Monday, November 22, 2010


Periodic Uganda Update: This is the first of hopefully many reassuring and heart-warming follow-ups from this summer. But I am so excited/proud to announce that the chicks arrived to Rose & Paul's finally...November 18th to be exact. I just received this message from Paul:

   Am so happy to inform you that we received the chicks on 18/11/2010, but Unfortunately, due to he long Journey from Kampala to Buwala,we lost two chicks on arrival at the site.
So we thank you very much to gather with the team of Help-international for the great work you are doing to help this orphanage, we really appreciate so much and we hope for better results in the future.
GOD bless you!.



This is a promising step toward sustainability and true self-reliance. When we left this summer, the project wasn't technically "done." We placed the order for the chicks, but orders take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to fill. Even with every detail carefully planned, there is always the chance that something, or someone, could go wrong. There were a lot of somethings and someones we had to depend on to ensure this project sailed smoothly into sustainability, so we've had our fingers crossed for weeks. We left money to pay for the chicks behind with a dear friend, Godfrey, from the Youth Outreach Mission. He worked with us to build the coop and developed a relationship with Paul and the kids. He agreed to help with the finances of finishing our commitments to the process, and provided a healthy "check and balance" to the contract. He emailed me a few weeks ago to update me that things were on track. Paul has emailed as well with periodic updates and to express gratitude and excitement. I have not been worried per se, but just anxious to see them make this significant step toward getting this chicken coop well underway!

Now that they have the chicks, they still have a long way to go. The brooding process is temperamental and they will have to carefully monitor the chicks until they are ready to lay eggs, and then carefully budget their income so that they can increase their brood, another critical step to ensure sustainability and financial growth. But each step they take in fulfillment of the plan we created together, which they committed to, is a step they take toward lifting themselves out of poverty and dependency. I firmly believe that they have every ability to be completely self-reliant, and as they work though this process, they begin to see that too, and that is the only thing of real value we helped give them. It's even better than the old "teach a man to fish" concept. These people already know how to fish, raise chickens, grow corn, etc. They do it better than we do in many cases. It's unlocking the mentality that these skills, their skills are the very keys to their own success. It's shifting perceptions away from the mentality that someone else knows how to do any given thing better than they can. With some planning, organization, sacrifice and hard work, they can be the means to their own success. We expedited the process a little, but ultimately, this was Paul's dream and he, along with some good friends and really cute kids, will be the one to make it come true.

Something to be thankful for. And on that note, now I'm legitimately hungry for fresh farm eggs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

where to start

So many good things to share.  First off, this is a little old, but it needs to get posted. My friend Steven Squire (an aspiring film/design student at UVU) helped get our team video all together for the HELP International reunion a couple of weeks ago. He probably didn't know what he was getting himself into when he agreed to help, but I am forever grateful to him for putting together this: our team video that does about as good a job as can be done capturing our experience. For anyone who has asked about my summer and hasn't had the time to hear me really tell you about it, this is about as good as it gets. Take a few minutes and watch the video. And thanks again Steven.

Next, the documentary for the Eye Camp we did in Uganda finished up as well! So many beautiful cinematic reminders of the summer, but this one in particular is incredible. A couple of BYU film students did an amazing job of capturing Eye Camp...and you can view a clip of their documentary or watch the full thing here.

It's impossible to even think about Eye Camp without thinking of Tipping Bucket. Tipping Bucket is an organization that helps connect people who want to give with really amazing and worthy projects, like Eye Camp. They helped us raise $3000 without which we wouldn't have been able to restore sight to more than 200 people, and literally change the lives of everyone involved, including my volunteers. Tipping Bucket won the BYU Social Venture competition in 2009 and is a fresh approach to fund-raising and non-profits in general. They use social media, fresh branding and grassroots communications to connect anyone who wants to give with projects worth giving to. They embody the mindset that a drop in the bucket does indeed make a difference, and that anyone with a dollar to spare and a desire to give can in fact change the world.

So where is all of this going you ask? Well here is the beauty of this whole story and life in general. (Another silver lining). Jackie Skinner (my old roommate) connected me with HELP International who hired me to go to Africa this summer, and it changed my life. My experience there was empowered and enhanced by Tipping Bucket, who helped me and our team raise money to successfully restore sight to people in Uganda. SaraJoy Pond who founded Tipping Bucket actually moved into my old neighborhood in Provo while I was gone and has been working tirelessly to bring the Tipping Bucket platform and vision to anyone who wants to be involved. SaraJoy hired my good friend Moroni to lead Tipping Bucket's marketing efforts. Moroni invited me to brunch the other day to help with an effort to raise $250k for Tipping Bucket through the PepsiRefresh contest so they can continue to fund projects, like mine, and change even more lives.

This is so simple and awesome. Pepsi took the money they would have spent on a Superbowl commercial and decided to give it away. Hundreds of good causes are competing for the money each month, and all you have to do is vote for the one you believe in. If you like what Tipping Bucket is doing (if you don't by now, I can go on...) then just text 104182 to PEPSI (73774) every day this month. If you have another minute to spare, go to Tipping Bucket's facebook page, Like it and vote there too. If you have ANOTHER minute, go to the PepsiRefresh site and vote there as well. That's it.

Last piece of good news, and another highlight of my life as of late. My dear friend Wilson, president and founder of The Youth Outreach Mission in Lugazi, Uganda, and one of our most loyal local volunteers for Eye Camp this summer was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints this last Sunday. My heart is still bursting with joy about this. This really warrants more than a paragraph, but very long story short, Wilson is truly one of the most inspiring individuals I've ever been privileged to meet. He founded TYOM to empower youth in Uganda to fight HIV/AIDS by living morally upright lives and giving back to their communities. He works night and day to serve his community, he attends a local university and he is 20 years old. Wilson is basically my hero. Over the past 3 years of HELP serving in Lugazi, LDS volunteers have apparently left a similar impression on Wilson, leading him to the missionaries, and eventually baptism. I'm so proud of Wilson, I'm in awe of the power that comes when people just live Christ-like lives, and I'm grateful that I could even know about this story, let alone experience it first hand.

The world is small and beautiful, karma is real, things always come full circle, most often in ways you could never have imagined, there are so many good people in this world, and truth and light will always win out.

peace & love ya'all.

*Oh yeah, and text 104182 to PEPSI (73774)