Thursday, July 16, 2009

Progress in Agriculture

We're making some headway on the agricultural projects. The piggery and poultry buildings are almost complete (though construction is taking longer than expected) and we've gotten in touch with some pig suppliers. Next week we will be taking our veterinarian to visit a piggery project in Luwero. If the piglets available for sale get a clean bill of health, we will purchase 30-40 piglets and transport them back to Busia. If we aren't satisfied with the quality of the piglets in Luwero, we will head to another piggery project in Kumi that was recommended to us.

We will be placing an order for 500 chicks tomorrow--they should arrive in a couple weeks.

We're still researching options for purchasing cattle. We still have a couple months before we can actually move in the cows since we have to wait for our grass (cow-feed) to grow.

We've secured approximately 10 acres of land for the sweet potato farm and we've started preparing it for the coming rains. Our target is 15 acres, but we have to move quickly since the rains are coming. It's key to have the land fully prepared (cleared and plowed) when the rainy season begins. Once the rains come, we will plant immediately to maximize the harvest. This is easier said than done since the rains in recent seasons have been erratic at best. Timing is key and very difficult to do well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Agricultural project underway

We started digging the foundations for the piggery and poultry house (chicken coop) yesterday! We've been working with a local veterinarian and engineer to come up with building designs and pick out a site. All the agricultural structures will be located within new hope's compound--there's a lot of unused space currently. Construction should take a couple weeks--then we move in the piglets and chicks!

We're planting grass for the cattle next week. We'll start construction on the cow shed in a couple weeks as well. We've been advised to wait until the grass has grown (a few months) before purchasing the cows. We plan on practicing zero-grazing, which basically means we grow grass on a separate farm (a few miles from new hope) and then harvest that grass periodically and bring it to the cow shed for the animals to eat. By keeping the cows in a relatively confined space, we limit their exposure to diseases. Plus with nearly 5 acres of land devoted to growing grass, we should have plenty of feed for the cows.

Open for Business

The computer school is officially up and running. We finished the final networking issue a few hours ago...and within minutes customers were lining up for the cafe. We're already training some students in computer skills and we're hoping to have more soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Computer school online!

After a couple weeks of wrangling with Uganda Telecom, the computer school is finally connected to the internet via adsl! We still have a bit more networking and setup to do, but we should be open for business by tomorrow.

Martha, Scott and Maggie Pavao, three New Hope volunteers from the US, did an excellent job in setting up the computer school during their time in Busia. As of now we have 13 computers hooked up--7 for the internet cafe, 5 for the computer training programs, and the manager's computer.

The staff and children at New Hope were absolutely thrilled to receive this computer school. Many Ugandans graduate from college without ever learning how to use a computer, so naturally the orphans and vulnerable children at New Hope are beyond excited to begin using these machines at such a young age.

I'm very excited for the next few weeks as the internet cafe opens for business. It was difficult to have to turn away so many potential customers in the past couple weeks as we waited for Uganda Telecom to repair our internet connection, but demand for internet access is huge--we shouldn't have any problem finding new customers. This is a crucial income-generating project for New Hope. If all goes well, the cafe could bring in enough income to fund at least 10-20% of New Hope's yearly budget.

Pictures coming soon!