Monday, January 30, 2012

Director of Communications: Rebecca Brown

Hi all! I want to invite you to travel with us to Uganda this summer 2012... so, who's in? C'mon... you know you want to go... Uganda is calling your name. =) Ha!

Truly... to those of you who are thinking, considering, or contemplating traveling with us... now's the time to make a decision! =)

Let me share a little story with you...

About a year ago, I decided to take my husband, mother-in-law, and a few friends with me on a two-week trip to Jinja. Not only did I want to be in Uganda working hands-on with our grassroots organizations, but I wanted my family and friends to experience the joy in my work too. So, I dragged them along. =) And they did GREAT WORK! I was so thankful for their eager attitudes and willing service and how they gave 100% to the work FOM is doing in Uganda. That was a trip that I will treasure forever because of the beauty of getting to experience it with family and friends.

So much of my work with Fount of Mercy falls on the "stateside" side of things... managing communication, logistics, work proposals, etc. It's such a gift when I get to actually travel and be a part of the "hands-on" work in Uganda. Not that I don't absolutely LOVE the work I get to do here. =) But, I do want to encourage you to travel with us... and to bring your friends! =)

For those of you who have the time... go.

Do it.

Take 2 weeks and travel to Jinja and do something new... something life-changing for you... and for those we work with.

Thanks in advance... =)

Rebecca Brown
Director of Communications
Fount of Mercy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Executive Director: Michelle Averna

For those of you unaware, Michelle is part of the heartbeat behind FOM and it's vision. In truth, she began FOM and has carried it to it's current place with passion and incredible leadership. Below is just a whisper of the many things she does for FOM; however, it is important for us to highlight those who invest in our work and keep it moving. And, she is a BIG piece of the movement.

"I started Fount of Mercy close to 6 years ago. Wow, time goes by so fast! The journey of acting as Fount of Mercy's administrator has been an honor filled with learning curves, lessons learned and so many opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am privileged to work with an amazing staff and board who truly own the mission of Fount and keep the wheels of Fount not only spinning but focused, intentional and inventive. Most of my time with Fount is spent working on maintaining our non-profit status, keeping Fount in financial compliance, overseeing program equivalencies, developing our board, fundraising and casting vision for the educational development program. My goal is to wear my many "hats" gracefully.

Michelle Averna
Executive Director and Interim Director of Educational Development

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vanessa: Community Health Initiative Director

Last January, Fount of Mercy's Community Health Initiative (CHI) launched its pilot program for "Girls Camp." Girls Camp is a two-day course where local girls, ages 9-31, come to learn about all things female.

In Ugandan culture, it is taboo to speak about such topics cross-generationally, leaving young girls to rely on peers for important information. As one would imagine, this information is often times inaccurate and even dangerous. The pilot program was very successful, reaching around 100 girls with empowering information.

This May, I plan to arrive in Uganda for an 8 month stay furthering the work that has been started. This will require a significant amount of fundraising. Our goal is $17,000 in total. We are very excited to see this program reach its full potential, empowering young women with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and improve their quality of life. The main program work I'll be focusing on will be Girls Camp, women's health, community health and teaching through drama skits.

Written by Vanessa Crowley
Fount of Mercy's Community Health Initiative Director

Monday, January 9, 2012

International Development Director: Lori Acton

For the past two and half years I have made my home in Jinja, Uganda. My primary role is to function as Fount of Mercy's Lead Administrator in Uganda. I maintain our foreign NGO status in Uganda, our bank account, Ugandan board meetings, and relationships with the local organizations that we work with. I also oversee the grants that we give to organizations to ensure accountability as well as supervise Fount of Mercy workers and volunteers while in Uganda. Most of my job is related to the details of operating a foreign NGO.

I am so blessed have such a wonderful group of people working with me in Uganda. Currently, our in-country team includes our Vocational Training Director, Tara, her very helpful husband, Grace, two Ugandan staff members, one long-term intern, and me. =) In 2012, we will be adding at least two new long-term volunteers. We are so grateful for our staff and volunteers. These added hands have GREATLY increased the amount of work we have been able to do, and is one of the main reasons we are speeding along as we have been.

Written by Lori Acton
Fount of Mercy's International Development Director

Monday, January 2, 2012

Basic Business Class

Women in Uganda are responsible, first and foremost, for the food security within their household. This means that there is a need for women to do things that are home-centered or community-centered. This way, they can remain close to their homes, gardens, and children. That is why we have chosen sewing, baking, agriculture, animal rearing, and other household-centered vocations as our targeted work.

Additionally, the opportunities available in the professional market for women are extremely limited. This is changing slowly. The AIDS epidemic has forced the female workforce to step forward and help the men with their main responsibility of providing financially for the household. However, even with the social acceptance of women working, their challenges remain numerous. They, like women worldwide, balance the responsibilities of the home with the need for supplemental income. Also, just knowing how to sew a bag or bake bread does not guarantee success.

What women in Uganda possess in strength and endurance, they lack in opportunity and education. Technical skills alone are not enough to get women adequate access to income. With an average level of literacy and math skills averaging around a second grader (based on FOM demographics from 4 women's groups, 2007-2010), we saw a need for adequate adult education to accompany vocational training. Also, with generations of women's roles being limited and oppressed, confidence and self-esteem is lacking. Not to mention the obvious needs of market and product development knowledge. These facts led us to create a basic business class to use in conjunction with our vocational skills trainings. This class has become a staple of our work, as it is creating healthy group dynamics, giving valuable self-esteem, and teaching necessary business skills which will be used by our women's groups to gain an income for their families.

Written by Tara Hawks
Fount of Mercy's Director of Vocational Training and Sewing Hope