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Kitibwa……Big News!!!!!

As we approach the end of the year, the team in Jinja has some great news regarding the vocational centre. We are planning to establish a restaurant at the centre, to be run by the students, with the aim of creating income and move towards our goal of self-sustainability at Kitibwa. If the first restaurant is a success, then we are looking to extend the project beyond Kitibwa and set-up a franchise, creating jobs for local entrepreneurs.

So the restaurant is going to be serving fresh juices and the local favourite chapatti’s…. but with a twist. Chappati in Uganda for those of you who don’t know, is basically a savoury pancake/crepe used as a wrap. Any interesting suggestions on what we could put in our wraps would be appreciated. Our mission is to change the attitudes of Ugandan’s towards continental cuisine, while still providing all the local favourites.

If there is any volunteers out there that want to come and have a great experience in Uganda, while running a restaurant then let me know and you could be part of this great project, or any of RND’s other projects.

Character of the Week

Suzan Kirangi was born in Iganga District and spent much of her childhood jumping around to live with different relatives while pursuing her primary and secondary education. She finished her 4th year of senior school, but was unable to continue to finish her final two years due to lack of funds for school fees.  After a two year wait, she was granted sponsorship to study at Kitibwa by the Diocese of Jinja.

She is currently studying tailoring and hairdressing. Here are her thoughts on Kitibwa Vocational Centre and her prospects for the future:

“How are you finding your experience at Kitibwa?”

“I am finding my experience great, getting some interesting ideas from Madame Justine in tailoring and Madam Josephine in hairdressing.”

“What is your favourite thing about Kitibwa Vocational Centre?”

My favourite things about Kitibwa is the opportunity it is giving me for a better life in the future!”

“Tell me something funny about yourself?”

“When people are quarrelling, I just laugh at them and enjoy them”

“What job are you aiming for after graduating from Kitibwa?”

“When I finish I would like to become a hairdressing teacher, like Madam Josephine.”

Examinations in Progress….

The girls are currently sitting there end of term exams and here are a few snaps of the hairdressing girls in action, in their practical exam. They spent the morning searching the town looking for their hairdressing models, which consisted of the local women of the village. Here’s what they have been up to:


Good stuff!…. well that’s everything for now…….. Keep up the support as we come to the end of 2011!


Kitibwa…. Ideas Brewing!

So it’s my second post for RND, and things are progressing nicely at the vocational centre. The girls are settling into their temporary accommodation in the classrooms, while the new dorm rooms are being constructed. The tailoring girls have started designing and making their first clothing items on the sewing machines and the catering girls have been producing some great dishes. I had a taste of their fish soup the other day and I have to say it was delicious!

Income Generating Ideas:

Laptop bags

So the exciting news is that Justine has put together a few prototype laptop bags. We intend on making a variety of suitable for Apple products, netbooks and regular size laptops. Here are a couple of pictures of one of the prototypes for your guys to sample:

What are they made from?

Re-using sugar grain sacs from the local sugar manufacturing plant in Jinja, the tailoring students at Kitibwa are able to put together some great designs. The RND team in Jinja thought that creating laptop bags to sell back in Europe from these designs would be a great way of creating some income for the centre.

Construction of the Dorm Rooms

Sometimes I question how much work the builders on site at Kitibwa are actually doing. They spend quite a lot of time sitting around eating ice cream and laughing amongst themselves…. I guess it’s a global thing. Nonetheless, they have managed to begin constructing the framework for the roof of the new dorm rooms. Here’s how it is looking so far:

Kitibwa Character of the Week

This week’s Kitibwa character is Lucy. Born in the west of Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, she took the long trip across the Lake to Uganda, to attend Kitibwa.

After losing her father in 1999 and Aunt in 2009, she had to stop her school education, due to lack of funding. She had not much choice but to work in the village to keep food on the table and has worked for the past 2 years doing a variety of jobs to find her way. Finally in early 2011 she was granted sponsorship by the Diocese of Jinja to attend Kitibwa Vocational Centre.

Since joining Kitibwa, Lucy has been one of the most promising students, due to her positive attitude and her commitment to taking advantage of the opportunity she has been given. I put a few questions across to one of our newest students at the centre:

“What do you like most about Kitibwa Vocational Centre?”

“I enjoy the cool environment and the teaching that we are given”

“What are your plans after graduating from Kitibwa”?

“I intend to go on to be a successful Tailoress!”

“Tell me something funny about yourself”?

“I like joking around, even about serious matters!” (I think secretly, we are all guilty of that!)…. good stuff.

Ideas for income generation…..

Any ideas from you guys at home for making some money for the vocational centre or any other of RND’s projects, feel free to post the ideas on the Facebook page.

It’s great to see RND were involved in another big event; for the  International Day of Solidarity. So hats off to the guys in Brussels for getting involved with that one.

That’s it for this week. Tune into the Facebook page every second Tuesday for more news on Kitibwa.

Keep up the support!


Kitibwa…. Hello World!

Hello World! it’s Peter here, for those of you who don’t know me… I will give you all a little introduction: I am the new RND volunteer in Jinja, helping to run the Kitiibwa vocational centre. I have committed myself until January 2012 to try an develop the operations at Kitibwa.

With the encouragement of the RND team I decided to keep a blog of life at Kitibwa over the next few months. Each week I will introduce you guys to the characters at the vocational centre, their stories, and daily life with the students. So I invite you to follow my weekly posts and keep up the support!

I am now five weeks into my time working for RND and there are some good vibes around the organisation. The construction of the new dorm rooms at the Kitibwa Vocational Centre is under way and RND has confirmed the building of the new primary school at St Francis, which shall open its door to students in January 2012.

On my side, the vocational centre is looking in good shape, the students are excited about the new term and we have some interesting ideas for the coming months. So far I have implemented some basic bookkeeping records and a receipt system, in order to keep the finances of the centre in order. Moreover, working with the staff, we have identified the essential resources for each department for October and each teacher has been given a small budget to purchase equipment for their classes.

The next stage that I am looking into at the moment is income generating activities for the centre. The idea of the vintage laptop bags/cases made from local grain sacks is currently in operation, as the tailoring teacher is putting together a few prototypes. We hope to produce a couple of hundred to send back to Europe in time for Christmas.

Kitibwa’s Character of the Week:

We begin with Justine, the face of Kitibwa Vocational Centre. Born in Mayuge District, Justine lost both of her parents at a very young age and spent most of her childhood living with her grandmother.

Showing a keen interest in her readings at church and an enthusiasm for learning, she was adopted for a short time by a Father Bukina, the priest from her local church. Not long after arriving at the bishop’s house, Justine was granted sponsorship by the Jinja social workers office, to attend St Matia Mulumba Technical School in Jinja. There she undertook courses in tailoring and catering, while balancing a social worker’s course at YMCA Uganda. While studying, she also managed a job as a house girl, unpaid in order to have a roof over her head and a place to sleep (I consider her superwomen).

After completing her studies, she decided she would like to help others, the same way she had been helped throughout her childhood. After hearing an announcement on the local radio station, she undertook a teacher’s training course in Jinja Town, where she became qualified to teach tailoring.

In 2010 Justine joined Kitibwa Vocational Centre as the matron and tailoring teacher, and has recently taken up responsibility for the gardening classes, kindly established by former RND volunteer, Elena, earlier this year. As well as her crazy schedule at the centre, that is only half of the story. She also has to care for her two baby twins; Waiswa (left) and Babirye (right); who spend most of their day either chasing the goats around the compound, asking me for biscuits or crying when Justine leaves them for ten seconds.

Justine tells me her dream is to be able to afford to send her twins to school and buy a plot of land where she can build a house, which she deserves. I think we all owe her a round of applause for all her hard work over the past year, keeping the vocational centre running.

Feel free to leave comments on the Facebook page and keep up the support. Next post I shall tell you more about our laptop bags projects and will be putting our ideas for generating money for the centre to you.

Until next time…