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Orphans Planting Trees! tackling two problems simultaneously in western Uganda

Posted: Thu, September 15, 2016 | By: Mini-Projects



In Uganda, 13% of the children in the western rural region are orphans. Many lost their parents to AIDS, malaria, civil war, or accidents; others were abandoned, due to poverty or imprisonment.

Orphans are the poorest of the poor - defined as “vulnerables” because they often end up as prostitutes, criminals, drug-addicted street kids, child soldiers, or trafficked slaves.

Brighter Brains Institute (BBI), a non-profit in San Francisco’s East Bay, has been assisting these orphans in multiple ways. It established free clinics and provided food, clothing, shoes and books at Nyakiyumbu Widows Orphanage Humanist School, Rays of Light Orphanage Humanist School, and Kasanga-Kaghema Orphanage Humanist School; it built - brick-by-brick- the “world’s first atheist orphanage” (BiZoHa); and it’s raised funds to pay school tuition for 150+ needy orphans in the region.

BBI’s latest campaign solves multiple problems at once; it’s “Orphans Planting Trees” project is humanitarian and environmentally-conscious. Parentless children desperately need education + money; BBI’s unique forestry plan provides both.

Rays of LIght Orphanage Humanist School
Rays of LIght Orphanage Humanist School

The Ruwenzori Mountain region that BBI operates in is suffering deforestation, due to the rapidly-rising population. (Ugandans jumped from 4 million in 1960 to 35 million today) Hillsides stripped for firewood, lumber, and charcoal are eroding fast, weakening agricultural production and destroying wildlife habitation. To preserve Uganda’s ‘breadbasket’ fertility, thousands of trees need to be planted. Otherwise, the luxuriant ‘Pearl of Africa’ will devolve into barren wasteland, like vast areas of neighboring Ethiopia.

Three hundred (300) seedlings can be purchased from Uganda nurseries for only $25 - that’s 8.8 cents for each future tree.

BBI’s save-the-jungle strategy is to hire 30 orphans aged 13+ who need their school tuition paid for. They’ll plant 300 trees each; 9,000 trees total. They’ll be trained first, and their horticultural work will be inspected; we need every stem to grow strong and tall.

Trees will be planted around the schools, and in the now-barren hills that surround Kyaruma. Trees for planting are pine, eucalyptus, and “Kasigha-sigha”

The budget looks like this:

$750 — 9,000 trees (30 orphans planting 300 trees each)
$1,380 — school tuition (30 orphans owing $46 each) *
$40 — forestry instructor salary
$50 — Uganda project manager & photographer salary
$55 — banking fees
$65 — tools, equipment (shovels, trowels, buckets, water)
$360 — orphan salaries (30 orphans time $12 each) **

* Orphanage schools are chronically cash-strapped because the orphan’s guardians are reluctant to pay their tuition. Providing this payment solidifies the finances and morale of the schools, because guarantees teacher wages. Orphans for this project will be employed from Rays of Light Orphanage Humanist School, Vision Care Humanist School, Mughete Junior Humanist School, and Kasanga-Kaghema Orphanage Humanist School.

** Paying each orphan $12 to plant 300 trees is not ‘slave labor.’ It will take the orphans 2-3 days to plant the trees. $4-$6/day is an excellent wage in this region of Uganda. Plus, its anticipated that the entire village will assist in the planting.

Want to help? Donate Below:

$30 (100 trees)
$60 (200 trees)
$90 (300 trees)

All donors will receive:

1) tax deductible receipt
2) photo documentation of the project
3) personalized Thank You card from an orphan

Project is supervised by:

Ithungu “Mama” Teddy (community activist - BuKonzo Joint Cooperative Union - Kyarumba, Uganda)
Joseph Kasibirehe (community activist - BuKonzo Joint Cooperative Union - Kyarumba, Uganda)
Hank Pellissier (program director, Brighter Brains Institute, Piedmont, California)



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Brighter Brains Institute is a 501(c)3 non­profit, tax­exempt organization in the United States. Our EIN is #46­3953105.

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