Next Steps: ETC@GDPU in September

Spectators at the 2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

Highlights of the month

  • Gulu PWDs Electronic and other members of Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team took part in a National Sport Gala for Persons with Disabilities organized by Uganda Paralympic Committee and won! See this earlier post.
  • Members taking part in ETC@GDPU report significant increase in income as a result of their training
  • An in-depth Reflection Meeting will really help us all evaluate what has worked in the pilot project, and what has not, and where to go from here.
Reflection Meeting in Gulu

Skills Training Report

The ETC@GDPU project officer followed up recent trainings in Omoro and Gulu, to ensure that the pilot business enterprises are building their capacities in areas such as:

  • Business plan development,
  • Skills training
  • Conflict management and resolution.

The youth are now actively participating in the training programme and 75% are reporting that their levels of income are increasing because:

  1. Their area of coverage has increased
  2. They can now repair more things compared to when they started project.

The training program is running up to the end of October and the GDPU project officer is following up to ensure that they are getting the required skills and that relevant knowledge is imparted

Hairdressing Training in Acet

Hairdressing at Acet

Five members of Nyeko Rac Hairdressing and Salon at Acet Centre are trained in areas they need. These are:

  • pencil plaiting
  • styling and twisting hair
  • dread locks
  • free hand.

Savings are being made among members of Nyeko Rach hairdressing,

Conflicts are being resolved among members

Challenges

  • Some materials for hairdressing are now available at Nyeko Rac Hair Beauty Salon at Acet, although lack of material for weaves, chemicals etc
Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu

Gulu Pwds Electronic

The ETC@GDPU project officer has reported before about difficulties with Gulu PWDs, their lack of cohesion as a group, their disinterest in saving money and in training for anything but phone repair.

Training is going on for two months from 11th September to 19th November 2017, aimed at addressing problems areas where they feel they face difficulties:

  • Discovered the use of charcoal stove for soldering gargets such as Radio, TV, phones etc
  • Changing/repair of mouth piece, charging system and screens
  • Discovered the alternative for Blower Machine by using candle when there is no electricity

Challenges

  • The training program was affected by the National Sports Gala which took place from 25th to 30th September 2017.
  • Village savings and loan association (VSLA) is not active among Gulu PWDS electronics members although they attended training for VSLA
  • Business location for PWD electronic is neither favourable or easily accessible, it is hard for them to keep customers appliances because they operate their business in a corridor.
  • Some phones are complicated to repair, spare parts are not available for most bought in the area, especially Chinese phones.
  • Unlike their business competitors they lack software to unlock phones
  • Business is not growing for electronics
  • Limited knowledge and skills on other electronic appliances such TV, Radio, DVD players, Smart Phones and Amplifiers
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable
Akera Roberts, Individual Business Enterprise, Electronics and Repair, Gulu

Akera Roberts

Radio repair is doing well for Akera Robert, Rubanga Na Electronics business plan was successfully developed and completed by Akera Robert and GDPU project officer

Challenge

  • Security for his place of work is still an issue, Akera Robert still operates under the veranda
Akello Catherine and Florence are being trained in making V necked sweaters

Knitting and Sweater Weaving

Sweater weaving is doing well, they get contracts from schools and local community members. Support training is aimed at improving their quality of work and building customers trust, training area for knitting is:

  • joining using sewing machine
  • making V shape sweater
  • designing sweaters.
Learning to Make V Necked Sweaters, A customer checking on his newly made garment

Challenge

  • High-level absenteeism from the instructor for knitting and sweater weaving might be affecting the positive development of the programme.
  • Customers take long to pick their items
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable

 

Reflection Meeting

Conducted by GDPU project officer and ETC and Project Coordinator GDPU to check on the impact of ETC project in Gulu and Omoro District.

What has worked?

The local community attitude towards PWDs is that they are best known for leather work. Yet as this and the YDP proved, they are able to do other income generating activities such hairdressing, motorcycle repair, electronic repair and maintenance.

  • Skills training has improved the ‘offer’ of all the business groups
  • Active in repair of electronic gadgets, hairdressing and sweater weaving, i.e. businesses are growing although some are slower than others.
  • Record keeping is now observed in all enterprises, learnt how to balance books of account because of financial literacy received during the ETC project.
  • Learnt to communicate effectively with customers, most of the youth enterprise members had bad communication skills that made them lose customers but the capacity building trainings offered by the ETC@GDPU project has improved this aspect.
  • Learnt how to deal with large number of customers, greatly improved customer services by use of first come first serve.
Reflection Meeting Gulu

Challenges: Solutions and the Way Forward

The reported rise in members incomes is very welcome, how can we continue this increase? Which parts of the programme are working and what do we need to do to improve them as part of the pilot programme and for future programme planning? Diversification and widening the ‘offer’ of each group, further investigation into sources of investment and increasing the self-confidence of members could all play a part. As could:

  • Linking the enterprise to other service providers available in their location
  • Having a by law on mandatory savings
  • Inclusion saving for disabled and non-disabled
  • Continuous follow-up and support from GDPU project staff
  • Further tailor-made refresher training in specific areas e.g. Repair of modern phones, TV radio etc
  • More advertising using posters
  • Enterprise members to carry out market survey to check on the prices of commodities and services to be comparable with other enterprises and avoid over pricing.

    GDPU Co-ordinator Conducting the Reflection Meeting

Apologies

Apologies for the late posting of this months news, also we (the UK founders of ETC@GDPU) had  hoped to be flying out to Gulu at the end of this month to discuss and evaluate the pilot phase and how to move on to the full project. Sadly, Mark was involved in a motorbike accident in the UK just weeks before departure. Although he will be OK his mobility is restricted for a few months. Ironically Mark clocked up 12,000 kilometres on a motorbike around Gulu and district with only a few bumps and scrapes, riding in the UK is far more dangerous. If you are a car driver, please look properly before you pull out of a side road! However we hope to carry on the project development by Skype in the next few months and return to Gulu in February.

The safer roads in Gulu District!

 

Gulu PWDs Electronic win again

The Triumphant Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team

Wheelchair basketball has long been a feature at GDPU. From 25th to 30th September 2017 Gulu PWDs Electronic, one of the three pilot groups on the ETC@GDPU project, along with other members of Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team took part in a National Sport Gala for Persons with Disabilities.

Spectators at the 2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

The Gala was organized by The Uganda Paralympic Committee and hosted by Gulu district. They took part in wheelchair race, wheelchair basketball and sitting volley ball.

Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team in Action at Kaunda Ground, Gulu.

Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Club kept their national trophy by defeating arch-rivals Kampala Wheelchair Basketball Club 26-17. The exciting final of the Uganda National Paralympic Games in Wheelchair Basketball, held at Kaunda Grounds in Gulu, was witnessed by chief guest Kameda Kazuaki, the Japanese ambassador to Uganda.

The Japanese Ambassador at National Sports Gala, Gulu.

The Ugandan national paper, the Daily Monitor appears to believe that Japan might have a future role in training Ugandan Paralympic athletes, GDPU are following this up; you never know!

Awarding the medals at 2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

Gulu Pwds Electronics members of that winning team were: Ojara Charles, Ocira Richard, Okwonga Charles, Akera Robert, Oloya Kenneth and Omony Patrick, congratulations to them and everyone else who took part.

Congratulations to Gulu PWDS Electronic

 

Next Steps: ETC @ GDPU in August

Project Officer Faruk Musema working in Acet

During August, the ETC @ GDPU Project Officer and Project Leader followed up on business plan development, record keeping and conflict management making sure that they were being implemented by each business enterprise. A busy training programme continued and proposed activities for September look equally focused.

Village Savings and Loan Association pilot training session at Acet centre, Omoro District, August 2017

Training

Skills training were offered in Hairdressing, Electronic Repair and Maintenance and Knitting & Sweater Weaving in Omoro Acet Centre and Gulu Municipality targeting 4 members of NYEKO RAC HAIRDRESSING AND COSMETOLOGY, 2 members of RWOT AYE TWERO KNITTING and 6 Members of GULU PWDS ELECTRONICS REPAIR & MAINTENANCE.

Training: Village Savings and Loan Associations 

Trainings in Village Savings and Loan Associations (micro finance) were carried out. VSLA pass books were distributed to the saving groups created by each enterprise to encourage the culture of savings in their enterprise.

Training: Conflict Resolution

Training in Group Dynamics under Conflict Resolutions was carried out in Acet.

Group Dynamics under Conflict Resolution Training in Acet, August 2017

Challenges

But as the initial stages are completed, challenges were registered by the project officer during his visits. These were: poor attendance; high expectation for money (Especially refusal to attend meetings without payment see Sitting Fees below)); difficult attitudes; skills gaps; luck of trust from customers etc.

Challenges: Gulu

These challenges were particularly noticeable in Gulu, with high levels of absenteeism, lack of commitment to customers and work, lack of skills in: radio; TV; video decks; speakers; computer repairs. Members only specialise in phone repair which does not bring in enough income. Finding a qualified instructor to train Gulu PWDs in electronic repair and maintenance has not yet been resolved.

Akera Roberts, Individual Business Enterprise on the pilot programme, Gulu.

Although the Project Officer suggested their fellow disabled electrician (Akera Robert), who has all the skills they want, members were not interested. The P O believes that there is no unity and love among PWDs in Gulu municipality, that is the reason why most of them are not successful, because of the differences amongst them.

Gulu PWDs, Electronics and Repair: repairing a phone.

Challenges: Sitting Fees

Sitting Fees (or payment for attending trainings or meetings) are a great example of the unintended consequences of well intended actions. I believe that sitting fees were originally paid during the conflict, as a means of quickly getting money directly to those who badly needed it and bypassing those who would take a substantial cut. But now, demand for sitting fees and refusal to attend without payment is a constant problem. Most NGOs refused to pay sitting fees because the payments eat up small budgets and badly distort training sessions. The people you really need to reach either refuse to turn up or invitations are issued in turn to those who have not yet been paid a fee or to those who are powerful enough to demand that they always get one. Sessions are either taken up with endless arguments as to why participants should be paid substantial sums, or on the odd occasion where fees are paid, participants leave, in body or mind, once they have been paid because they feel their work had been done; either way nothing is achieved.

Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu

Challenges: Solutions?

The only surprise is that the challenges for ECT @ GDPU had not begun earlier, these are all difficulties that are common on any project of this type in this sort of context.

There is no simple solution, this culture (Sitting Fees especially) is deeply embedded and will take years to change. But we intend to try some of the approaches listed below and begin that process

Thinking about the simplest non-financial reward systems is an important part of the pilot programme. Actually, faced with this problem during the earlier Youth Development Programme we found that:

  • educational games
  • sport or other competitions
  • Cultural activities, eg dance and drama
  • and of course, food.

Were all good ways of bringing people to meetings and making them engage without concentrating solely on the money.

  • Regular VSLA meetings can also be a useful time to carry out training.
VSLA Training, GDPU August 2017

Challenges:  Solutions/ Communications and Mentors

Group dynamics, and communication could be the key that unlocks this door.

During the VSLA sessions it was noted that members will not take leadership roles, even just for the workshop; leadership training as part of a drive to improve self-esteem might be worth following up too.

Relationship between the groups, their customers and skills trainers (especially the Gulu PWDS) are a challenge that could be met by finding the right mentors/ role models to show members where their hard work might lead to in the future. Groups need to see why they are doing what they are doing, how the rewards are not immediate but are worth waiting for; could mentors help in that aim?

Village Savings and loan Association Training at Acet center Omoro District August 2017

Conclusion

None of the challenges noted above are unusual, they are to be expected in this context and in a project of this type. There is no need to feel downhearted, it is important to remember that this is still the pilot phase, there are still opportunities to work on many different approaches and be experimental; many exciting possibilities ahead. We must keep pushing on well!