Friday, January 31, 2014

Crowdfunding campaign for AFRIpads launched at Indiegogo

 Girls at Semei Kakungulu High School with their AFRIpads.

I've launched a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo to continue supplying 250 Ugandan girls at Semei Kakungulu High School and Hadassah Primary School with washable, reusable sanitary pad kits so they don't miss any school days. Like most girls in the developing world, they're too poor to buy commercial products. And so they use strips of paper or old rags, and stay home during their periods.

The girls will contribute about 90 cents toward their AFRIpad kits. Your donation of $2 will help buy one kit, $10 will help buy five, $20 for 10 kits, and so on. It's easy to help and will make a big difference in these girls' lives. 

Thank you!

Monday, June 24, 2013

More support for Abayudaya community in Uganda

The poorest of the poor: After receiving decorative beads from the new Bead Bank, women of Namanyonyi village make paper beads so they can create jewelry and generate income for their families.

There are developments in initiatives to give a hand up to the Abayudaya community of eastern Uganda. Pnai Or of Portland synagogue voted to continue their support for a second year. They are generously supporting six orphan students at Hadassah Primary at Nabugoye near Mbale. And they are also supporting my project to set up a simple Bead Bank so that the poorest women in the villages can receive decorative beads. The women have received training from members of the Abayudaya Women's Association and have created new paperbead jewelry. Their necklaces will be sold at the ALEPH Kallah in New Hampshire in July. The revenue will go back to the new jewelry makers and they can then repay the Bead Bank and have cash for their families. Thank you, Pnai Or!

Chanting & Chocolate in Vancouver has been growing so that we can now support three students from the donations received at the door. We will also be selling beautiful cloth bags hand-made and donated by Mrs. Hung in San Francisco. Thank you, Mrs. Hung!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Abayudaya orphan: Help send Zilpah to a better school

I'm looking for an angel or a group of angels to help Zilpah Mudondo, a very bright Jewish orphan in the Abayudaya community in Eastern Uganda where I lived. She's been going to the Abayudaya-administered high school but wants to become a doctor and the school doesn't have the science facilities she would need to get into pre-med.

Zilpah would like to go to Hamdan Girls High School, a boarding school in Mbale, the district capital, which has the resources and level of academic competition she needs. Tuition, boarding and expenses are about $230 per term in a three-term school year. The Ugandan school year begins in January. For her first term, which begins Jan. 17, as a new student she would need an extra $100 for the materials each student must supply: for example, uniforms, school supplies, mattress, bedding, soap, even toilet tissue. So that would be $790 for this year, and about $690, barring any fee increases, for each of two more years until she finishes her A levels (the equivalent of Grade 13).

Please contact me by email or phone (604-222-3379) if you would like to participate in helping Zilpah. Canadian tax receipts can be supplied by a Jewish-run registered charity in Ottawa. If a tax receipt is not an issue, please help by clicking on this donation link:
Click to donate for Zilpah through PayPal or credit card

Zilpah is 17 years old and about to enter Senior 4, the equivalent of Grade 11. Her parents died in 1996 and the four children were raised by an aunt. FYI: In the photo above she is holding AFRIpad kits, which are washable, reusable sanitary pads that I'm fortunate to supply to all the menstruating girls in the Abayudaya schools thanks to many generous donors. Most Ugandan girls can't afford commercial products and often miss school.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Abayudaya women create beautiful paperbead jewelry at Nabugoye Hill

Click to order Abayudaya paperbead jewelry
$25 including shipping. Please include the necklace number
and your mailing address.
Naume Sabano with necklaces at Nabugoye Hill, Uganda. 

Click on any necklace to see a larger version













Income-generating project helps relieve poverty

Last night I sent more than 1 million Ugandan shillings to Naume Sabano, chair of the Abayudaya Women's Association, for paperbead jewelry made by her members. The jewelry was sold in Portland, OR, where I visited the P'nai Or Jewish Renewal community last weekend to lead an Abayudaya Shabbaton. The money is only $430 but it means a lot to subsistence farmers who rarely have any cash income.

This morning I woke up to this text message from Naume: "Dear Lorne, what exciting news. I wish you could see my smile but all I could say is thank you so much. May God reward your efforts."
Click to order Abayudaya paperbead jewelry
$25 including shipping. Please include the necklace number
and your mailing address.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

P'nai Or of Portland partners with Abayudaya for Tikkun Olam projects

Click to donate to the Abayudaya through PayPal or credit card

Jewish girls at the high school with their AFRIpads.

Helping support Jewish, Muslim, Christian children in Uganda

The Abayudaya ("People of Judah" in the Luganda language) first embraced Judaism around 1919. Today this remarkable Jewish community numbers about 1,000 people, basically subsistence farmers, in villages in Eastern Uganda.

P’nai Or has voted to support the
Abayudaya Jewish children of Uganda and their Muslim and Christian classmates in the following three ways:
  1. Supply schoolgirls with washable, reusable AFRIpad sanitary pad kits;
  2. Provide bicycles to girls at the elementary school to make education more accessible;
  3. Sponsor orphan students at their elementary school.
I'm a member of the Jewish Renewal shul Or Shalom in Vancouver, BC, lived in Uganda in 2009-2010 and worked in the two Abayudaya-administered schools. P'nai Or will be directly linked with the community through me. I'm a classmate of Linda Zahavi in the Kol Zimra chant leaders training with Shefa Gold, and a friend of Yehudah Winter and Joanie Levine.

Ugandan schoolgirls routinely miss four to five days a month of school because they can't afford commercial sanitary products and are uncomfortable going to school when they use bits of old clothes or newspaper. AFRIpads manufactures low-cost, cloth sanitary pad kits in Uganda to reduce menstrual-related absenteeism and provide schoolgirls with protection for up to a year.

I launched a pilot project at Semei Kakungulu High School earlier this year to give AFRIpads to the 21 Jewish students in the dorm. I'm able to get the kits for $4 and have raised funds to supply another 58 high school students. That leaves 148 girls – 108 at the high school and 40 at the elementary school – who would benefit from the kits provided by P’nai Or fundraising. The current need equals $592.

Bikes make education more accessible for girls.

Many girls live too far from the school to walk every day. So they stay in the dorm, separating them from their families, and putting
financial pressure on the school to house and feed them. If they have bicycles, they could ride from home and stay with their families. 20 bikes at a cost of about $60 each would be a great help. Total: $1,200.

Joel, Nathan and Shalon are orphan siblings.

I have partnered with Aaron Kintu Moses, director of Hadassah Primary School (unrelated to the Hadassah organization), and Vancouver donors to sponsor the education of eight orphans at the school. Another five orphans are waiting for sponsorship. The cost is $240 a year each, for a total of $1,200. Except for minor fees to wire the funds, all the money goes to the kids to help pay for uniforms, books, school supplies, dorm fees and other expenses that are usually beyond their reach.

As part of this project, P’nai Or children and teens can develop pen pals with the Ugandan children as they are taught their lessons in
English. They do not have computers.

The total sought for the Abayudaya is $2,992: $592 for AFRIpads, $1,200 for bicycles, and $1,200 for sponsorship.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Help empower Abayudaya girls with AFRIpads

Click to donate to my work in Uganda through PayPal or credit card

Top: Jewish students at Semei Kakungulu High School
in Uganda with AFRIpad kits. Bottom: The cotton/nylon
kit includes cover, three pads with wings and two without.

A monthly challenge, a sustainable solution

Millions of girls living in developing countries like Uganda miss up to 20% of the school year simply because they cannot afford to buy commercial sanitary products when they menstruate. The Abayudaya Jewish girls and their Moslem and Christian classmates face this same challenge. They use newspaper or rags and miss four-five days of school each month for lack of sanitary products. This absenteeism has enormous consequences on girls' education and academic potential.
The AFRIpads menstrual kitsAFRIpads manufactures low-cost, reusable, washable cloth sanitary pads in Uganda in order to curtail the high rates of menstrual-related absenteeism among primary and secondary school girls. They are made by local Ugandan women giving them the opportunity to generate an income and send their kids to school. The menstrual kit provides school girls with affordable, environmentally-friendly, washable menstrual protection for up to 1 year at about 20% of the total cost of a year's supply of commercial sanitary napkins. AFRIpads is a sustainable solution for girls and women greatly enhancing their health. It also gives them the opportunity to continue work and school during their period, thereby improving their future progress and development.

How to buy AFRIpad Kits for Ugandan girls

Help a Ugandan school girl fulfill her academic potential and help AFRIpads stimulate rural industry and employment. It costs only $4 for one kit, $8 for two, $12 for three, and so on. Here's how:
Click to donate to my work in Uganda through PayPal or credit card

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Out of Africa: Moving Back to Canada

On the first and third Shabbat of the month, I've been hosting Abayudaya students and others at my Kampala home for Kabbalat Shabbat, dinner, a sleepover, breakfast, morning services, and lunch.

In Ottawa last November with Ted Jacobsen, whose support helped kickstart the orphans' lunch program at the Abayudaya-administered high school.

Sarah Nabirye, right, leads student dancers at an Abayudaya festival at Nabugoye.

My cute RAV4 parked outside the Abayudaya Guest House.

Peace Mutonyi, right, my top speller last year, with her family in Kampala. Dick and Marcia Zuker of Ottawa are helping Peace with her education costs.

With my boss Ariful Islam at the BRAC Uganda country office in Kampala.

Vancouver Is Calling Me Home

I'm coming home to live in Vancouver after 14 months in Uganda. The beauty and lifestyle of Vancouver call to me, I miss my spiritual communities and I want to be more helpful to my sister, who has faced a health crisis. My job as publications manager for BRAC Uganda has reminded me that I retired from full-time work at the end of 2006. I've given a month's notice. Uganda is beautiful but its charms are fading for me. I've caused two minor traffic accidents here in Kampala in the last two months. No one has been injured but I'm afraid of hurting myself or others. I'm accident-free in Canada but here there's a gap in my attention. I had thought of returning in mid-November when my daughter Lisa receives her Masters in International Affairs from Carleton in Ottawa. But that would mean arriving on the cusp of winter, rather than summer. My favourite event of the year, the Vancouver Folkfest in July, is beckoning.

So, I fly out of Kampala's Entebbe Airport on Sunday, June 27, arriving that evening, by virtue of the time difference, in Ottawa. I'll be there a few days, and look forward to meeting Ottawa family and friends who have been so supportive of my volunteer projects with the Abayudaya and others. On Wednesday, June 30, I arrive in Vancouver.

I'll be looking for temporary accommodation during July while I search for a long-term rental from Aug. 1. In July I would be grateful for just about any arrangement in the city of Vancouver - housesit, vacation rental, or sharing a home, including helping with rent, expenses, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. For the long-term rental, I'm thinking of paying up to $1,200 for a nice one-bedroom, if that's realistic these days. I'll also be looking for a three- or four-year-old car, perhaps a Prius again. Any leads for these would be appreciated. My Skype address is lmallin.

I leave feeling that I've been able to do some good work with help from many of you. The orphans' lunch project was a major initiative that has meant so much to vulnerable students at the Abayudaya-administered Semei Kakungulu High School at Nabugoye Hill. Kulanu, the New York-based non-profit I represented at Nabugoye for six months last year, has attracted enough funding this year to expand its nutrition program to the point that it began feeding all the students a daily hot lunch last month. Kulanu expects to keep it going for some time. More than $1,000 of the donations I received remains and I am in discussions with Kulanu and the high school about how to use it. For example, deputy headmaster Jaffer Satte has suggested supplying drinking water to the students to go along with the lunches. The area at and around the school is not suitable for drilling a well so water needs to be hauled from more distant wells in jerrycans. The monthly cost would be about $90. Right now the students find water wherever they can. Clean water is essential and we could provide it for at least a year.

For the five students and one toddler I've found support for, I've begun communicating with them and their sponsors (I support a sixth student myself) about how to switch from funnelling the money through me to probably sending it directly via Western Union, a reliable way to transfer funds. If I haven't discussed this with you yet, I will.

Some of the other ways your donations have been spent since December:

  • Eight double bunks for the girls' dorm at the high school
  • Two months of feed for starving chicks at Hadassah Primary School's poultry project (after the contractor squandered the budget)
  • Support for Hebrew education in the Ghana Jewish community, whose spiritual leader Alex Armah studies in the yeshiva at Nabugoye
  • Supplying beading and Judaica materials to members of the Abayudaya Women's Association who've sent necklaces to Ottawa for sale

Since moving to Kampala in December, I've visited Nabugoye to be with and pray with friends from time to time, as well as other Abayudaya villages. But my main way of staying connected to the Ugandan Jewish community has been hosting Abayudaya students going to university here, as well as others, on the first and third Shabbat of the month. We've been developing a Kampala branch of Marom Olami, an organization for 18- to 35-year-olds that is part of Masorti Olami, the Conservative movement in Israel. On the Thursday evenings I do a lot of cooking ahead. After work Fridays I pick up students at Kampala International University about 15 km away. Then we celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat, share dinner, songs and conversation, followed by a sleepover for as many as seven guests. After breakfast, we have a Shabbat morning service, lunch and I drive them back. Marom Olami is reimbursing me for my expenses. I'll be transferring the mattresses, bedding, prayer books and ritual objects to the students. With Marom's help, they will likely rent a space near the university to keep things going. At least I hope so.

One project that is stuck is the Abayudaya Jewish Cookbook. Last year I worked with Jewish women in several villages to create about 30 recipes, and took hundreds of photos of food preparation and display. But I discovered there is nothing uniquely Jewish about the food. It's everyday Ugandan food, which is dominated by bland, starchy dishes. I tried testing some of the recipes in my western-style kitchen but lost enthusiasm. I don't much like Ugandan food and have found sources for the ingredients for the Japanese-Chinese-Korean dishes I love to cook.

About my job: BRAC is an extraordinary organization helping to raise the poorest of the poor out of poverty through microfinance and an integrated program of livelihood enhancement services. At first, I was sent into the field in Eastern Uganda, Tanzania and Southern Sudan to interview and photograph the people whose lives have been changed through BRAC. Then I wrote the annual reports for the East African countries. More recently, editing dry research reports has been less exciting.

I've led some chants in services here as well as before some Sunday morning yoga classes. But I'm really looking forward to the wonderful chanting world in Vancouver. I want to begin again hosting Evenings of Jewish Chant in Vancouver once I'm settled

See many of you soon!