Fundamental to our participatory ethos here at The Zuri Project is empowerment. We strive to ensure that every project that we support allows our partners in Uganda to take control of the whole project process, from planning to delivery, all the way through to evaluation. In order to achieve this, we believe that it’s incredibly important that all local stakeholders are involved in the process as much as is feasibly possible, and that the project outputs and objectives are clearly articulated and communicated at all times.
With this in mind, our in country team, led by Herbert Niwagaba of Opportunity Africa, delivered a one day capacity building session at Bwindi Cultural Centre*. The primary focus of the day was for Herbert to communicate the values and objectives of The Zuri Project & Opportunity Africa, to provide our new partners, staff and volunteers with an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve in collaboration with local people. The day provided people with a platform from which to ask questions about our work and to understand why we do things following a very specific participatory methodology.
Some of the Opportunity Africa team after the training at Bwindi Cultural Centre.
Herbert spent lots of time listening to ideas about how our projects in Uganda could be improved, as well as considering ideas about how our partnerships could develop and grow. He also conducted a four plus one evaluation, listening to what people are pleased about, hearing any concerns about certain elements of our work, writing down what we’ve tried in relation to project delivery and evaluation and then thinking specifically about what we’ve learned about our processes so far, before agreeing on a number of SMART actions that together, we can take to improve our work in Uganda.
The day also presented Herbert with an opportunity to bring our Ugandan partners up to speed with the progress of our ongoing projects, and it coincided with the opening of the first secondary school in Kihembe; something that we’re immensely proud of and a project that I will be writing about in more depth in the weeks to come.
The feedback that we’ve received from the attendees of the capacity building day has been fantastic – people have said that they now feel more involved in our projects and have gained a greater appreciation of why The Zuri Project is different to many other INGOs they may have worked with in the past. In addition to our regular community led focus groups, through Opportunity Africa, we are committed to delivering capacity building workshops a couple of times each year, to ensure that community members feel truly empowered and valued.
From the very start of our journey as a charity, we’ve always said that we would be nothing without our in-country partners and the people who work tirelessly in Uganda to achieve positive outcomes for other members of their community. Two years in, we’re incredibly proud of the relationships that we’ve built and many of the outcomes that we’ve managed to achieve. But there’s still so much to be done, so much to be learned and so much to be improved.
Days like this help us to reach out to others and work together, to achieve positive outcomes with the people of Kihembe.
* We’re incredibly grateful to Canon Precious, owner of Bwindi Cultural Centre, for funding the day and offering his support to our work in Kihembe.