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Message From Our BOD President Julie King

Dear Into Your Hands Friends,

I want to introduce you to my new friend Benna. I met Benna on my trip to Uganda last month. She rode up to our Women’s entrepreneurship group on her motorcycle. I was immediately captivated by her smile, and the bumper stickers on her bike that read: Into Your Hands. Nice marketing and we hadn’t even started the class! As Kristy and I taught an Introduction to Business class to forty or so aspiring women entrepreneurs, Benna continued to capture my attention.  She asked relevant questions during the opportunities and challenges portion of the workshop and sought to encourage her peers throughout the training.

When I asked her what business opportunity she was exploring, she explained several. She already had pigs, which started from a single pig gifted by Into Your Hands.  Now she has nine in her piggery and is considered a local consultant and role model for Into Your Hands and other organizations on pigs.  Benna also attended one of our Community Development Association workshops on drought resistant crops that helped her family with their coffee plantation. She and her husband had hired a local farmer to support them with their businesses but they want to expand. Does she grow existing businesses like pigs and coffee or does she try something new like poultry? This women’s enterprise workshop had her considering the opportunity, diversity of income versus the challenges and lack of specific poultry knowledge.

Benna was taken aback when I put my hands on her shoulders, hugged her lightly and told her she was my hero. I’m still not sure how that was translated, but she put her hands on mine, smiled and made sure I knew I was invited to visit her home.

I have to tell my friends, the people who support us; this is what happens, when we provide the resources through Into Your Hands to Ugandans like Benna.  Into Your Hands translates those resources into 350 enterprise projects like Benna’s pig and reaches over 750 community members through Community Development Groups where Benna learned about drought resistant coffee crops.

And at our annual event, we began raising money for the 53 women in this group to participate in a women’s enterprise training program beginning next year.  Maybe Benna’s local employee was the father of one our 200 students through our Hands of Hope program in 2016. The translator for Benna and I, Ronald, an Into Your Hands intern, had been one of our scholarship students when I last visited 8 years ago. I realized as I waved Benna away on her motorcycle, we are all connected. I am joined with you through your interest, passion and history with Into Your Hands. We are joined with communities in Uganda, people we don’t know, haven’t met. Motorcycles with stickers on them, women expanding a pig business sponsored by one of you from one piglet into nine and changing village lives by hiring others, who then send their children to school, who then pay another teacher. And the ripples go on.

Thank you for helping us be connected and make ripples a world away. Please stay passionate and involved with our resourceful and learning communities in Uganda. It is truly miraculous what we can do together.

 

Julie

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My Trip to Uganda

In October 2016 I had the pleasure of accompanying Kristy Hitchings and Julie King from Into Your Hands-Africa on their trip to Uganda.  It was the most amazing trip I could have ever imagined!

Part of my time in Uganda was spent visiting a few of Into Your Hands-Africa’s beneficiary schools St. Denis and St. James.  It was during this time that I was introduced to a young girl named Florence.  Florence’s parents were both deceased and she was helping raise her younger brothers and sisters.  It is very difficult to stay in school when you have a family to support!

I decided then that I would sponsor Florence’s education in secondary school through the organization’s Hands of Hope scholarship program.  It is my hope that Florence will graduate and I can then sponsor her while she attends vocational school!  We also spent some time visiting the families involved in IYH’s agricultural and livestock projects.  Through the generosity of IYH and their supporters, these families are taught valuable skills and awarded an enterprise project in their choice of piglets, chickens, or coffee or mango plants. These projects allow the families to develop and sustain a business amazing!!  The families that were helped by IYH were so awesome!  They were so proud of their piglets or farms whichever they had chosen.  And they were so thankful for our visit.  One woman gave us a gift of eggs and tomatoes, even though what she gave us may have very well been the only food she had for that day!

My trip would not have been complete without the Uganda staff of IYH. Staff members, Angella,

Suss, Lydia, Annet, Justine, and Mukasa, who guided us every day as we visited the schools and families and my trip wouldn’t have been the same without them.

My trip to Uganda was so special to me.  I’ve traveled several places but never have I felt so connected to a particular land or people.  Being part of IYH, I felt part of something larger, part of a warm, supportive community.  I can’t wait to return!

Debbie Carline, Insight Trip Ambassador 2016

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Small Family Business are Where You Should Invest Your Money

The idea behind the Adopt a Family Program is to help families become self-empowered so families in turn can build on the foundation to become self-sustainable. When a family is self-empowered they can send their children to school. They can have access to clean drinking water and medical services. They can provide their children with clothing and shoes and a nutrient-rich diet.  They can be successful models to other community members to follow.

The Adopt a Family Program allows Ugandan families to not only raise their own living standards but also lift the entire community through increased financial sustainability, food security and up-to-date agricultural and livestock knowledge and programming.

Adopting a family pairs the donor directly with a family in Uganda. Financial gifts provide opportunities to acquire business and animal-husbandry training courses, veterinary services or agricultural advisement, in addition to an enterprise project in piglets/chickens, seedlings, or coffee/mango plants.

The selected Ugandan family learns how to keep business records, how to save money and set goals and how  to be a business leader and entrepreneur within his or her community.

A common phrase most heard by Into Your Hands Africa staff is that ‘you blew my mind.’  This concept that if beneficiaries are given enough training and education, it is possible for anyone to pull himself or herself up out of poverty.

The program is largely seen as an ongoing, scalable investment as it begins by supporting one family and quickly impacts another, through a pass-on process where one family gifts a piglet or chickens back to the organization for the next generation of entrepreneurs. The cycle of giving back continues. If successful, the family becomes self-sustainable, as they continue to raise their own standard of living, and by working with other community members and then also play a role in changing the community for the better.

Adopt a Family is based on one idea, that families are vital and operate by endlessly giving and contributing to one each others well being. This program, while the distance between families, is a gift from one family to another, which has a lasting effect, and a domino effect.

For instance, through the Adopt-a-Family Program, enabled Nanyondo Praxenda, to be a beneficiary of the Send-a-Chicken Home Program. She received six four-month-old chickens. Two months later,she was able to supplement her family’s diet with 90 to 120 eggs, monthly, something that added to their diet, but also added to the families income. Merely, four months after receiving her initial six chickens, Nanyondo began hatching chicks. She was able to sell chicks that she had hatched to fellow community members for 120,00 Ugandan Shillings, which is equivalent to $35, and accounts for about half of what an average monthly income in Uganda is. By also selling her eggs she was able to create a business that put her over the monthly average in Uganda and was able to pay for school tuition for all of her grandchildren. She was also able to collect 46 trays of eggs, which ultimately totaled 1,365 eggs and was also able to sell 29 of those trays that brought in an additional $128 and was still able to feed her family with the leftover eggs her chicks had produced. She has been able to create a business where she spends only a small sum of money on animal feed and all of the funds regarding her business. In a short time she has expanded her project to 18 birds. She always keeps five, so she can continue to earn residual income from the project.

This is just one example of how adopting a family impacts a whole family but also a  whole community. Through a small sum that goes to a start-up, families are impacted, education becomes a reality and community members are able to help grow their own Ugandan communities.

Josephine Bush, IYHA Communications Intern

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Life Skills Is Shifting our Transitional Educational Programs (and we’re thrilled!)

As you may already be aware, we are in the process of piloting a new Life Skills program for secondary students in an effort to help them to self-fund their own education beyond high school.  The Life Skills Program combines a customized curriculum with exposure visits, a small-scale enterprise project, and ongoing mentorship over a period of three years.

Classroom time is spent helping students understand the importance of education and offering assistance to help them grow in the areas of self-management, self-disciple and character development.  As a part of this program, they will have the opportunity to learn viable skills such as working with a team, goal setting, understanding entrepreneurship and workable business ideas, record keeping, the importance of personal savings and career guidance.

Due to a generous grant sponsored by P, B and K Family Foundation we were able to support all twenty-two senior one students at St. James Secondary School access the Life Skills program.

This in and of itself is amazing, however once we tried out the first few lessons with outstanding results including:

  • Pre and post test assessment scores showed an overall knowledge increase of 47% through the goal setting lesson. Posttest scores showed that students were able to articulate the value of setting goals, define short and long term goals, and understood the process of setting realistic and attainable goals.  Upon workshop completion 100% of students were able to articulate both personal and career goals for their future.
  • Pre and posttest assessment scores showed a significant increase in the Defining Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ideas, Skill Identification and Development Lesson. Post lesson results showed that 88% of students could articulate qualities of a successful entrepreneur and 84% could identify opportunities for income generation from local industries.  Finally, 81% could articulate the value of opening a pig rearing business as a mode of income generation.

We thought we might be onto something.

As a result, we wanted to expand the initial pilot to include senior two students at St. James Secondary School however we lacked the funding required to do so.  This is where you come in.

Due to a few special funders and your end of year gift, we were able to offer this program to all twenty-one senior two students, which mean that in less than three years, your support will have helped all of these children to dream bigger while sending them to college!  Initial feedback from this program has just begun however your impact includes:

  1. Project collaboration has been at an all-time high with school administration and parents participating in the Value of Education workshops. This NEVER happens!
  2. Similar programming has already been requested at alternative secondary schools by community leadership
  3. Six Life Skills personal and professional development lessons have already been completed
  4. 53% of participates are female
  5. Program Reach: 74 students (lesson workshops taught to all grades)

Through last year’s end of year gift, this is what you have helped to create.

This is your impact. Thank you for helping to leave a lasting imprint on Uganda.

Kristy Hitchings, Executive Director Into Your Hands Africa

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“Sometimes, the smallest decisions can change your life forever.”-Keri Russell

Every day, across the world, we all make decisions, large and small that change our lives. In 2007, I decided to accept a call, literally, from Maria Galter (Camp) to attend a meeting in her living room, and from there the genesis of Into Your Hands-Africa began.

A year later, I decided to tag along to another gathering, this time with teachers at a secondary school in Makondo, Uganda, who had an idea of funding piglets as student enterprise project start-ups.

These small decisions have changed me forever in big ways. I feel linked to the people of rural Uganda. I share their values of family, education, work ethic, learning and dreaming. I hope to share their generosity of spirit, simple joy and hopefulness. I want to work with them, to know them, to help them achieve their dreams and raise their spirits when they fall low.

Into Your Hands-Africa, its staff, board, donors, volunteers and friends are the framework that holds up and enables those lofty goals and sometimes wispy dreams of mine.

And now, I have been called to become part of that stout framework again. So, I will be joining you, friends, as President of the IYH-A Board of Directors.

Sometimes, it feels like a small decision, but I know it has the power to change me forever.

Please join me in making a small decision or contribution on behalf of Into Your Hands-Africa this year and change your life as well.

Julie King, IYH-A Board of Directors

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Your Impact at Work: An Inside Look at the Community Development Association Program

A few years ago, IYHA started working with community groups to provide training to help members of the communities start new enterprises. We provided classroom training, exposure visits and some raw materials: piglets, chickens, mango and coffee seedlings. Trained staff members monitor individual and group progress. Our objective was to provide economic development ideas to these communities—a tide that would lift all boats.

  • So, how are we doing? Answers from cooperative members and group leaders offer insight (lightly edited for clarity):
  • I have bought land from saving with the cooperative. I learned modern methods of agriculture like pruning and applying manure. – Kayinga Mike(
  • Being in a cooperative has made me able to get loans and business knowledge. -Kahoohi James
  • I received training in piggery farming, crop husbandry. Excellent group dynamics. Nadvahika Patrick (a social worker!)
  • I have learned the best way to take care of my pigs from exposure visits. It has increased my financial earnings. -Kasamba Samuel
  • Being in a cooperative has increased my ability to work on a team and make friends. It has helped me explore new methods of farming and increased my desire for work. – (Kayemba Jamiiru
  • I have increased my family income and personal development. -Namasembe Immaculate
  • The cooperative has helped me to be known in the community. I learned how to grow vegetables which has helped my family have a more balanced diet. – Nabakaawa Jane
  • I learned that IYHA loves and cares. I learned development ideas. -Bukenya Isa

IYHA works with seven cooperatives, ranging from 12 to 33 members, some of which were established prior to IYHA involvement. One cooperative is entirely composed of women, but most have a combination of both men and women. Most meet monthly and require a financial contribution from members. Some groups pool their money to provide loans to members for their businesses; others have started piggeries. One noted that they’ve begun a plastic chair project (honestly, I’m not sure what that is but it sounds intriguing).

They would like more training in irrigation and information on how to deal with droughts, as well as crop and animal husbandry. The exposure visits have offered both practical techniques and inspiration.

The groups have plans for other, larger-scale projects: buying dairy cows and growing maize for them to eat. As a group, they want to bring a fuel pump into their area, buy a milling machine and create a saving cooperative. The Twezimbe Kiteredde Group has set a goal of getting their members out of poverty and becoming the model village in the entire district. Wow!!!! It has been awesome helping people believe in themselves, aspire for something better and watching them set goals. Our community members are on their way.

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Coffee Plantation, Changing the Future

Kalemeera John has been a farmer his whole life. His parents and their parents were subsistence farmers too, relying on maize and beans every season to feed their family.

John and his wife have a large family, and they both work hard to grow food to keep their nine children healthy. Whatever yields are not used to feed the family; John sells at the local market to pay for his children’s school fees.

However, for many seasons, John’s maize and beans suffered from drought, and his matooke plantation from a new disease called Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW), which has spread, across the nation. BBW caused his entire plantation to yellow, producing very few bunches of matooke.

So when he was invited to a parent’s workshop on coffee crops at his child’s school, he eagerly attended. John spent a full day learning about clonal coffee. He was trained on how to plant, weed, mulch and irrigate coffee seedlings. He was taught how to prune, harvest and dry coffee beans and began to understand the value of coffee. He understood that coffee takes about two or three years before a decent number of coffee beans can be harvested, and although he worried about how to make it through the next years, he decided to take the risk. He applied for seedlings from Into Your Hands-Africa and received 100 clonal coffee seedlings to plant.

It has been three years since John first planted those coffee seedlings. We visited his home which is now hidden amongst lush green coffee trees, a rare sight during the dry season. John showed us around his plantation and explained the hard work it took in the beginning to ensure his seedlings grew tall and strong.

With this special care in the early months of first planting the seeds, he was able to collect his first harvest within two years of planting. Last year, he harvested three full sacks of dried coffee beans, earning 500,000 Ugandan shillings or approximately $137 US dollars. With this, he was able to not only pay for his children’s school fees, but also to buy an additional 250 clonal coffee seedlings to add to those he received from Into Your Hands-Africa. This year, he was able to harvest another three sacks and purchased an additional 150 coffee seedlings.

With a plantation of 500 seedlings, John now feels a sense of relief. He has confidence that with his continued hard work, he and his wife are now able to keep their children in school and provide for their family. He continues to grow maize and beans to feed his family but knows he can rely on the income from his coffee to keep his family educated, happy and healthy.

by IYH-A Project Officer

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Our Farmers are Expanding!

Semanda Atanas is the father of two young girls. He and his wife live in the remote village of Kyantale, their small house perched on top of rolling hills of matooke, cassava, beans, maize and coffee plantations. Nestled in the valley, you’ll find an immaculate coffee shamba, where Atanas planted 90 seedlings he received from IYH-A in 2012. Today, after much care, hard work and 600 additional plants Atanas has purchased, the two-meter tall branches hang heavy with bright red coffee beans, 1,500 kg worth!

Every month, Atanas mounts his bike with his harvest and heads to the local market, using the proceeds to pay for his daughters’ schooling. Next season, he plans to add 310 more for a total of 1,000 trees. The sky’s the limit!

by Into Your Hands-Africa Staff

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The Experience of a Lifetime

It was the experience of a lifetime!

That is what I tell people when they ask about my recent trip with Into Your Hands-Africa to Uganda. It is impossible to fully explain to anyone that hasn’t been there of the life-changing experience that I had. I am so proud to be a part of this organization that is giving such amazing opportunities to the people in rural Uganda.

I am reminded of a quote by Margaret Mead,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Meet Andrew who is in his final year at St. Denis Secondary School. He is an orphan who lives with his uncle, along with his siblings. His uncle is unable to pay all of his school fees, so he relies on a scholarship from IYH- A to fill the gap and wishes to continue his studies to be a doctor one day.

As you can see in the photo above, Andrew is a Denver Broncos fan (or at least he is now that I gave him a t-shirt). I met him one Sunday as we gathered outside of church after mass. With great confidence and without hesitation, he walked up to our group, introduced himself and thanked us for the opportunity of his education. His English is perfect. We stay in touch now through Facebook.

Meet Grace, a third year student at St. James Secondary School. She lives with her parents and six siblings.

Her family was a beneficiary of the Into Your Hands-Africa coffee enterprise program. They started with 90 coffee plants provided by IYH-A and 10 that they purchased as part of the agreement with the program.

As a family, they prepared the land and watered by hand each coffee plant for one year to get the seedlings started. Four years later, they have over 460 plants, all started from the original 100, producing over 70 kg of coffee two times per year. With the income earned, Grace’s parents are able to pay the fees for all seven of their children to attend school.

These are only two of the hundreds of families whose lives Into Your Hands has benefitted. I know that these examples will inspire you to continue your involvement and support of this organization. And, maybe make you want to pack your bags for the next insight trip to Uganda!

by Meg Leadford, Insight Trip Ambassador

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