January 23, 2010

Advance Work

Posted in Advance Trip tagged , , , at 8:28 am by kampala2capetown

Advance work is an important piece of the road show concept. Every major politician has an advance team which stays one step ahead of the candidate and his or her campaign tour bus. When you see the candidate on TV in a small town bar enjoying beers with the locals, you can be sure someone from the advance team was there a few days before, quietly figuring out exactly which bar stool the candidate should sit on.

Months ago we formed the idea to travel from Kampala to Cape Town during the 30 days of the World Cup and celebrate technology innovation and social entrepreneurship. We decided to dream big and plan for community events in six different countries.  Now, to make our dream a reality we cannot simply just hop in a truck at the start of the World Cup and think we will be successful. So, the hard work to plan Kampala 2 Cape Town begins!

Divine intervention may have literally helped determine the site for the Kampala show. A member of the advance team traveled from the US with two huge boxes containing donated sewing machines for a community group near Kampala.  When the advance team stopped by to deliver the machines to the Kamwokya Vocational Training Centre (KVTC) just outside Kampala, they quickly realized it was the perfect environment for a Kampala 2 Cape Town Road Show event.

At KVTC we were met by Mildred Mayanga, who is the lead instructor for the tailoring program. She showed us her workshop and described how 35 students each semester learn how to use sewing machines and make a variety of clothes and designs. After they graduate the students can either go into business for themselves or work for an industrial company. The program fit within the mission of the road show: inspiring youth to utilize a technology and improve their livelihood with it.

Culinary arts is another instructional department at the vocational center, and through this unit KVTC teaches young people how to run a catering business by placing them within KVTC’s own catering venture. The unit employs 15 individuals and feeds over 1,000 people a week. The staff told us they were interested in learning how to maintain their own urban garden to grow ingredients for their meals and inquired into how technology might be able to cut down on their biggest cost: cooking charcoal.

In cooking their large meals, KVTC goes through 1,400 kilograms of charcoal a month, at a cost of over $1,000 USD. Wood Charcoal is the primary cooking fuel used at not only KVTC by also by the 50,000 residents within the surrounding community. It is hard to estimate exactly how many trees are chopped down each month to fuel the meals.

Our team immediately introduced one of the technologies we hope to showcase on the road show, an agricultural waste to cooking charcoal system.  When we told the KVTC staff a little bit about the technology, they showed us their collection agriculture waste, laying in a heap near their kitchen. The friendly chairman of the program, Charles, said he would be the first in line to learn how they could turn their agriculture waste into cooking fuel so he the process teach students, save money for the catering unit, potentially start a new business, and along the way, save some trees in his country!

We finished our introduction to KVTC be trekking deep into the community and visiting Susan, a graduate of the tailoring program. She is now totally independent and self-sufficient, creating 14 pieces of clothing a day and selling it to a store in a local market. It is success stories like Susan that our show hopes to create.

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