December 2020

All posts from December 2020

Pascal and Cleophas – Our Fontes Field Officers Continue to Impress

by Fontes Foundation on 21/12/2020 No comments

When we started with the water projects in 2004, Pascal (see title picture, together with his family) was only a little 12 year old boy. He grew up as an orphan, having lost his parents when he was very young. He was a social outcast since because of his extreme shyness people thought that he could not speak. However, the development this boy has gone through since then is truly astounding. When we started installing the first water equipment, Pascal was always there, being interested in how things work and helping out by doing errands for us. Also, Pascal quickly proved to be technically adept. We realized that Pascal was very gifted and had an unmatched eagerness to learn. As the Fontes scholarship program came about, Pascal became our first supported student. After having completed secondary school in 2009, he started volunteering as a community liaison officer at a lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park where all the villages with Fontes water projects are situated. Proving himself on the job, he got promoted to the position of supervisor. Around the same time, Pascal began to realize that the people that grow coffee locally are losing out on a lot of money. He observed that they sell all the coffee they produce and still buy industrial coffee for their own consumption instead of using their home-grown coffee. They did this because they thought that that way, they can make more money, but actually the opposite is true. So, Pascal taught the community to start using their own coffee for their own consumption instead of selling everything since that way they can increase their profit. Also, Pascal used this realization to grow coffee himself in his garden and to sell only the excess coffee on the market to make money. Nowadays, his wife is taking care of the coffee business. With the profits from producing coffee, in 2013, Pascal financed his degree in governmental studies. After having completed his degree in 2014, Pascal became the Fontes Assistant Field Officer, helping our then Field Officer in overseeing all the water projects and supporting them on technical issues. After only 8 months, Pascal has been promoted to be our Fontes Field Officer, a position he has now held for 6 years to our greatest satisfaction. Furthermore, Pascal is married and has two children. Being a long-term thinker, Pascal bought some land many years ago on which he just finished building a house for his family. We are so proud of the person Pascal has become and we are especially thankful to the support he has given to the water project communities.

Lucrezia and Cleophas

While Pascal continues to impress us, Cleophas’ story is in no way less remarkable. Just like Pascal, he was a Fontes scholarship student. He finished secondary school in 2013. Being very fascinated in technical issues, Cleophas pursued a certificate in electrical installation at YMC Wadegewa (Young Men’s Christian Association). After having heard of the Fontes Youth Centre, Cleophas readily made the decision to come to Kampala to attend the business administration course in 2016. He told us that his time in the Youth Centre was the most impactful to him, because there he learned how to think like an entrepreneur and start a business with little resources. At the end the course in the Youth Centre, as a capstone project, students are required to come up with and present a business plan. We were truly excited to hear that Cleophas executed his business plan of selling Umqombothi, a local brew, right after finishing the course. His business is still continuing to this day but it is now his sister that is handling the everyday operation of the business. With the profits he made, he started another business and bought solar panels and batteries to charge phones for customers. Currently, next to being a business-owner, he also serves as Fontes Assistant Field Officer, shadowing Pascal. The village of Katunguru Rubirizi, Cleophas is overseeing and assisting by himself and when we attended the meeting with the local water committee, we were deeply impressed to see how professionally he chaired the meeting and how well his presenting skills have developed. Cleophas recently got married and has a child. Pascal lets him live at his house while Cleophas saves for an accommodation with his wife. Also, Pascal supported Cleophas with his wedding. In regards to Cleophas future plans, he told us, his grand vision is to have a big bar for the community to come together and share a drink.

Alexander Leuenberger

Volunteer, Fontes Foundation Uganda

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Fontes FoundationPascal and Cleophas – Our Fontes Field Officers Continue to Impress

Refactory: Breaking new Ground with Career Day and Tech Knot

by Fontes Foundation on 21/12/2020 No comments

Our first iteration of this event, Career Day, took place in February just a few weeks before the Ugandan government imposed a very strict lockdown on the Ugandan people. Almost 20 companies attended while about 90 of our talented students participated. We had speakers from renown companies such as Laboremus, Fenix, Tugende and Kanzu Code share valuable lessons and insights with our aspiring software developers. After that, the students had the possibility to meet company representatives either on speed dates or at the bazaar where each company had a booth. Lastly, a big BBQ gave everyone the opportunity to mingle and network.

For the second iteration of this event, we had to become very creative since the pandemic made having a physical event impossible. That is why, we had chosen to host a virtual event over hopin, an online events platform, from the British start-up of the same name. Being unfamiliar with the platform ourselves and being the only ones in Kampala using it, made the whole endeavor a daunting task. Also, we changed the name of the event to Tech Knot, giving it a unique name that will stand out compared to other similar events. This time, people were really hesitant in attending because they thought that a virtual event was not worth it and companies are also still struggling because of the pandemic which makes them reluctant to consider hiring people. However, thanks to the unwavering commitment of our team, reaching out to so many people and unrelentingly following up on each and every one of them, we were able to even improve our turnout! Almost 100 students and 20 companies attended. Just like in the previous event, we had speakers from companies but also students presenting their projects at Refactory. But most excitingly we did speed dates and a virtual bazaar. Hopin made all of that very intuitive to use for the attendees. This was reflected in the feedback we got from all the attendees. Especially the employers were positively surprised about the whole event and already asked when the next event would take place, since they enjoyed meeting our students so much and found the event really worthwhile. But the event also received very positive reactions from the students. Two students got a job interview after Tech Knot and we hope that we increase this number next year when the hiring environment has hopefully improved.

Alexander Leuenberger

Volunteer, Fontes Foundation Uganda

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Fontes FoundationRefactory: Breaking new Ground with Career Day and Tech Knot

The Fontes Youth Centre: A Successful Year Despite of COVID-19

by Fontes Foundation on 21/12/2020 No comments

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, but especially for the most disadvantaged in our society. With a very strict lockdown imposed in Uganda, and the closure of all educational institutions, we had to address one very difficult question: How can we continue our courses when most of our students do not have access to smart devices or the internet? And, how can course material be delivered to them when no public transport, no private cars and bodas were allowed on the streets?

A great deal of dedication of the centre manager then, Denis Ssebugwawo, was key. He showed undivided commitment and dedication to enabling the students receive course materials in their various places of residence including Bunga, Kansanga, Ggaba, Kabalagala and other areas. This was done by cycling to and from these places so that the students could continue with accessing their reading materials.

Furthermore, Isabel Odida (the Director) introduced the use of conference calls to deliver facilitation to the students by the various facilitators. Phones were procured with the facilitator being given access to one. Conference calls were made to groups of up to five students each and students were taught. Online methods like use of zoom were not effective because 90% of the students did not have smart devices that could be used to conduct online facilitation. Therefore, a facilitator had to make up to 6 conference calls delivering the same course material to enable students to attend classes. A case in point was the facilitator for Business English who had to have up to 6 sessions delivering the same material every day. After the lifting of the lockdown on academic institutions, we resumed our normal facilitation program. However, it has been intense with extended hours sometimes, so that our students can have all that the courses have to offer most especially with the kitchen practical lessons and Applied ICT. We have managed to complete what was set out at the beginning and also conducted the evaluation exams. I am happy to announce that we have held our graduation ceremony on the 15th December, 2020. 

Assessing the result of food prepared by students in the practical examination for catering

The Fontes Football Club was also revamped with brand new equipment. This motivated the footballers in the team. This team has up to 40 members all of whom are youth who would have otherwise chosen life paths that are detrimental for their destinies. The coach does not only conduct football activities but also holds several capacity building sessions for the youth so that they make better life saving social and economic decisions.

Equipment for the football club

There has been progress in the demand of the services that the commercial kitchen provides some of which include baking and oven use. Marketing of the kitchen services offered has been given priority during the community mobilization sessions that are currently going on. 

Our Job placement program (JPP) is in full gear as we have been able to place up to four students from this cohort even before their graduation. 

The external examiner for the business plan presentations was impressed with the business ideas of two of our students and immediately established contact with his overseas friends to showcase the products and ideas of these students.  This has gone further to bring to life the goals and objectives of the youth centre some of which include to tap into that untapped potential of youth who have not had an opportunity to go through the formal education system. The other goal is to make youth more employable with better skill sets or enable others to start up their own businesses to improve on their income bases. These goals would not be achievable without the continues support Balder Foundation, the main project donor, has given us throughout the years.

There is already an intense mobilization exercise going on in the community where the centre is located and other surrounding areas to register students for our next cohort for January 2021. Already we have up to 41 registered students. This mobilization and registration will be ongoing until we open the youth centre doors next year. 

Rahma Tibasiima

Youth Centre Manager, Fontes Foundation Uganda

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Fontes FoundationThe Fontes Youth Centre: A Successful Year Despite of COVID-19