These last weeks have been filled with various work on various projects. Most of the work seems like a hard build up to a specific goal and then a long tail slug afterwards to get all the odds and ends collected and properly put in place. Thought I'd write about some of the stuff I've been involved in:
The group I work with in Kenya, has finally received the money from the charity tea party and various other donations (bank here sent the funds to Mombasa and not to Nairobi). If all goes well, they will buy 5 drip irrigation kits this week and head up to Kimilili on Friday and hold two best business training workshops this weekend. I am kind of excited because another women's co-op from Kitale is also attending one of the workshops and they will receive one of the drip irrigation kits for their community. It is our hope that once the two communities see what drip irrigation is all about they might find the means to make their own DIY systems.
I've (finally) finished writing a project proposal for our Gardening Vocational Training Program. This is a program targeted towards women's co-ops and our youth project group. We want to set up a garden project where groups work in collaboration learning and implementing "modern" sustainable agriculture techniques. (The reason I say "modern" is that many of these methods, such as polyculture, mulch systems, organic composting, etc. were techniques western countries took away from indigenous farming cultures in developing countries over the last 70 years. It is ironic that we are in the position of trying to reintroduce these techniques back into those countries so many years later.) The project proposal is for approx. 8,000 USD for the purchase of land and materials (e.g. treadle pump and drip irrigation systems). If anyone knows of an organization that might fund such a project please send me a link.
We are in the process of setting up a clean cooking fuel small-scale business co-op between the Makerere University in Uganda and various rural communities. This project is going to take a while to develop because we haven't the proper technology as yet. We are trying to establish a pilot project to make clean burning cooking briquettes out of bio-waste (e.g. maize cobs or sugar cane). These briquettes burn nearly smokeless and set out no toxins and save on the need to burn wood. I'm still at the stage of trying to figure out the technology needed and set up a feasible collaborative business model. The outline of the project currently is to have a) a youth vocational training program that mass produces and sells the corn cob crushers (a wooden box with a coarse roller to crush the charcoal bits), b) a central briquette-making press where people can come with their crushed charcoal and make the cooking briquettes, and c) a series of small-scale businesses to sell the cooking briquettes at markets.
We are trying to set up a NGO so that we can do all the project work mentioned above more formally. This would mean that those individuals who contribute donations or micro-loans would be able to make them tax deductible. It would also mean that we could approach more organisations and foundations for funding.
My son managed to hand in a research paper titled, Web 2.0 Revolution (Consequences for Corporations), last week. This was a volunteer paper he researched and wrote in the hope of improving his final grade when he graduates from high school next June. I volunteered to yield the whip to get him to set up a schedule, work on the paper regularly, and not get preoccupied with all sorts of other activities. This was not an easy task, nor one that I did with any grace or sense of authority. Contrarily, it consisted of a great amount of petty hysterics, long plea bargainings, and mini breakdowns on my part.
Time to go off to the office...