Friday, 1 June 2012

A hurried departure . . .

Unfortunately Ian became ill on 15 March and was quickly evacuated by VSO to The Nairobi Hospital in Kenya. Ian received excellent care in Nairobi and is grateful to the warmth and humour of the team who looked after him for nearly four weeks. Here they are pictured below.
Renate flew out from Sheffield to be with Ian while he was in Hospital. Then VSO decided that it would be best to fly Ian home to Sheffield directly from Nairobi in mid April. Ian is now making a full recovery and is really enjoying the company of his new grandson - Adefela - the first child of daughter Laura and her Partner Shola.
The speed of Ian's departure from Nairobi, going direct to Sheffield, meant that he didn't get back to Kampala to say thanks and goodbye to the many close colleagues and friends encountered during the two years that Ian spent in Uganda. Geoffrey Mujisha, Ian's boss at the MARPs Network, made the trip to Nairobi to see Ian in Hospital and this was greatly appreciated and Ian was also greatly cheered by the continuous stream of messages and support from fellow VSO volunteers and work colleagues at the MARPs Network. Thank you very much! It is Ian's hope when he gets clearance from his consultant to take a holiday in Uganda later in the year so that goodbyes can be properly exchanged!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

First meeting of the Kampala Technical Working Group - last piece in the MARPs Network's jigsaw . . for the time being!

On 14 March the first meeting of the Kampala Technical Working Group was held in the garden at the MARPs Network's offices in Kamwokya, Kampala. Participants worked hard all day to discuss and agree the program of work for the coming year. This last meeting in the round of TWG meetings held in February and March brought to a close Ian's involvement with the MARPs Network since March 2010. From January Natukunda has been working as the Network Development Worker with Ian's support. From now on Natukunda will be leading this important area of work but without Ian's immediate presence as her mentor and coach. Although hopefully the use of the 'phone and email between Kamwokya and Sheffield will ensure an enduring link.
Above and below: - discussion focusing on the priority groups that the Kampala Technical Working Group should work with in the coming year
Listening intently to the summing up of the day's proceedings
Natukunda thanks participants for their attendance and for their hard work!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

6 week picture update

3.00 pm Sunday 8 January - Ian has just arrived in Entebbe - collected by Geoffrey Mujisha and Natukunda Shalince, colleagues from the MARPs Network and before tucking into some Lake Victoria fish and chips a quick text to Renate to inform of safe arrival!
9 January - Joshua and Joy, our caretaker's children excited at opening pressies from Sheffield!
Our Donor - the Danish Government's Christmas present to the MARPs Network was to call for an end of year audit of finance and programme management. Here's Geoffrey reading the audit report to the team meeting on 30 January, the report gives the Network high marks - well done to the many colleagues who gave up some of their Christmas break to prepare for the audit!
This is a garage space at the Network's offices, there are hopes that it can be turned into a resource room to be used by members of the Network in Kampala. A likely project for fundraising when Ian returns to Sheffield in April
13 February - Natukunda giving her first presentation as Network Development Worker at the first meeting of Network members in western Uganda - she did brilliantly!
A participant at the western Uganda members' meeting held in Mbarara on 13 February.
14 February - it's Valentine's Day and this Wart Hog is thinking about someone to love - Ian passed on the offer!
14 February - on the way back from Mbarara the road to Kampala passes Lake Mburo National Park so the team (Natukunda, John (our driver) and Ian decided to take a look. These Zebras are breathtaking and there are loads of them in the park.
A magnificently proud male Water Buck doesn't seem to fazed by our presence
A stunningly beautiful Impala with a coat that seems so soft and flawless
This is a very large buck known as a "Topi" - again a beautiful shiny coat.
John, our driver, and Natukunda negotiating to buy "Matoke" - green bananas that are steamed and mashed - a very popular food to go with a meat sauce.
Seemingly the negotiations are going badly as the Matoke seller moves away. But this story did have a happy ending and two 'branches' of Matoke were purchased and taken to Kampala.
John and Natukunda at the Equator on our way back from Mbarara
Participants at the regional members meeting held on 20 February in Lira, northern Uganda - applaud as a certificate of membership is presented.
Discussion on priorities for the action plan for the next 12 months

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Happy New Year and some changes

Apologies for the long gap between this post and the last one in November. Things have been hectic. Renate and Ian went back to Sheffield for Christmas and celebrated with Laura and Shola and with Holly and Matt. It was good to experience a Christmas in the 'cold' after a gap of two years.
Ian has returned to Kampala and will stay until just before Easter continuing to work with the MARPs Network. As this is only a 12 week assignment, Renate is staying back in Sheffield and it has to be said that the main reason is the scheduled arrival of a grandchild in late April, so there's much to prepare for.
Ian and Renate celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on Monday - apart!
Ian will try and make as many posts as possible in the next few weeks, so watch this space!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A holiday with two Petes who Ian met at Goldsmiths' College 40 years ago

Pete Sacker and Pete Wilde and Ian met in September 1971 when they enrolled on the Community Work Certificate course at Goldsmiths' College in New Cross, south east London. Pete Sacker and Ian moved to Sunderland when they graduated in 1973. In 1979 Pete Sacker moved to Sheffield, where Pete Wilde was also working at the time. In 1983 Ian moved to Sheffield after encouragement from Pete that he was no longer part of the solution in Sunderland - instead becoming part of the problem!
It's great to have remained in contact for 40 years and the decision by the 2 Petes to come and spend two weeks with Renate and Ian was warmly welcomed. The pictures below summarise a very enjoyable two weeks together.
Renate and the 2 Petes embarking on the boat trip to the Source of the Nile
The three wise men ruminating - still putting the world to right after 40 years!
A visit to Kilombera weaving factory near Jinja is great for pictures! Also a good place for buying presents to take home.
Pete Wilde showing the results of his photo skills to the guys who had just been his models
Morning mist and cloud on the floor of the rift valley - a sight to behold.
Our cottage with the view of the rift valley and the distant mountains of the Congo.
In our cottage there was an extra bed. If we wanted to sleep under the stars all we had to do was wheel this second bed out onto the verandah - unfortunately it was cold and damp, so we didn't.
A common sight - Pete Sacker with his binoculars and Pete Wilde with his camera - focusing on the feast of birds that Uganda has to offer.
In this part of western Uganda there are many 'crater lakes' - not quite sure how they were formed but they are stunning to see and the surrounding countryside is amazingly lush.
The wonderful backdrop of Kibale Forest where we stayed for two days - the two Petes sharing a tree house!

Completing the Regional framework for the Network

The past month has been very busy. Following the setting up of the regional technical working group in Kasese in the middle of October, three more regional groups have been established. The second was in Lira, covering four districts of Northern Uganda - see below:After Lira, we moved to Eastern Uganda, right next to the Kenyan border at Tororo. Shown below are the participants who attended the Tororo launch meeting.

The four districts covered by the Eastern region technical working group.
Finally, last Thursday, we launched the Central regional technical working groups which covers the five Divisions of the Kampala Capital City Authority. We had collective anxiety on Thursday morning as it was pouring with rain - and had been all night - so we wondered whether anyone would turn up. At start time - 9.30 am - 10 had arrived, out of nearly 40 invited. However by 11.30 am we had a full house and a very successful launch.
To sum up, the four launch meetings were attended by 101 community-based organisations and 17 District / Divisional local government organisations. We are all very pleased with this outcome, it is confirmation that the Network is wanted and is timely. The next job, which we are working on this coming week is appointing locally-based organisations to work on our behalf to support these regional groups. Hopefully that will all be completed by Christmas and everyone in the team at the MARPs Network can enjoy a well earned two week's rest!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Return to Kasese in Western Uganda

Last year, just after Easter, Ian travelled with Taremwa Sam who was at that time Finance Officer with the Network, to Western Uganda to meet with small community based organisations working with most at-risk populations (MARPs). This was to gather data for the public dialogue project. It was good to go back, especially as this time the Network has the resources to offer practical support through the setting up of a regional support group - with the somewhat awkward name of "technical working group" (TWG). It was great to meet several amazing people once again at a 24 hour workshop held to launch the TWG. The diagram below shows the engagement structure of the MARPs Network (click on the diagram to see an enlarged version). Community-based organisations (the focus for the Network's membership) are grouped into one of four TWGs - one for each of the four regions of Uganda. Each TWG will be facilitated by a regional service organisation (RSO) - an organisation commissioned by the MARPs Network to carry out the task on its behalf. Rather than become a large bureaucracy, the MARPs Network decided to appoint other existing organisations, who already enjoy trust in the region, to work on our behalf. The MARPs Network will be appointing the RSOs next month. The Network enjoys support and advice nationally from a valued group of organisations / partners which include United Nations organisations, Government Departments and national and international non-governmental organisations. These partners will form the National Technical Working Group which will offer advice and guidance to the MARPs Secretariat and also to the four regional RSOs and TWGs.
This year the MARPs Network is working with four priority Districts in each region (Next year another four Districts will be added in each Region). The map below shows the four Districts that are initially forming the membership of the Western Region TWG.
The MARPs Network worked with District Officials to identify the participants invited to launch the TWG. Each District sent three officials along with representatives from four community-based organisations (CBOs) working with most at-risk populations. Finally the civil society forum in each District was invited to send a representative. 29 participants, out of a possible 32, attended the launch workshop which was held in Kasese, perhaps the lowest Town in Uganda - close to the floor of the Western (Albertine) Rift Valley.
Here's Geoffrey Mujisha, the Executive Director of the MARPs Network welcoming participants and explaining the objectives for the workshop.
And getting good quality listen from participants!. The workshop was held in a thatched 'barn' with gauze spaces at the top and bottom of the side walls - above and below wooden panels. The result was a wonderfully cool and gently lit meeting space - very unusual in its design.
Despite the comfort of the 'thatched barn' participants still opted to take the chance to discuss issues in the gardens next to the 'barn'. Here are participants from Bushenyi discussing who they believe are the most at-risk populations in their area, in terms of exposure to catching HIV / AIDS.
Sagal, the Finance Officer from the MARPs Network, on the left, helping to facilitate a discussion with participants from Kabarole District.
Having heard how the TWG is going to function and how the RSO will support the TWG participants were invited to register as members. This required completing a questionnaire detailing information about their organisation and which most at-risk populations they target in their work.
Having completed the registration questionnaire, participants signed the membership contract which was counter-signed by Geoffrey Mujisha. By the way everyone signed up!
And at the end of the proceedings . . the group photograph! A thoroughly enjoyable three days in Kasese. Next week it's the Northern Region's turn . . in Lira.


Ian will be working as a volunteer with VSO and he's set a fund raising target of £1,000 to be reached before setting off. Money raised will go to support VSO's most pressing needs - it won't be used to fund Ian's placement.