We all know what it's like - sometimes doing the "right" thing for yourself and your body is all about convenience. If the gym is far away, how likely are you to get there? If that good book you've been meaning to read is out of reach, you might just settle for reality TV instead. That's the concept behind "tip top" jerrycans. It's not that they deliver better or cleaner water than regular jerrycans, it's just that they're more fun. And easier to use. So, more people use them. In Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, getting clean water is a challenge for most people, and even more so for one community we've been working with the past few days. So, we thought, couldn't we make the water they do get just a little more convenient to use? Tip top jerrycans flip, pouring water to use for hand washing and drinking. They're really popular with kids, who sometimes need extra encouragement to wash their hands. Our colleague Andrew has seen them in use throughout many of the places we … [Read more...] about Easy Does It
When you think of refugee camps, you might not think about the loss of things like trees, plants, and shade. But when a town pops up virtually overnight, that tends to be the case. This loss of biodiversity impacts everybody, and refugees not least. The new landscape can feel barren and uninspiring. Tree growth starts from scratch. Our team in Kyangwali sat down with one community in the settlement to talk about the problem. And they came up with an idea that - fingers crossed - will really bloom into something exciting. Mango trees play many different roles - they bear fruit of course, leading to increased nutrition for children. They provide shade, protecting against the hot Ugandan son. Their fruit can be sold at the market, giving supplemental income to families. And, they simply look beautiful. We purchased 360 mango seedlings, enough to kickstart a community garden. Everybody was excited about this improvement - including our team! "This idea really supports … [Read more...] about How Does Your Garden Grow?
Soap. That deceivingly simple substance that most of us use in one form or another multiple times a day. That we rely on to stop the spread of sickness and disease. That we mainly take for granted. A bar of soap is a small thing. But for someone going without, its absence looms large. We've spent the last two days with a newly arrived Congolese community in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. With the help of our teammates in Kyangwali, we're helping get them more regular access to resources. But in the meantime, there are small things we can do to get them where they need to be. After spending time with families in the community, it became clear that one thing was sorely needed...you guessed it, soap! There are 720 families in this community. So we got 720 packages of soap. "These small improvements, they mean a lot," said Igor, one of our water and sanitation experts working on the problem. "When we're out here talking to people, a lot of the time we feel like we … [Read more...] about Soap in Hand
"This community has been sidelined and forgotten," says Igor, our resident expert in all things water and sanitation. "They are one of the most in need. What inspires me is to do the doable for them, to do what we can, today." This is our second day working in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, in a community that, as Igor said, has largely been left behind. They live in a remote part of the settlement, along steep and bumpy roads. Sometimes services just don't quite get there. One of the lacking services? Sanitation that works. "Normally the organizations running the settlement ask people to dig their own latrines," said Igor. "They give people the materials to build them on their own. But in this case, it's not coming." This community could build their own latrines with local materials, but just one problem - they don't have any tools. When they fled from Congo, it's not as if they came with shovels, wheelbarrows, or construction equipment. This was something we could … [Read more...] about In Their Hands
Igor is our water, sanitation, and hygiene specialist for all of ARC. He traveled to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement with a team ARC colleagues to answer one question - how might we help more everyday people in the settlement access and use clean, safe water? There's a quiet emergency happening in Kyangwali, with over 60,000 new refugees from Congo who have arrived in the past few months. Resources there are stretched. Igor and the team have long term plans to find a solution, and help these new arrivals get the services they deserve. But, in the meantime, they also have some doable ideas in mind...some quick, low-cost solutions that will have a big impact on families right away. Their first idea? Water filters. Igor and the team concentrated their efforts on one particular community in Kyangwali that was pretty remote - about an hour's drive from the entrance of the camp. "Sometimes they don't have any other option but to get water from the stream, which can lead to … [Read more...] about Welcome to Kyangwali
The kids in the deaf unit at Kajaho Primary School live in the nearby dorms most of the year. These dorms needed a little love. So we've set out to transform their space, one step at a time. First, we added a fresh coat of paint. Then, a way to make water collection a little easier. And now? Light. Imagine the darkness of night in a place like Oruchinga Refugee Settlement, where the students live. The electricity is unreliable, the closest big town is miles away. So when it gets dark, it's really dark. Now imagine that in the pitch black, you can't hear anything either. That can be a pretty terrifying prospect, and one that the kids at the deaf unit face every night. So we thought up a doable solution...solar-powered lights in the dormitories and teacher's quarters. "Light is the life of the deaf," said Lydia, one of their teachers. And she's so right. Now, these kids can read at night, play together, and simply feel a little safer before they go to sleep. … [Read more...] about Night Lights
We are on a mission to help transform the deaf unit at Kajaho Primary School. These kids are far away from home, living with their peers, giving their all towards staying in school and getting a top notch education. Their teacher Dorothy believes in their potential. And we do too. Yesterday we transformed their dormitory space from a drab, dusty room to one filled with brightness and color. Today, we're helping with a challenge they face every day - how to collect water. The kids of the deaf unit were used to gathering all their water during their recess time at school - they didn't have a water pump near their classroom or dormitory. This task was taking up all their playtime, plus they had to be very careful with how much they used at home. Our team had an idea - why not build a water drainage and collection system at their dormitory? That way they could save their playtime for what is was meant for - playing. We built a rainater collection system right at the … [Read more...] about When it Rains
In Oruchinga Refugee Settlement in Uganda, there are a group of students that we've really fallen in love with. Their energy is contagious, smiles vibrant, and resiliency sky high. The kids of the deaf unit at Kajaho Primary School face enormous challenges. Since they can't hear, this puts them at a severe disadvantage to the rest of their peers, who already deal with obstacles to staying in school. But for these kids, there simply aren't a lot of resources to get them the special support they need. Despite all that, their commitment to school is unwavering. The bonds between them strong. But their dormitory? It didn't match their brilliance. The kids of the deaf unit stay in dorms, as most of their families live too far away to commute every day. But the building was a little worse for wear. Our first step? Make it simply more beautiful. We added color - and patterns - to the walls of their dorm. We made it look fresh and new, a little bit of joy to come home to … [Read more...] about Seeing in Color
Our greenhouse project in Nakivale Refugee Settlement has really taken root. It began a few years ago as a passion project for one of our teammates, Wilson, and has now more than doubled in size, providing fruits, vegetables, and invaluable skills to vulnerable women. Now, there's a new head agronomist in town - Iyan. And he has dreams to take the greenhouses to the next level. We wanted to help him get there. And what better way than by helping to lay the foundations for a greater bounty to grow? We purchased seeds for all six greenhouses! Soon tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, and mango will be sprouting up, ready to be harvested. The greenhouse project helps women who are facing particularly difficult circumstances at home find their footing again. With newly learned gardening skills, added nutritional value from the fruits and vegetables grown, and products to sell at the market, these women have a chance at a brighter future. Iyan tells us that because of the … [Read more...] about Taking Root
Yesterday, we spent some time with Mama Salome and her Asili Generation. Mama Salome's mission is to teach kids how to wash their hands, which requires some soap. But the most fun part of her lesson isn't the soap itself - it's the songs that go with it. Everyday, Mama Salome travels to a different community, teaching kids the importance of drinking clean water, washing their hands, and keeping clean. She uses songs to teach them the basics. And, she gives them a pamphlet to take home, which reminds them of the songs - and lessons - they learned. But since Salome travels to so many schools, and meets so many kids, she always running out of pamphlets. We wanted to do something to help. We printed a TON of new pamphlets for Mama Salome, enough to last her several months, seeing dozens of kids each day. This is special work for Mama Salome. But it's also special for the kids she serves. "The children get so excited about the pamphlets," said Mama Josee, Salome's … [Read more...] about Join Us in Song!