Moving Downstream

21 06 2012

By Craig Moxley

Fun Fact: What’s the longest river in the world? Well… it depends on whom you believe. A group of Brazilian researchers measured the Amazon at 6,800 km in 2007, but it’s widely recorded by other sources as measuring 6,400 km in length. The Amazon’s only true rival, the Nile officially holds the title of world’s longest river, and is 6,695 km in length.

Had the opportunity to see the humble origins of the Nile this past weekend. According to our guide, a kayaker was killed by a massive crocodile amid grade 6 rapids on a river nearby

We wake up in the clouds here. At around 7:30 my cell barks at me in a robotic voice, “It’s time to wake up. It’s time to wake up.” It’s often cool in the morning around 65 or 70 degrees. Even during the day, it rarely gets above 85 degrees.

Planning for the Health Fair is chugging along. But, I’m worried about funding. Everyone on the committee has voiced concerns that we may have missed companies’ budget planning dates. This week after navigating through the friendly and welcoming bureaucracy of Mityana government health offices, we’ve been able to enlist the Chief Administrative Officer, an influential government employee here, in contacting potential funding groups on the behalf of the Health Fair committee. We have a wide array of officials represented on the committee, and between the 9 other individuals in the committee, their rolodexes probably capture all of Naama and Mityana. We recently updated the activities for this upcoming Health Fair, and I’m really excited about all the services that we are set to offer. This year we hope to carry out testing for HIV, malaria, diabetes, and syphilis, as well as eye care services, immunizations, and dental education. In addition, seminars on topics such as water sanitation, malaria, family planning, and antenatal care will be shared at the event.

I’m also overjoyed to share that all 599 donated books are now in Naama! We left around 15 at the VOSA orphanage, around 30 for the girls group, around 40 for Naama Prep, and just over 500 with the woman’s group. For a while, Genny, Robinah, and I couldn’t figure out how to distribute the books in an equitable way- ensuring the anyone in the community could have access and that people only got books that they actually wanted. Then it clicked.

First suitcase of books to arrive in Naama

Last year, I interned with the Social Entrepreneurship Corps in Nicaragua, where I was introduced to the idea of the microconsignment model. Soluciones Comunitarias, a branch of SEC, offers essential products, that community members would otherwise not have access to, to trained entrepreneurial women who then travel through rural communities selling the products at break-neck, affordable prices. The women then return a percentage of the profit to Soluciones Comunitarias who then uses that money to purchase more products for the women to sell.

After discussing this, the three of us decided to use this model in Naama with the books! The woman’s group has already created a ledger with every book, and is starting to travel around Naama selling the books at very low, affordable prices. Now, we can be confident that people will only get books they want, and will have the satisfaction of buying them for themselves. As an added advantage, no one party will control access to the books. The women will return 25% of the profit earned to Project Naama’s account. We then hope to use this money to ship more donated books to the community. The women’s group will also be able to use 75%  of the profit earned for their projects. Everyone wins! I absolutely love books and believe completely in their power, so it’s been a real pleasure to work on this project. The quickness with which friends and family contributed books as well as their continued interest in the project has also been really amazing. It’s odd because the books were really just an afterthought in our planning process.

I spent most of my time preparing for my research on the counseling program. I intended to research how a year of sessions has affected the psychosocial health of orphaned and vulnerable children who have been enrolled in the program. Unfortunately, my intentions were incompatible with reality. Most of my time working with the counseling program has been spent talking with community partners about different ways to restructure the counseling program in a way that ensures its sustainability. There is almost no funding in Naama for psychosocial health projects like the one we have been holding at VOSA and in the community. Duke students have been the only source of funding in the past. But, this sets a bad, unsustainable precedence and leaves the community without the desired ownership. Consequently, I’ve been operating with the objective of trying to find a way to make this program work in the case of our absence. It’s really tempting to tap into our funds and be the sole funders of the project this year, but I’m not sure if that’s what will be best for the community and the OVC in the long-run. Fortunately, we’re now reaching more community-based orphans than ever before with a new session being held at Naama Prep on Saturdays led by the Community Development Office. 87 showed up Saturday! Whether or not these sessions prove fruitful, time will only tell. But, for the sake of these children who have endured tremendous suffering with the loss of their parent(s), I can only hope.

Hello from everyone in P6 Science!

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2 responses

21 06 2012
Pat Moxley

Great work Craig and Genny…

29 06 2012
Betsy

Craig, You are doing wonderful work, and the considerations of sustainability and ownership are important foresight.

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