After a couple of weeks back in the office I am still thinking of Haiti. We have put much in motion following my visit, and yet there is still much to do. There were bad storms there on Friday and the heavy winds and rain caused much damage. Our Country Representative Madsen Gachette advised me that there were several deaths and many tents were destroyed – even large ones. Even our own staff Gerard lost his tent to the winds and rain. Thank goodness he had neighbors with a house he and his wife and three boys can stay in for the moment. We are working on ideas to support him, as well as ways to bring additional support to our projects in Haiti.
There is also much to do across all of our countries with the many children and communities we are working with. And much to do in terms of prepping for my first ever Canadian Feed The Children Board Meeting – complete with new Board Members. Following the Board Meeting we will embark on our Annual Planning process with our field partners for 2011. This is the part I love best – helping our communities bring their ideas to life for the long term as we help them move towards sustainability and independence.
Over the last couple of weeks our Special Gifts Manager, Kristin Philpot, and our Country Representative, Christina Sempebwa have been hosting a group of Canadian Feed The Children donors on a Donor Tour in Uganda. This is a great way for our donors to learn more about our partners and programs and best of all, the children and families we support. The group arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, on September 20th to explore the programs they support. For most of them, it is their first visit to Africa. The way it works is that donors pay their own way and we arrange for them to get an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the communities we are supporting as well as the culture, the people and the country that is called the “Pearl of Africa”.
I had the pleasure of meeting Christina when she was in Toronto this past summer and I know she will be proudly introducing all aspects of her country and our programs to the group. After a day of rest from the long flight from Canada, the group visited our community partner Huyslink in Entebbe on Sept 21. They were introduced to the work they do by Moses, the group’s Executive Director. It’s a small organization, with just seven full-time staff, but their impact is huge. Our own project in partnership with them has far-reaching benefits in education, vocational training, food security, malaria prevention and early child development. The group visited a number of project sites within the area and Kristin tells me that all of our donors were quite emotional by the end of the day because of the work they saw underway, as well as highly impressed with the scope of programs in the area.
Later that night, they travelled to the country’s capital of Kampala, where they rested up for the next day’s four-hour car trip to Bugiri. In this rural village they will visit our partner UCOBAC and witness the outstanding work we do together in providing Home-Based Care to families affected by HIV/AIDS. With UCOBAC, we also construct latrines, plant gardens, supply sheep and goats, provide income-generating activities and facilitate community dialogues on child rights, stigma and other issues related to HIV/AIDS.
I am sure Kristin will have more to share when she is back in the range of technology. And I look forward to meeting with our donors on their return to hear their impressions and ideas. Awareness is always a first step to understanding how each of us can make a difference. More to follow!