28 July 2008

If I were asking for money...

So, I feel a bit silly even doing this, and many of you know that one of the things I really dislike talking about, let alone "asking" for, is money. That most evil of evils, the root, yet makes the world go 'round with all of its greed and dreams and stuff. Anyway, the exciting part of this blog is that my school, especially the headmaster (principal), has become excited about the computer lab project and especially making it a decent size and with good computers. Our vision is to put in a lab of EIGHT Inveneo computers! I've done a good budget on the project and this is going to cost about $4834 dollars.

Now, ideally I should write a grant to get this money, but from looking into grants, I've found that the lowest community contribution1 is 20%. Usually, Peace Corps volunteers shimmy around this a bit by having "in kind" contributions where the community does a bunch of work for free and that's included to cover a large part of the contribution. The problem is, that's difficult to do when nearly all of the costs are monetary for buying the computer equipment. The other option was to get fewer, or lower quality computers that would just crap out in a couple years anyway. So, I've offered to try and raise money informally among family and friends and ask instead for a 10% community contribution2. In addition to this, I've been saving from my own Peace Corps stipend3 for about 5 months and have saved $520 towards the project.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I want to gauge interest in donations from home. To do this I've put an anonymous vote on the right side of this blog. Please note that this is in no way a commitment to contribute, but rather to give me an idea of whether this method would work. I appreciate all truthful responses, and send lots of love to everyone.

Jones out.

1 - This is the amount of "money" put forward by the community to pay for the project. The grant puts up the rest of the money.
2 - Of course, in addition to this, most grants ask a lot of questions about plans for sustainability, which I also plan on developing with the community. I've begun training a few teachers to be computer administrators and know some things about managing programs and viruses (although we shouldn't have many problems with the latter due to our reliance on Linux-based OSs). The next thing I want to get started soon is some type of committee to get things moving and spread the word.
3 - This would probably be considered pretty meager by US standards. To give you an idea, but not the actual amount, if the poverty level were set at $5000 dollars income per year I would fall a healthy margin below that. However, it's still about triple what teachers here get, who are doing quite a bit better than the average Ugandan. At times it has seemed ironic that I'm a volunteer and making so much more above the average of the people. I've run out of money before (partly due to banking errors) and had to live for a week on about a dollar and left-over food, which is probably a more realistic experience. So, to feel a little better about myself I've been using good amounts of this money to improve the resource room, or in saving towards this project, or buying materials for the savings groups.

14 July 2008

Pen Pals?

Just a quick note here. Not much is new, still doing the same things, but might be expanding the VSLA (savings groups) to some poorer parents. Yesterday I had my first meeting under a tree where the participants were mostly sitting on the ground--I felt very Peace Corps.

My counterpart, Yeko, has expressed interest in having a pen pal in the US. Is anybody interested in that? If so, just send me an email with your address and I'll have him write you a letter. If I get a lot of responses I'll look for other people here that might want to have a pen-pal.

Peace out.