A new cohort at Fontes Youth Centre

by Anbjorg Tovsrud on 24/10/2018 No comments

Fontes Youth Centre recently welcomed around 50 new students to our premises. The majority of the students are enrolled in the newly developed catering and business course, while others will be attending short courses in either ICT or English.The courses kicked off 24 September; the first week was then dedicated to orientation week, giving the students an opportunity to get to know each other and the facilitators, and to get introduced to the subjects.

Denis, manager of Fontes Youth Centre, holding an introduction session the first day of the courses.

FYC has for a number of years offered courses in applied business skills, which also has included modules in business English, ICT and personal development. Catering was introduced as a separate course in February 2018, after Julius Kamukama, FK Norway/NOREC exchange participant from Amizero Training Center in Rwanda, started working at FYC. Julius has a degree in hotel management and experience from working as a professional chef. He is also passionate about empowering others, and enjoys passing on his skills. Julius was therefore asked to develop a course in catering for the FYC. This course was running as a separate course during the previous cohort. The course proved successful; the demand was high, and 23 students graduated in catering.

Catering students during one of their first classes

Many of the students taking the catering course also wanted to benefit from what was being taught in the applied business skills course, as many of them were aiming to start their own businesses. The soft skills training provided in the applied business skills course was also deemed relevant for the catering students. This, in combination with the high demand for the catering course, made it reasonable to merge the two courses, including the modules in business English, ICT and personal development. All the course components are feeding into each other and are providing the students with a holistic education that includes the soft skills needed to make use of their practical catering skills in a meaningful way, either as entrepreneurs or as employees.


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Anbjorg TovsrudA new cohort at Fontes Youth Centre

Testimonials from Previous Interns

by Hellen Griberg on 04/12/2017 1 comment

Samuel Kueng, FFU Intern Spring 2017 

During my internship at Fontes Foundation, I was granted the opportunity to take on different tasks in a challenging environment, collecting valuable professional experience. I highly appreciated the combination of desk work and practical tasks. My duties included compiling marketing material, conducting research and writing funding proposals, but also working on various projects at the Fontes Youth Development Centre and field work in several fishing villages at Queen Elizabeth National Park. My personal highlight was the organization of the first Career Day at Fontes Foundation for the students of the Youth Centre, as well as other partner organizations. After overcoming many challenges and exercising patience, it was deeply rewarding to see our sharply dressed students network with employers from various sectors, listen to inspiring keynote speeches, and present their startup projects. My experience in the charming city of Kampala was rounded up by meeting a broad range of professionals engaged in diplomacy and development. Interacting with people working for the United Nations, European Union or GIZ gave me great insights into prospective future professional fields.

Samuel Kueng, FFU Spring Intern

Rebecca Grattage, FFU Summer 2017

I really enjoyed my internship at Fontes Foundation. The work was often challenging, and I enjoyed learning more about youth employment and safe water implementation projects in Uganda. The tasks were varied and interesting. My primary role was to look for funding opportunities and writing funding proposals, attending events at the Fontes Youth Centre and writing blog posts for the Fontes Foundation website and social media pages, in addition to following up with Job Placement Programme (JPP) students and varied tasks. The primary challenge I faced as an intern was probably managing to schedule meetings with some of the JPP students, as they didn’t always keep their phones switched on! However, one of the most rewarding parts of the internship was indeed meeting with these students to hear their personal stories – successes, failures, hopes, and dreams. Some of the stories I heard were truly inspirational and will stay with me as I continue to learn and  grow as an individual. I am extremely grateful to Fontes Foundation for allowing me to be a part of the team. I hope the organisation continues to grow and help make positive changes in Uganda and beyond!

Rebecca Grattage, FFU Summer Intern







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Hellen GribergTestimonials from Previous Interns

Developing your Personal Brand

by Rebecca Grattage on 15/09/2017 No comments

On Wednesday 6th September, the Fontes Youth Centre welcomed Larry Holm, CEO of People Performance Group Uganda, one of the leading HR consulting companies in Uganda, to talk to the Core Course students about personal branding.

Larry got the conversation started by asking the students how much they buy “Irish” (potatoes) for. This animated the discussion and helped everyone to consider pricing, and what distinguishes one seller from another. The students discussed using lower prices to try and attract more customers, as most sellers compete on a price basis.

Larry worked with the students throughout the session to open their minds to new ideas, suggesting adding value to a product instead of lowering the price – explaining that by adding value to and branding a product you can charge a lot more money for it. Larry spoke a lot about developing one’s personal brand and being unique in order to attract customers. He described Personal Branding as something that differentiates you from others.

Core Course students listening to Larry Holm’s talk.

Many of the students at the Fontes Youth Centre aspire to start up their own businesses after completing the course, so Larry asked the students what sort of businesses they are planning on starting; their ideas varied from restaurants and eateries, producing boiled food, opening a beauty salon, creating an electronics company, and many more.

Larry spoke about the danger of worry and how it can drain you. He explained that you need energy to push yourself, so it is important to get rid of your worries. The students described their worries, including financial, sickness and employment issues. Larry suggested prioritising key worries, and then deciding when you would like to have dealt with this particular worry by. He spoke enthusiastically, helping the students realise that the more worries that they manage to eradicate, the more energy they will have for pushing and motivating themselves to be successful.

Thank you, Larry, for such an interesting discussion!

PYC Core Course students with Larry Holm after the talk.

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Rebecca GrattageDeveloping your Personal Brand

Capacity Building Workshop at PYC

by Rebecca Grattage on 31/08/2017 No comments

Last month, PYC hosted a business management and capacity building workshop with guest speaker Mr. C. Ramsby, a Swedish investor. The workshop focused on management style, business management, evaluations and definitions.  The students were asked to develop their own business plans which Mr. Ramsby offered to revise, correct, and even finance if he deemed them economically viable enough. The capacity building workshop helped to push the students to think differently and contribute to the conversation, each student coming up with a business idea to contribute to the group.

Mr. Ramsby used real-life situations to help the students to imagine and relate to business management. He asked the students what they do to deal with everyday life situations,  relating this to how to effectively assign and manage tasks in business, breaking down each and every task that is done to make an event a success – from washing dishes, shopping, cleaning the house, cooking and serving food to guests. Mr. Ramsby highlighted that each person’s individual effort helps to contribute to the success of an organization. He also talked about 360 degree business analysis and the need to make assumptions when doing business planning.

Mr. Ramsby then talked about innovation, highlighting the importance of new ideas, explaining that when planning, it is important to create unique selling propositions which should be the team, the product or the package.The students were challenged to work together, improving their team-work skills. They loved the workshop and asked to have Mr. Rambsy back at the centre for other business management and capacity building workshops!

Guest speaker Mr. C. Ramsby talking to PYC students.

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Rebecca GrattageCapacity Building Workshop at PYC

Community Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation is specialized in community development through the implementation of safe water systems and education projects. We pride ourselves in our long-term approach and focus on sustainability. In effect, in twelve years of being active in supplying water to disadvantaged communities as an entry point to escape poverty, we were able to attain a retention rate of a 100% of our portfolio projects. One of the main pillars of our long-term approach is Community Involvement. This article briefly touches on benefits and costs of this form of organizing our projects and discusses ways to smooth the processes.

There are many benefits that come with the involvement of the respective communities and the employing of local resources. Most of them are related to the creation of ownership. By closely involving the communities in the planning, implementing and running of our projects, we aim to establish a sense of ownership and thereby increase of responsibility within the community.  However, deep community involvement also bears the potential of challenges. Some challenges are found in the implementation of sound management processes.

Most failures in management result from three major reasons; first, the attitude of the community towards money collection. It is a common belief in some communities that it is legitimate for the volunteering water committee to use some of the money collected from water sales to cover their basic needs, instead of improving and maintaining the water system. This misunderstanding can lead to mismanagement of funds by the water community, which comes with terrible consequences in case of defects in the water systems.

Secondly, due to a low democratic capacity, it is possible that the community elects people for short-term personal gains instead of by reason of capability.  In unfortunate cases, this can result in locally elected representatives with little inspiration or interest of developing the water project, in the worst case even to an embezzlement of funds. Lastly, the high illiteracy level among people in rural Uganda is a prevalent challenge. Literacy constitutes the minimum criteria for some of the positions within the water committee, such as chairman, treasurer and secretary, in order to being able to conduct their tasks. These criteria unfortunately exclude a part of the population from being eligible to the mentioned positions.

Workshop on financial management

Over the years, we developed different tools to tackle the mentioned challenges. Regarding the financial management issues, we have been increasingly focused on educating the water committees in cash management and basic accounting. For this to be successful, it is important to keep the tools simple and to move step by step as well as to let the committees try and fail.

To foster the democratic capacity of the communities, we educate communities about the importance of electing strong and responsible water committees. Through workshops and capacity buildings that are organized at least once every year, Fontes teaches roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the community, aiming at improving the understanding of the entire system. We constantly remind the members of the community that the project belongs to the community and not Fontes Foundation. The community should therefore take responsibility for inventory of the systems, and supervise the water committee, which is directly accountable to them.

To solve the illiteracy issue, Fontes has started a scholarship program where a child is selected from the villages basing on performance, discipline and the financial status of the guardian or parent. The program covers four years of high school and two years of vocational training. This has been very fruitful, two former students, Cleophas and Pascal supervise the water projects on behalf of Fontes Foundation.

In addition to these formalized efforts, we need to stay open-minded to learn and flexible to find individual solutions, adapted to specific occasions. This was apparent in a recent case, when a respected treasurer turned blind. Since the community insisted on keeping the experienced treasurer, we agreed on appointing an assistant to help him, who takes over the reading and writing. In this way we managed to ensure the completion of the task without interfering with the decision of the local community.

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fontesCommunity Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

Meet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

Cleophas Tumuhimbise comes from the small fishing village of Kashaka, one of the villages where Fontes Foundation has installed a safe water system. His mother, as a single mother, could not afford his education. In the extremely poor villages of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, without an education, a young boy like Cleophas is expected to become a fisherman. A fisherman’s life is extremely harsh with little pay and dangerous working conditions. The fishermen of Kashaka risk their lives every day to catch fish in lakes that are crocodile and hippo infested. Thanks to Cleophas’s sponsor in Germany, he was given a chance to study and build a better life for himself.

With his donor’s support, Cleophas completed secondary school and two years of vocational training. He now has a certificate in electrical engineering and one in business management. His hard work and excellent grades made Cleophas a model student, while his outgoing and friendly personality has helped him to establish good relations and networks within his community. This strong community involvement made Cleophas the perfect candidate for our field intern position. And we weren’t wrong, he has already hit the ground running, assisting our field officer and also former scholarship student, Pascal. When Kashaka lost their water technician, Cleophas was quick to step in and take over the position.

In addition, Cleophas continues to build strong ties to his community by recently opening a bar in Kashaka.

By sponsoring a child through the Fontes Foundation’s Scholarship program, you can provide a child like Cleophas with the opportunity to escape poverty and create a better life for themselves and their community. Find out more about how to sponsor a child this Christmas.

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fontesMeet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

Fontes Foundation’s newest board member

by fontes on 16/12/2016 No comments

Michael Pletscher, joined Fontes Foundation as an Intern in early 2013. As an intern, Michael demonstrated strong leadership skills and was known for his enthusiastic hands on approach. In addition, Michael adapted very quickly to the Ugandan lifestyle, in particular to the Ugandan food. As Regional Coordinator, Michael has ensured the technical quality of all activities in the implementation and management of Fontes’ safe water, education and youth programmes. His valuable contribution has increased fundraising efforts, community mobilisation and improved organisational structure.

As we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to Michael and loose his knowledge and expertise, we were proud to invite Michael to be a Fontes Foundation board member. Michael’s extensive experience working closely on all of Fontes Foundation’s projects makes him the perfect candidate for providing advice and guidance for Fontes’ activities for hopefully years to come.

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

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fontesFontes Foundation’s newest board member

Do all kinds of voluntary work lead to development? The thoughts of an intern

by Michael Pletscher on 11/03/2015 No comments

After being nearly six months in the city of Kampala, my time as an intern with Fontes Foundation Uganda is going towards its end. The impressions and experiences after working in a Sub-Saharan African country for half a year have been many, but the fundamental question is still lurking in the back of my mind: “have I really achieved something, have I made a difference?”

There is an on-going debate on the value of having volunteers and interns from the West working in developing countries. Thousands of people, particularly from Europe, travel to the Global South each year to volunteer. Their incentives and motivation are very diverse. Many have a very strong wish to actually make a difference. Others desire to use this opportunity to improve their CV, to increase their chances to get a job in the development aid industry. An industry more and more people want to work in.  For the most of us it is a combination of the two.

Do all kinds of voluntary work lead to development?

I am the first to acknowledge that it is extremely admirable to see that one goes to the other side of the world to work for free. At the same time we have to ask the question; “do all kinds of voluntary work lead to development?”

There is no doubt that volunteers and interns from the Global North often bring a set of skills that in many cases benefit NGOs, ideal organizations and communities in developing countries. The intention is good, but unfortunately, there is many unserious organizations operating. Many organizations operate in a way that can be described as volunteer-tourism or voluntourism. For an amount of money you can book a stay at a school, kindergarden, or similar institutions, and very often there are no criteria’s and demands for a set of skills or qualifications. The length of the stay varies from a couple of weeks to several months.

How is it possible to create long term change if you teach English at a primary school or work at an orphanage for three weeks, especially if you don’t have formal qualifications? It is very debatable how beneficiary it is for an orphan to get a new caretaker every other week.

Be critical

My intention is not to discourage European youth to travel to the socalled developing world to volunteer, but rather to be a bit more critical to what I would call unhelpful, and even harmful tendencies associated with many volunteer tourism experiences. The cynic in me suspects that these short-timers take home more from their slumming in the Third World than they leave behind for the disadvantaged they are supposed to help.

My main worry is that the culture of voluntourism, where the only thing you are doing is the cleansing of the developed-world middle-class guilt, will take over for the kind of voluntarism which is based on community involvement, where you work with the community, sharing your experiences as equal partners, for a longer period of time. You do not empower disadvantaged communities and promote long term change by lurking around in Africa for three weeks.

What about Fontes?

What about my own internship? Have I saved the world through my engagement with Fontes Foundation? The answer is no. I am no expert in water and sanitation or working with at-risk youth, which are the major fields Fontes Foundation work within. My Ugandan co-workers know so much more about this. On the other hand, I hope, and feel, that I have made some sort of contribution. I have not been teaching or building schools, I have spent most of my time in an office with air-condition and a coffeemaker. I have not been doing any physical labour, but writing reports from the fields, prepared donor relation materials and planning the implementation of new projects. I have been given serious and challenging tasks, and done them according to my abilities.

My time as an intern is going towards its end, and I am still notoriously critical when it comes to volunteer programmes in the Global South. But at the same time I dare to say that I have achieved something. Did I save the world during these six months? The answer is no. The world is too big and complex to be saved in six months. It will at least take a year.

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Michael PletscherDo all kinds of voluntary work lead to development? The thoughts of an intern

Fontes Foundation featured in the Norwegian Magazine Bistandsaktuelt

by fontes on 01/09/2014 No comments

Back in March Fontes Uganda hosted Tor Aksel (journalist) and Espen (photographer) from the well-known Norwegian magazine Bistandsaktuelt, which writes about development assistance and aid. Tor Aksel and Espen were working on a story about youth and unemployment in Uganda. After an introduction to our team at the head office on Nakasero Hill, Kampala, they joined us to visit our Potentiam Youth Centre in Bukasa.


The students were having their monthly Capacity Building Session with Annette Achieng from Ann Textiles (Kampala) about production and profiting from ecological, hand made arts & crafts made from Ugandan textile. Ann’s products are really impressive with beautiful patterns and they feel great as they are made from pure Ugandan cotton. It was fascinating and truly inspiring to hear about how she started her successful business.

The article was published in only few days ago. In the paper version, there is even a picture of Lucrezia Biteete (Fontes Foundation Advisor), as well as Jesca, a former student from the Potentiam Youth Centre. You can access the online version at this link (only in Norwegian).

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fontesFontes Foundation featured in the Norwegian Magazine Bistandsaktuelt