Monday, April 21, 2008

News From Uganda

FAVL Director Kate Parry writes:

FAVL’s affiliate in Uganda, UgCLA (Uganda Community Libraries Association) has now fully embarked on its activities. In January we hired a coordinator, Grace Musoke, who joined us in our first workshop, on how to write proposals for grants. Fifteen libraries sent two representatives each, and everyone spent two days talking about what would be appropriate projects for $1000 and how the projects might be evaluated and the money accounted for. Since then, thirteen libraries have submitted proposals to the Association, which has been given funds by the US Embassy in Kampala to distribute six $1000 grants. The proposed projects range from helping children to produce a reader in Luganda to training library users in computer skills. A small committee is assessing the proposals and will follow up with visits to shortlisted libraries. I am on this committee, so we asked the only FAVL-managed library in Uganda, the Kitengesa Community Library, not to submit a proposal. I am closely involved with this library and did not want to be caught in an obvious conflict of interest!

Nonetheless, there is news from Kitengesa too. In January the University of British Columbia sent funds that had been raised by a student volunteer organization named YouLead to Uganda to establish a computer centre as part of the library. The project necessitates a new building, and the library’s local board decided to include a community hall as well. This hall, when complete, will be used both for library activities and for other local functions, such as weddings, for which people will be expected to pay a fee and thus contribute to the cost of the librarians’ salaries. My husband, who was born and raised in the village, helped us to obtain the land, and the building’s walls are now up. Our major aim is to finish the work; it will require some $20,000 over and above the UBC grant, of which $10,000 has already been raised.

A special benefit is planned in New York on September 17 to raise the remainder; it will take place at Hunter College, City University of New York, and will feature Louise DeSalvo and Meena Alexander, two of Hunter College’s most distinguished writers. So if you are on the East Coast, please mark your calendar!

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