The process of procuring a dairy cow for the orphans living in the Children’s Home (also the Library) in the Lwengo District of Uganda, within the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization (KCDO), has been a long one. we first envisioned a cow for the children after helping them establish a small farm where they could plant and harvest their own vegetables.
A cow seemed like the logical next step. While we struggled with raising the funds for a cow, the children of KCDO had so much confidence in their cow that they began planting a field with grass, so that their cow could graze.
This represents a true act of faith, and a genuine belief that dreams can come true. The field was planted, but we only had a few hundred dollars towards the cow, not nearly enough.
Willy wrote to us, and sent us photos. The field was planted. The grass had grown. Where was the cow?
They began building the “Kral” the cow enclosure. How soon would we be able to provide a cow?
Clean water areas are provided for the cow; many children do not have regular access to clean water.
Finally, like a gift from heaven, our prayers were answered and a donor gracefully provided the remaining needed funds to purchase the cow!
Holy Cow! She may not be the most beautiful cow, but she will provide milk and dairy products for the children of KCDO. We are eternally grateful to have been able to assist in completing this dream.
How do you graduate from high school or trade school?
First, you have to have the opportunity to attend Primary and Secondary school.
This January we were privileged to receive several donations with which we have been able to support our friends in the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization (KCDO). Our first priority was to support students who needed to pay school fees so as to be able to attend the spring 2022 session of school. Each student requires $250 to attend school for one year. This fee pays for tuition and food. Additionally, students must pay for books and uniforms. Typically they walk long distances to school, often without shoes. Willy Bukenya, Director of KCDO, is so proud of his students that he requested we post some pictures.
We feel blessed to be able to help these children, and others, providing them and their families with the opportunity to improve their lives. If you want to help these Ugandan children continue their education, please connect with us. We will gladly assist you in helping fund the education of these intellectually curious young people.
We write this blog post to allow our readers to see that helping communities in need can be easy and fun. If you have an idea, or just the desire to help, please reach out to us, and together we can spread smiles.
We have worked extensively with our Ugandan friends in the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in an effort to support their search for clean water. Clean water is an essential component for health and sustainability. It is also a very scarce resource in the Lwengo district of Uganda. In conjunction with Willy, KCDO Director, we have been working with various college interns. Sydney asked us for advice on how to hold a fund raiser to provide KCDO with access to clean water. Based upon our previous experience, we know that a related “theme” helps guests to understand the purpose of the fundraising event. We suggested that she make “water” a key theme in her event.
She reports, “”I hosted a party in the backyard of my apartment in order to raise the money. I requested a $5.00 entrance fee for the donation. Many people donated more than this though. In order to encourage people to come and donate, the party had refreshments, music, water balloons and squirt guns. I made a flyer that I sent to all my friends and asked them to share as well. Over 200 people came and I was able to raise $1,000 after reimbursing myself for the refreshments.”
Sydney discussed how to best spend the $1,000. Willy said, “We agreed that we can buy water tanks, Water is a scarce resource in our community.”
Willy reported, “Christian greetings! Am happy to inform you today we are making market survey for water tanks and water drums from hardware shops in the city. This will enable us to get the quotations and compare prices such that by the time we have funds we procure and pay off. It’s so rainy currently and is a good time for water harvesting.” (Rainy season)
“We have been able to identify the water harvesting facilities supplier. We have selected also the households to be supported but those with old caretakers who have 70+years and with more than 3 children in the household.”
“The water harvesting procured for 20 households. Each can store 450 litres of water.”
Sydney’s backyard party was an afternoon filled with fun and games. The result that she was able to accomplish: the donation of water barrels providing 150-200 people with life-saving clean water. Thank you, Sydney!!
The importance of this accomplishment can be seen in the attending officials who presided at the distribution of the water barrels.
Willy stated, “Children and caretakers receiving water harvesting facilities and the function was officiated by Assistant Health Officer, District Water Officer and Assistant District Governor”
Want to join the fun? Let us know how we can help you design an easy fun-filled event that provides life-sustaining results for communities.
This summer, despite Covid quarantines and many closed borders, we still found opportunities to share books and supplies with our neighbors, both near and far. All our activities are ongoing, however current initiatives are in bold.
We were very grateful when author Reshma Sapre reached out to us and donated 82 cases of brand-new beautiful books based upon Indian myths and tales.
Here are two: In the Indian Night Sky and The Traveler, the Tiger and the Jackal. The illustrations are exquisite and the tales have universal appeal. New books are helpful as some of our recipients will only accept new books as part of their donation initiative.
After being named as official Kindess Crusaders, We received several cases of Kindness in the Neighborhood by Wendy Littlefield.
We brought cases of Reshma’s books to the Pequot Library Teacher’s Tent. This tent is open to teachers of the Bridgeport Public school system and provides teachers with the opportunity, each summer, to choose new books for their classroom.
We then traveled throughout Southern Vermont, bringing cases of both Reshma’s and Wendy’s books to medical centers that partner with Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read is a literacy initiative which partners with doctors to provide free books to children who lack access to books. As part of the medical visit, doctors will help parents understand the importance of reading to their child. Children and their parents can then choose a book from the Reach Out and Read supply. We will continue to provide Reach Out and Read with new books, when requested.
We built more BridgePi digital libraries, this time our BridgePi libraries can be powered either with electricity, or be solar powered. As you can see below, each BridgePi is connected to a battery pack that is wired to a solar panel, providing 6-8 hours of constant usage. WiFi enabled devices can download materials from up to 50 feet away. These devices have been essential during Covid as the schools in Uganda remain closed. Due to school closure, the Ugandan Ministry of Education provided digital editions of all school materials from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
We were able to add the Ugandan educational materials to the BridgePi chip, greatly enhancing the usefulness of the digital library. We sent 3 solar powered BridgePi digital libraries, each containing over 1,000 books, to Kyamaganda Development Organization (KCDO), Lwengo District, Uganda.
We received a grant of $1,000 that paid for shipping our devices, and allowed us to fund a high-quality projector, screen and blackout curtains for the KCDO library in Lwengo District, Uganda. We are now working to source and add O-level and A-level practice exams to the chip.
KCDO was able to attract several summer interns, some in the US and some in Europe. We were able to work with them via WhatsApp, sharing some fundraising and donation ideas. KCDO received monetary donations from some interns. Sydney, from California, received hundreds of donated cloth masks which she shipped to us. We wrapped our BridgePi devices in these masks and shipped them to KCDO.
Throughout the summer, we continued to organize our garage, pack and label books, and clothing. We also traveled to various schools to pick up additional books and science lab supplies. As soon as the borders open, we are ready to once again ship to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda!
With help from CT lawyer, Kelsie, we were able to assist KCDO with a legal agreement that transferred a 2-acre parcel of land from the Ugandan government to KCDO, for the purpose of building a medical center, library and playground complex. Additional funds contributed by JF and Zoë will allow KCDO to grade and fence the property, preparing it for construction (more funds still needed for the next phase!)
Together, we and KCDO, are working with Operational International and Project C.U.R.E to acquire needed medical supplies.
We are most grateful to Bob for funding food and school fees of the 35 KCDO orphans whom we have been supporting for the past few years. The funding provides education from September 2021-December 2022. We are working with Willy on a “learning partner” system that will pair each KCDO child with a US student, to encourage friendship and success.
John, from Von Steuben high school in Chicago, sent us 100 beautifully written and illustrated books from his French 2 students, representing their final projects. We are looking for French-speaking children who will enjoy these books.
We are excited to learn that Mark and Sheku Mansaray will be meeting with MIT students to discuss 3D printing of protheses for amputees residing in Sierra Leone. This is part of the learning center project Mark and Sheku initiated last year, and to which we were able to contribute. Being able to create protheses on location in Sierra Leone would be invaluable to the many victims of the Civil War. We hope to be able to help with this initiative.
And our last summer endeavor that we continue to work on: funding a cow for the KCDO orphans, so they can have milk. We’re almost there! Maybe we can send a cow by Christmas!
Contact us if you are interesting in assisting us as we move into fall. We hope to hear from you!
When I joined the Wonderland BookSavers team in 2017, I was the only member who didn’t live in Connecticut, and we immediately knew that one of the best ways I could support our efforts would be to expand our reach for acquiring books. One of the first schools in Brooklyn that I called was Berkeley Carroll, and from the very beginning the librarians there have been eager to help our cause! Berkeley Carroll is a K-12 school with a big heart and a lot of libraries (!) and Ms. Kris Hartley-Maneri, Ms. Kendra Barbary, Ms. Briar Sauro, Ms. Mimi Stauber, and Ms. Anna Murphy are the most wonderful librarian-heroes that Wonderland BookSavers could ever ask for!
Every year, these amazing librarians cull through their incredible collections and designate any surplus or remaindered books for Wonderland BookSavers and then carefully pack them into heavy-duty book boxes. Because there are four libraries in the three different buildings, this usually means my sister and I do about 4 huge pick-ups every year!
Since it’s Brooklyn and there are a lot of stairs and usually only one small service elevator in each building, the equally wonderful Mr. Hicham and his maintenance staff, help bring the books out to the street and then we load as many into our car at a time as we can! This takes a lot of coordinating and a lot of time and we are so grateful to everyone at Berkeley Carroll for making this happen!
So far, books from Berkeley Carroll have gone to schools and community centers in need right here in NYC and Connecticut, as well as the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota, and, with the help of the US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, all the way to Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Somalia. Wonderland BookSavers is a community that can only operate with a lot of helping hands along the way, and we are so lucky to have the amazing and generous staff of the Berkeley Carroll School on our team.
My grandmother has a sign in her kitchen with a quote that’s attributed to Gandhi that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I recently read that this famous quote is actually a paraphrase and what Gandhi actually said was, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”
What I like about this original quote is the greater emphasis on how each individual change can in fact effect a world of individual changes and that is exactly what is so amazing about Wonderland BookSavers. We’re all just doing one small part but together we can be a world of change.
Thank you Ms. Kris, Ms. Kendra, Ms. Briar, Ms. Mimi, Ms. Anna and all the Berkeley Carroll staff for working so hard to be a world of change with us!
This year, upon returning to New Beginnings Family Academy with 3,000 books to contribute to their summer reading program, I had the opportunity to reflect on the amazing journey I have traveled as co-founder, and now President of the Wonderland BookSavers Inc.
As a young and creative child, reading provided a window into thousands of fantastical worlds unbound by logic, physics, or everyday problems. This love of reading inspired my friends and I to take the modest first step of what would later become one of the important decisions of our lives: We started a book club.
I was only 8 at the time, and although reading exciting and compelling books such as Linda Sue Park’s, “A Single Shard,” with my three closest friends was wonderful, we felt like it wasn’t enough. With the passion we possessed for reading, we knew we had to do more, we wanted to live some of the values these stories engendered. As it turned out, “A Single Shard,” would contain a quote that came to define our journey, “One hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.” If we had imagined then that within the following decade our book club would become a fully registered 501c3 international charity, donating over 825,000 books and thousands of other supplies to impoverished children and adults throughout the world, I’m certain we never would have embarked upon such an impossible-sounding journey. Starting with, as Linda Sue Park writes, “One hill,” we began slowly, gradually picking up speed.
Walking into our local library, at age 8, I never could have imagined how the boxes of books that lay at my feet would change my life entirely, “What are they doing on the floor?” I asked. The librarian responded, “These books are out of circulation, as nobody has checked them out in a long time. They are going to be shredded into pulp and sent to a newspaper.” I was horrified. How could these books, or any books, deserve to be shredded? I begged to take them home with me, where I could find them a new home.
I soon found a charter school, New Beginnings Family Academy, that was requesting books. Together, my team and I wheeled in a large donation, 685 beautiful children’s books. We brought our books to the school library, where we saw one empty shelf after another. We knew our books would be well appreciated. We were given a tour of the school; the school children, our age, swarmed around us. They were as excited to meet us as were to meet them! This was the first of many moments to come where I truly recognized how my love of books could literally introduce me to new worlds around me.
That day, Wonderland BookSavers: Inspired by Literature was born. We set a goal of donating 1,500 books. With 685 books already donated, and our tagline, “Inspired by Literature,” we felt invincible. Over the coming months we would reach our goal multiple times. We hosted book drives at schools, churches, and libraries, giving speeches to hundreds of people at a time. Although the crowd before me and the sound of my own voice booming through the auditoriums often filled me with trepidation, I knew that if I could simply inspire my audience, I could make a real change in someone’s life.
The results were astounding, and with each barrier passed we found that we became more confident in ourselves, understood our mission more clearly and as the Wonderland BookSavers grew and matured, and began connecting with children and communities around the world, so too, we were maturing, becoming more confident and more knowledgeable both about the power of literacy and the power of friendship.
Today, as truly as we are touching and impacting the lives of others, equally, others from across the globe are impacting our lives. The Wonderland BookSavers and our team are growing up together.
We remain so grateful to all who have joined us along the way. Thank you!
Mark called to let us know that the container is being loaded mid-April, heading for a new country: Somaliland. Our garage was literally overflowing with boxes and bags in every corner. We could not have fit another book if we tried. We were ready to pack up the truck and send our books, toys, school supplies and clothing on to new homes, children and families!
We called our friends, Paul, Charles and brother Reid, and we began loading the truck.
Mark and Mom kept sorting and boxing while we loaded the truck.
Finally, we were done: 17,500 books and so many toys, stuffed animals, clothes and supplies!
We look forward to sharing the pictures of our items when the shipping container arrives in Somaliland, many months from now!
We are thrilled to report that despite schools being closed and our community being on Covid lockdown, Amelia and Mason have been diligently gathering and donating toys, books, water bottles and school supplies throughout the winter.
Each time we return home we discover new treasures waiting on the doorstep or front porch!
We are so grateful to both Amelia and Mason (and mom Joy!) for their generosity and commitment to helping children around the world. We know that these gifts will be truly appreciated by the children who will receive them. Thank you so much to Amelia, Mason, and the many many local children who have contributed to our efforts.
This winter, in partnership with our friends Bob and Manning from USACF, we split into teams to build several solar powered digital libraries that we then shared with our partners in the Kyamaganda Communityof the Lwengo District of Uganda.
These libraries are stored on a miniature computer, a Raspberry PI. Bob and Manning, and some WBS kids, compiled the material. The books which are stored on the raspberry PI include African stories, classic British and American literature currently in the public domain, textbooks in the subjects of math, science, history and health, Khan Academy lessons, Wikipedia excerpts, and Health and Agriculture texts relevant to African life. In total, there are 1,000’s of books or lessons available to either view or download.
The raspberry PI has a signal range of between 25-50 feet. Any WIFI enabled device can pick up the signal and have access to the material. This is very important in areas that have no internet, as it provides books and resources that are otherwise unavailable. Parents can download books and lessons for children unable to attend school. Using a projector, teachers can provide lessons to an entire class.
Here is a report from Mark regarding the success in Zimbabwe:
“I got an update from Dominic Muntanga about the status of education in Zimbabwe last week. Because of Covid-19 and a teacher’s job action over wages (Zim is in the midst of a runaway inflation spiral), schools are closed. When they will reopen is anyone’s guess. Most rural children have no access to books. Most learning is on hold. Dominic wondered what could be done.
Enter the Bridge Pi. We came up with a plan to work with church congregations and urban centers. Moyo (our Zimbabwean expert on the Pi) would bring his Bridge Pi to a designated location on a specific date. Parents, relatives and friends would come with the cell phones and if they got within 50 meters of the Bridge Pi, they would be able to download a variety of books onto their cell phones. Suddenly children with no books could read books on their family’s cell phones. What was amazing was how easily this was put into motion.
Its potential is enormous in every community across Africa and elsewhere.
It’s like turning on a light in a dark room.
Enormous thanks to Bob Rollins and Manning Sutton who developed the Bridge Pi and are continually adapting it to the needs of different countries.”
We decided to begin our KCDO introduction of these digital libraries with 3 units. Two are powered by electricity and one has the option of being solar powered. We divided up the assembly and testing of these units between three families, this shared both the cost (approximately $130 each) and the work (very simple).
Brooks made the first one, following internet directions and additional directions from Manning.
Then our friends in California, Iris and Noah, made the next one. Each of us tested our units. It was amazing to see all of the digital options pop up on our computer and phones, all powered by this one tiny computer. Henry, Ella and Wills made the third. Theirs has optional solar power.
Finally, we were able to send the first two digital libraries to Willy at KCDO in Uganda. It took him a few tries, but Brooks spoke to Willy on WhatsApp and so did Bob and Manning. Willy and Brooks rewrote the directions in a simpler form. Willy said, “It’s working!”
Next Willy held an all-day conference at the KCDO library. He brought tech support and the heads of the three target test schools, as well as students from the schools so that everyone could test the system, see what works and make a plan to incorporate the materials into the school system. The teachers and students offered some suggestions which Bob and Manning are working on, such as incorporating Uganda specific school books. The KCDO report on this event can be read here.
Brooks will test Henry’s solar raspberry PI. Bob and Manning may update the SD card to include Ugandan specific information, and we will send this third mini-computer on to KCDO. Several of these mini-computers are already successfully deployed in Zimbabwe, we are hopeful that we can have similar success in Uganda.
Looking for a winter simple activity?
Contact us if you would like to build a digital library for the Kyamaganda community. We look forward to hearing from you!
This blog post is brought to us directly from our Ugandan partners, Kyamaganda Community Development Organization, in the Lwengo District. Through our partnership with KCDO, SolarBags, and YOUR generous support through our GoFundMe page, and other fund raising efforts, TOGETHER we provided this wonderful opportunity of creating the availability clean water to these most vulnerable children. Thank you ALL so much for your support!
Compiled by Wakimwere Arnold, field officer, KCDO
During our home visit in the household, we found out that most of our clients get water from different sources like boreholes, harvesting it from rain, wells, streams, ponds among others. Through the assessment done by the staffs Kyamaganda Community Development Organization(KCDO), most of the households in sub-county of Kisekka access water for drinking from streams and ponds which expose them to taking contaminated water thus likely to be exposed to water born diseases like typhoid fever, is well-known in extremely poor parts of developing nations; it’s estimated that up to 20 million people worldwide suffer from the illness each year. It’s spread through contaminated food, unsafe water, and poor sanitation, and it is highly contagious, Cholera which is commonly found in humanitarian emergencies or marginalized villages where poverty and poor sanitation are rampant. The disease is spread through contaminated water and causes severe dehydration and diarrhea. Cholera can be fatal within days or even hours of exposure to the bacteria, but only 1 in 10 people will develop life-threatening symptoms, dysentery also a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhea as well as blood or mucus in the stool. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites in unsafe food and water, Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by consuming contaminated food and water, rural communities with poor sanitation and hygiene management are most exposed to the disease.
Photo below shows children fetching water in a stream in kisekka sub – county
Following the observation in the introduction above, with support from USA-KCDO Partners Kyamaganda Community Development Organization (KCDO) implemented Health Systems Strengthening Project in two sub-county Kisekka sub – county and Kinoni Town Council targeting households infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable Status. This was achieved through working with different stake holds I.e health centers, Village Health Teams(VHTs) Community Development Officers(CDOs)Local Council Leaders (LCs) Para-Social Workers(PSWs) and Volunteers that deliver comprehensive services of Health and treatments to affected and infected households by HIV/AIDS and other Economic empowerment and Water and Sanitation to different vulnerable people in the community.
A total number of 100 household were reached and received solar bag for domestic use.
KCDO staff demonstrating how to use solar bag. KCDO staff handing over solar bag to a client
Since these Solar Bag is a sunlight-activated reusable water purifier that destroys or reduces the broadest range of contaminants without pumping, electricity, chemicals or replaceable components. This has reduced the spread of various water born diseases as the members are able to purify water to kill all the germs and Chemical Contaminants like; Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides, Cleaning Solvents, Petrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Pathogens- Bacteria, Viruses, Protozoa before drinking through simply placing the Solar Bag in the sun for a few hours, and enjoy purified water.
While caring out a follow up and monitoring on the usage of this purifiers in the community and household being supplied with the water solar bags, we observed that these water solar bags have helped the individuals so much, in the way that individuals use this solar bags on the daily basis to purify water for drinking, they extended their sincere appreciation to kcdo and our partners at large for bringing up such a wonderful idea of protecting and living a health life. One of the household of lutaaya jamewo upon reaching there on the ground, we found children happily looking on as the solar bag full of water placed on the Jeri can.
KCDO staff conducting a follow up in kyasonko village kisekka sub- county
KCDO staff and a child from the home steady taking water purified using a solar bag.
The needs of OVC or otherwise made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS are cross cutting as many of them dramatically escalates from economic, health and household social issues. It would be necessary for KCDO and partners to jointly continue to work with local families, communities, and other organizations in a similar setting to focus their program and policy development efforts on ensuring the survival of these OVC households in breaking the cycle of poverty, despair, in regard this can make positive and measurable contributions to the improved health, safety, and happiness of the HIV+ (OVC) in the most appropriate environments for their development. We extend our warmly appreciation to our partner who donated us the purifiers to improve on the life of the people in rural based communities of kisekka and kinoni and ready to continue working with them in any way, God bless.