few of the things we hope to accomplish though. We would love to work on issues from the grassroots i.e find out why mothers throw their children in the first place, what can be done to change this? These caretakers of orphanages who have given their life to children whom they are not related to, how can we empower them? We shall have an advocacy arm and sit with policy makers (better still have some of our members as policy makers) so that we can safeguard the future of Uganda’s children. I see us inspiring young people within Uganda and beyond to take their future into their own hands. Being ‘young’ can no longer be an excuse to act stupid or waste ones’ life but rather create an avenue to start laying foundations early and create a legacy that generations to come will emulate.
Charity takes great courage and commitment. What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
This type of work can be emotionally draining in ways I can’t even explain. It gets insane from time to time but nothing worth having is ever easy. I am mostly amused by the people who tell me stories about 4040’s process that even I don’t know about. Each time we appear n the media, some people imagine we paid for it. They are not ashamed to make this allegations without even asking. If this was true, then we shouldn’t have wasted those millions in airtime and space. We would have built at least 10 dormitories by now. One even told me congratulations upon the line of hostels I had built. In my mind I was thinking, how about I first buy a bicycle? People actually believe these ridiculous stories because they are looking for a label, something, anything to explain why we do what we do. Others want to know what it takes to start an NGO because 4040 seems to be minting a lot of money. It is this kind of myopic thinking that keeps us underdeveloped and then we still look for someone to blame. It used to hurt but now it is mostly hilarious. The real challenges come in different forms,whether it is an angry volunteer, a sick child, an arrogant caretaker or a stubborn service provider. Sometimes all these forces are spewing negative energy at the same time and you fill like a minor heart attack isn’t entirely out of the question. Having several volunteers who must attend to their 8-5 jobs makes it difficult to achieve some goals in a timely manner. Schedule clashes occur often and the partners may not always understand this. Additionally, some organisations undermine 4040 simply because they are better established and that can be quite disheartening when you know your worth. Others have failed to master the art of saying no so instead they make promises that they will never keep. You make plans revolving around these pledges and end up realising they were a myth a bit too late. Nonetheless, each challenge comes with a lesson and I am positive the future is bright so sometimes you just say ‘C’est la vie’ and keep on keeping on.
Any worst moments or regrets?
I have lost some friends along this journey and I am bound to lose more. It is those moments that remind you what growing up is about, it won’t always be a walk in the park. I do believe that people are indeed in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. This realisation gives me comfort, knowing that 4040 is bigger than me or my relationships. At the end of the day, I am positive the God who started this good work will carry it on to completion,
Are you planning to do charity for the rest of your life or time will come and say “Yeah i have played my part”?
I am at my best when I am doing what I do. This is my purpose and that isn’t something one gets tired of and says ‘Hey, please hand me another one, in purple please..’ Even when I hand over the mantle of team leader to someone else, I know I will be involved in charity work for as long as my strength allows.
Lets talk about the activities you do. From social media campaigns to fun activities(which are awesome by the way), what made you adopt this strategy?
Thank you. We have surely been blessed. Since I started by adding my friends to the facebook group, somehow, communication just continued on facebook. All it took was a few minutes and the message had reached hundreds of people (and the numbers continued to grow) We then extended to twitter and tried to use all the popular social media platforms. This mode of communication is affordable and has the power to reach may people at once. Our target group was the youth who spend a lot of time on social media. For the activities, we still thought of those that would engage young people. We settled on music and poetry plus sports. These fundraising events have been growing. Our first soccer match was between two teams and had 30 or so people, raising about 400,000. Last weekend we had over 1,000 people and we raised about 6 million Ugx. We have dedicated time, precision and a whole lot of hard work into this but it would all mean nothing without our supporters. They have pushed us to do more and given us reason to keep trying even the going gets tough. Would we really be holding these fundraisers if no one shared our posts or showed up? I think not.

Have you received any rewards or accolades ever since you begun?
We have and I must say almost all of them came unexpectedly. Let me try to put them in order – Vocational Service award, rotaract, Kampala city -Best Campaign, Social media awards (2013) -Heroine of the year award, Young Achievers -Best pitch -Tumaini award, first place, health category -Vocational service, Kyambogo rotaract club -Fearless award, Mavuno Kampala -Social Justice award (2015) -Our first internantional recognition came recently; Finalist, commonwealth Youth Development awards (There were 2 Ugandans chosen out of the 4 Africans, that is/was such an honour!) Eh, I feel like I have made up some but yes, that is the recognition 4040 has got and we take none of it for granted.
Am sure this started as a passion for social justice. But now that you’re getting recognition, does it still remain driven by passion?
Haha, what?? Of course! The awards and recognition are nice but take them all away and 40-40 will still be here for many years to come. I actually hate the attention that it comes with although I have to remind myself that it comes with the territory. The lives that are changing and encouraging people to do more for their society, that is what really matters at the end of the day.
Behind your inspirational leadership and the name of your foundation, there are other people who help you be who you are. Do you mind mentioning at least ten of them?
I may not mention them all but I have an amazing team that holds the fort and ensures that work is done. They have sacrificed a lot for 40-40. Some of them have been there from the very start, others joined recently and I can’t even remember a time when they were not there. They all have different backgrounds and personalities but they bleed 40-40 and are the reason we are where we are today. Is this where I send greetings? 🙂
Then outside 40-40, which partners have been helpful to you in your charity campaigns?
We have had several partners but I think I will mention the ones whom we have worked with on more than one project although we appreciate all of them. Cipher 256, D and J audio, Fit Clique Africa, Xfm, Sms media, The baby store Ug.
Let’s talk about personal inspiration. Which people inspire you in everything you do?
I am inspired by my mother. I am not quite sure how her big heart fits in her body. I do not know how she manages to take care of everyone, including people she does not really know. I am in awe of her strength, her faith and power to forgive. She inspires me to become a better version of myself. Did I add she is my biggest fan? Yes. It is mostly embarrassing, in a good way.
If you had a chance to meet Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), what would you tell him?
Hahaha. You have also noticed I stalk him? The man came to Uganda and we didn’t meet? How shall I explain this to my children? Jokes aside… I even sent him an email, although he probably gets millions of those. I think I would do more listening than talking. I admire him, his courage and patience and can relate to his work to a small extent. Like us, he runs a facebook page that has allowed him to meet millions of people and change lives. All he wanted to do was take portraits of New Yorkers and he ended up travelling the world with the UN sharing some of the best, most heart-wrenching photographs I have ever seen. Of course the stories people share need special recognition. He is such a beautiful human being, doing a great job and I would let him know that countless times.
If you also had a chance to meet policy makers in the Ugandan government for example the president or parliament, what would you tell them?
I am pretty sure this space is not enough for the things I want to say. Several things in this country need an overhaul, including but not limited to our education and health sector. Many of these problems are ‘man made’ and therefore, it is in our power to turn them around. We need to do more for our children, quality education over quantity, incentives for teachers who essentially spend the most time with our children ,involvement of parents and the community in children’s education and well being, the list goes on. “The True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” – Ghandi My focus would be on children (especially vulnerable ones) and the potential of youth. Bottom line is we can do more, they can do more, they should do more and so should we. When the policy makers slack, we should hold them accountable to the best of our ability and by this I mean, we should go beyond passive activism.
At the end of the day, they say judge a person by the works of his or her hands. How do you want to be remembered?
When you have a relationship with someone whether as a sibling, spouse, parent or friend, your actions will always speak louder than your words. It does not matter how often you tell them you love them if you can’t go out of your way to show it. I try to let my values speak for themselves. I would love for my life to be its own testimony. If a few people can be inspired or if I can change a life or two along the way, that will be enough for me.
This Is Uganda wants to tell the world that Uganda is not about Idi Amin or Kony but about beautiful people like you making a difference. Imagine if a white is reading this interview and they are touched, where can they contribute to your cause?
Hehe, but really, why white….? Anyone and everyone is welcome to be part of this movement. 🙂 our website is 40daysover40smiles.org Facebook Like 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation and follow us on Twitter @40days_40smiles They can find more information there.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be like you?
Haha, no one should want to be like me. They should aspire to be themselves 🙂 I am convinced that when you want something bad enough, for the ‘right’ reasons, the universe will conspire to help you get it. Most of my success has been a result of trial and error so as long as one is willing to fail several times, eventually they will succeed.
Any remarks you want you make to appeal to the people?
You know that thing that keeps you up at night, the dream you are trying to stifle because you are not sure it will work? Start it now. The worst thing that can happen is it not working out but how will you know it won’t work if you can’t even try?
Lastly, do you mind sharing with us pictures telling your success story to our readers?
Here are some of them*

A collage of 40-40: Photo used with permission

4040 pic

A member of 40-40 playing with kids: Photo used with permission

Dancing at one of the breakfasts with kids: Photo used with permission


Okay let’s leave her stunning beauty aside. Here, Esther was literally building a dorm: Photo used with permission

sma 2013 team

Team 40-40 at the Social Media Awards 2013: Photo used with permission

sma 2015

Team 40-40 at the Social Media Awards 2015: Photo used with permission

Esther With kids at Akiba, home for children with cancer: Photo used with permission

YAA award with team

Team 40-40 at the Young Achievers Awards: Photo used with permission

5 aside soccer

Action at #5AsideUG this year: Photo used with permission

5 aside winners uncle ruckus: Photo used with permission

5 aside es

Her smile explains it all: Photo used with permission

*Please kindly note that Miss Esther Kalenzi together with 40-40’s photos, are copyrighted and therefore should not be downloaded from this blog and used without her permission. Plagiarism or using someone’s idea without his or her consent is illegal under Section 4 of The Copyright and Neighbouring Act 2006 of Uganda.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. jemijo

    March 16, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Reblogged this on Jemima ♥ and commented:
    Definitely had to reblog this! Super proud of this missy! ?

  2. karungiptrc

    March 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Reblogged this on karungiptrc and commented:
    \o/

  3. Amanya

    March 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Musings and commented:
    Inspirational. The next great leader isn’t always so far, just recognise them and support them.

  4. Herman Clive Quotes.

    June 20, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Reblogged this on Herman Clive Quotes and commented:
    Inspirational.

  5. Herman Clive Quotes.

    June 20, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Inspirational.

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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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