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Report from Aaron Silver-Pells—BBI Volunteer in Kyarumba, Uganda

Posted: Wed, September 07, 2016 | By: Volunteer

Hi folks!

I’m here in Kyarumba village, in Uganda, [as a volunteer with Brighter Brains Institute activities] writing to you all from across the internet to try to convince you to part with some of your hard-earned money for brighter brains so we can do some good here in rural Uganda.

1. The money goes towards productive activities; even though the people are poor, everyone is committed towards putting their time and money into productive economic activities that will make them money. Many of the youth who are not interested in higher education are learning carpentry and other skills.

2. Your money goes a LONG way here in Uganda. On average, Americans and Europeans , even your average gas station job, clerk or fast-food worker is making a whole lot more money than a family in Uganda because we live in a more high-tech industrialized part of the economy and they are rural and “unskilled,” this is compounded by the strength of dollar and euro in comparison to the Ugandan Shilling.

How much you may ask?

Well the average salary in Uganda is about 1 to 2 thousand American dollars. While I was here I was able to exchange 3 dollars for 10,000 Ugandan shillings. Brighter Brains can build a classroom for a little over a thousand dollars. Other uses that the money can go towards is paying the very dedicated teaching staff, getting animals for productive activities to sustain the schools, and getting books and equipment for the school.

3. There are no middlemen. Everyone at Brighter Brains is working on a volunteer basis which means that there is no hidden bureaucrats or administrators who are living high off the hog while the people of Uganda suffer. Other charities may have highly paid staff who get paid first before the poor of the third world. What you see is really what you get with us.

4. We are working with “known problems” for the most part. The people of rural Uganda where I am have lots of problems, but they are problems which are known and which something can be done about. Lack of capital, education and infrastructure means that it’s hard to pull yourself out of poverty here. Because the religious people got to them first, they have no voices offering an alternative to large, male-dominated family life with God at the center of their intellectual Universe. People are isolated much of the time in villages and must walk 3-5 miles to get water; with such large families and such an isolated existence, most families are stuck in a cycle of large families and poverty; a cycle hard to get out of. Malaria, typhoid, malnutrition are all known diseases which we have medication for, but the average Ugandan cannot afford the medication. The HIV rate is 30%. Most houses and families still don’t have electricity or plumbing.

And, of course, there are limited educational and career opportunities for the youth. For many, the written word is a vast unknown; their families don’t have books and if they do it is likely to be the Bible and only the Bible.

5. We’re helping many of the most vulnerable. There are lots of orphans here in Uganda, because there has been a history of violence, because there are so many diseases and accidents and because there is limited infrastructure and government intervention. Even those children who are not orphans grow up in households where there is limited opportunity for intellectual development and where subsistence farming of coffee and bananas are the facts of life. Many of the children are disabled and the teachers will walk miles just to visit them and give personal lessons. That’s the level of dedication that we are dealing with here.

6. They love us. Seriously, despite the history of colonialism and the fact they know we Westerners have much more than them, everyone I have met here has been extremely friendly and curious about America and the rest of the world. Many have talked to me about how they dream of going to America or Europe but can’t due to the difficulties in getting visas. I’ve never felt so admired in my life as I do here.

So that’s my plea. I hope that you the reader will be motivated to donate some money and maybe look into the situation a little. The truth of the matter is that those of us with a little money can have adversely large positive impacts upon the world, especially here in the poorest parts. We really are improving lives here and it’s really the truth that even a very little money can go a long, long way.


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