Thursday, November 21, 2013

Calling all Interns!!!

In our almost 8 years of existence, we have been  fortunate to have many volunteers come our way.  In 2009, we had our first interns begin working with us, and since then, we have almost always had at least 1 intern working in Uganda with us…sometimes 3 at one time!  These amazing, hard-working, smart women have had an integral part of developing our work on the ground.  There is no coffee-making, envelope-stuffing for our interns!   They write curriculum, do hands-on research, teach and train, and set up systems for our work in Uganda.  In short, they are VITAL. 

This is the beauty of being a small organization…we can offer experiences that large ones cannot.  Our interns learn, alongside our staff, and gain knowledge that is invaluable for their future, whether it is as a small business owner, a non-profit staffer, a development worker, a mother, or just a compassionate person.  We are so proud that we have had 2 interns return for a second 6 months with us…even though they are paying their own way to be there!   This tells us that we are doing something right.   

We are suddenly finding ourselves in need of interns.  It is ironic that for the first time, we are actively seeking interns rather than them finding us, but our work is currently at its peak as far as the quality and quantity of projects we have happening in Uganda.  

So, we are putting it out there to our network, and hope that you will pass this along to anyone who may want/need an internship for school credit, or just for life experience.  

Our biggest needs currently are an administration intern and a vocational development intern. 

Administration Intern (1 needed at a time):  Will assist our International Director in the management of the entire organization in Uganda, including training/assisting Ugandan staff, helping with financial organization, researching sources and best-practices, social media, documentation, research, and curriculum writing.

Vocational Intern (1-2 needed at a time):   Will help oversee inventory, quality control, new designs, and general production systems of our scarf project.  Will also continue to oversee the beginning sewing classes, and begin writing an intermediate sewing class.  Social media and documentation will be expected also.  This person may have a fashion or sewing background, entrepreneur or small business experience, and/or strong organizational, production knowledge. 

Interns could arrive as soon as January 2014, and need to commit to at least 3-6 months in-country…up to a year.  All costs are currently the responsibility of the intern, though housing could potentially be offered.  Interns need to be initiative takers, able to work independently, and have self-motivation. Ample time and discussion with occur during the application process to be sure a candidate will be a good fit for our work, and us for their skills and interests.   

Estimated Costs:  Plane Ticket=$1500-2000.  Monthly Expenses Average:  $550/month

Please contact Tara H Nyanga for more information and/or to apply for an internship in 2014.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who are our scarf models?

Who are our models?
Sometimes when you see pictures online, whether they are in a publication, from an article, or on a website, it is easy to forget that the people in the photos are real, actual people…or maybe that is just me. Ha!  I know I sometimes feel this way when I see nameless photos from other organizations….and assume that the child or woman in the shot is unknown. 

If you relate to these thoughts, then I’d love to share with you exactly who the beautiful women in our scarf photos are.  I can attest that we, here at Fount, know each of them VERY well. 

First, on the far left, is our Community Health Director, Vanessa.  Vanessa has been with Fount since the beginning in 2006, when she took her first trip to Uganda, and became hooked.  She started as a volunteer, and now is on staff, splitting her time between Texas (4 months per year) and Jinja (the remaining 8 months).  Being a practicing labor and delivery nurse, she is passionate about women and adolescent health, reproductive education, and dignity during the birth process.  Her dream, and goal, is to set up a dignified, safe, high-quality maternity center in Jinja.  

Second from the left, is Manuela.  Manuela has been with Fount for almost 2 years, working as Vanessa’s associate.  She has helped write and develop health education curriculum for educators and community leaders to teach to the adolescents in their communities.  Her sweet, calm demeanor and radiant smile are an asset, as she is able to connect easily and quickly with her students.  Thanks to a grant Fount received earlier this year, she is now a full-time employee of ours, and has a computer to aid her work. 

Third from the left is a woman who I am proud to call my “sister”, Olivia.  Olivia is married to my husband’s brother, Robert…another community leader whom Fount has partnered with for about 4 years.  In fact, it is through this initial contact with Robert that Grace (my husband) and I met!  Although Olivia does not work officially for Fount, she is a valuable aid and advisor.  We trust her opinion greatly, and she never hesitates to help when needed.  Olivia sprung to mind immediately as a model for our scarves because of her contagious, continual laughter and amazing smile…not to mention that she LOVES us and will help us whenever needed!  Olivia is currently preparing for her traditional introduction ceremony, which will officially and publicly recognize her marriage to wonder she is so happy! 

And finally, on the far right, is our amazing intern, Katie!  Although Katie just recently left Uganda, this was her second time working for Fount in Jinja.  She had such a good experience in 2011, she decided to go back this past June!  Katie was the guiding force behind our basic business curriculum…not only writing it, but also testing it with a group of village women, and editing it to be even more effective.  This curriculum is now a successful mainstay of our vocational work in Uganda!  During her second trip, she worked with another intern, Sarah, to test and edit our Beginning Sewing class curriculum, as well as overseeing quality control and inventory practices in our new scarf project.  Katie is super-fun, and always eager to jump in wherever needed…in this case, to be our beautiful scarf model!

Every time I post/see these photos, it really brings to home the fact that these scarves are not made by nameless/faceless workers “somewhere in Africa”.  They are each made, by hand, and with love by people whom we love.  

--Written by Tara Nyanga, on behalf of FOM.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I think I can....I think I can....

Some days Fount of Mercy feels like the children story book "The Little Engine That Could". Do you remember that story? In the tale, a long train must be pulled over a high mountain. Larger engines, are asked to pull the train; for various reasons they refuse. The request is sent to a small engine, who agrees to try. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: "I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can".

As I spend my time working on grant applications for each of our four programs, I am constantly amazed at the huge task ahead of us. Sure it would be so much simpler if we just focused on one thing but instead we have committed to responding to the orphan crisis as holistically and sustainability as possible: supporting orphan caregivers with supplemental care and vocational training; investing in pre-existing local organizations/community schools; and equipping the younger generation with life skills and sex education.

It sound like a lot because it is. "I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can". The good news is that we're not alone in our huge task. We've got your encouragement and financial support. We have incredible peers on the field that challenge us. Most importantly we have the amazing Ugandan men and women on the ground level who inspire us with their dedication to their communities most vulnerable.

~Written by Michelle, for the Fount of Mercy staff.

Friday, November 1, 2013


This week, I wanted to get a little personal with you, our most consistent base of supporters. 

About a year and a half ago, most of you will remember that my family moved from Uganda to the US, and a few weeks later, I had a baby....Hannah.  As anyone who's had a baby knows, the mere existence of a baby changes EVERYTHING.  The way you feel, sleep, go anywhere, eat, period.  Time, space, stuff...they all change when you go from, like me, having responsibilities and even older children to care for, to having your entire life be controlled by another life.  I think I knew enough to expect this. 

But, what I didn't expect was to have my work for Fount change so profoundly.  Yes, I knew once maternity leave was over, there would be a tough transition.  I knew it would be hard to squeeze work in around naps and feedings and demands. 

But, I didn't know that I suddenly would relate more deeply to the women I had been teaching for 6 years.  I didn't know that I suddenly would feel the same tug of war between wanting to simply be with and play with my baby, but needing to find work and money to do so.  I didn't know that I would view their living conditions through a new lense...of dirt, germs, discomfort, sleep needs, and safety that previously was not quite so unsettling.

I took Hannah to Uganda this past summer, when she was just a year old.  And, we received some of the warmest greetings ever.   Not only was I able to relate more to the women of Uganda, but I think some of them were able to relate more to me.  They wanted to touch her and hold her and yell in excitement when they met her.  They thanked me for the hard work of birthing her.  And, they must have known deep-down that I now felt some of the passionate protective feelings and the need to provide that they have for their babies too. 

As hard as it was to take a one year old on an international, 30 hour trip, it was well worth it to share their "daughter" with my Ugandan sisters.  Hannah has given me a renewed purpose and focus in my work for Fount. 

~Written by Tara, for the Fount of Mercy staff.