Victoria's Visit to Pittsburgh
September 24 through October 19, 2016
Dr. Bipin Pat Bipin Patel, who grew up in Uganda, became our financial partner. His Club and three others have generously donated funding. Louis Picard and his wife, Pauline Greenlick, both successful educators in Pennsylvania, have also been avid supporters of Victoria’s work. Dr. Picard spent three years in Uganda with the Peace Corps, where he met Manuel Pinto. Since learning about Bright Kids, they have assisted in administering the micro loan program. Pauline Greenlick created the ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples, which offers support to children with special needs and gender violence survivors, and has produced films to raise awareness of these families and Victoria’s work. They have been instrumental in helping the Rotary Club of Warren and the Rotary Club of Kampala to formalize a proposal for a Global Grant in support of of the micro loan project.
On October 11th, Victoria, Pauline, and Mariah Fosnight, an intern at the University of Pittsburgh, visited with us and provided an update on the microloan program. Mariah has been to to Uganda twice since 2015. She reported that in May of this year, a training curriculum was piloted in Entebbe. Participants were were taught the difference between profit and revenue, simple accounting and marketing skills, and information about savings and investments. They learned about the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses. This valuable education was provided to ensure success and a higher rate of repayment on their microloans. Victoria indicated that since her visit to our Club last year, 10 survivors have accessed microloans to make and sell crafts/baskets. A hospital is being built to provide medical care to gender violence survivors. In addition, a bill has has been drafted and presented to Parliament, advocating for protection of these women.
In closing, when speaking about her partnership with and support from Rotary, Victoria said, “Every little bit makes a difference. Together, we can make a difference.” Individual donations can be made to our Uganda micro loan project. project. In addition, you can make a difference by purchasing Bright Kids Uganda merchandise. There are 178 items items available for sale, including baskets, shoes, a traditional African Kente Cl African Kente Cloth (scarf), totes, sculptures, purses, jewelry, and more.
Victoria Nalonog Namusisi visits Pittsburgh, PA
Venita Collins, on behalf of the Rotary Club of Warren, presented Victoria Nalongo with a check for $750 in support of of the micro loan project in Uganda. Together we can make a difference!
Victoria was invited to speak on the Union Edge Labor talk radio show. She spoke for an hour about the role unions play in Uganda, how they support and at times do not support the workers and the impact on this to empower women to enter the workforce in order to support their families.
Victoria Nalongo Namusisi, Director of Bright Kids Uganda (BKU) Children's Home arrived in Pittsburgh October 5, 2017. Victoria's schedule was filled with many community, university and personal events where she was given the opportunity to speak about Bright Kids Uganda projects and future plans.
Dr. Susan O'Rourke, Carlow University education professor, invited Victoria and Pauline Greenlick to speak at her Carlow University Foundations class about BKU's Noah's Ark School for the Disabled. Her presentation began with the need for special education in Uganda and she focused on the 40 plus children who are now at the Noah's Ark School. There are 3 special needs teachers and also a speech therapist, physical therapist and sign language teacher. The students present were encouraged to volunteer or work as interns at Noah's Ark.
Victoria was one of the featured speakers at the University of Pittsburgh African Studies event. While there she discussed the intern opportunities for university students which are available at BKU. Several GSPIA interns who had worked at BKU spoke about their projects and experiences.
E. Maxine Bruhns, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms, invited Victoria to speak with her about the ten Bright Kids Uganda children whom Maxine is personally supporting their educational fees. Victoria presented to Maxine a video of the ten students who expressed their appreciation to Maxine for her support. Maxine invited Victoria to a luncheon to meet nine of Maxine's friends. Victoria spoke to them about her work at Bright Kids Uganda. During the luncheon, all nine of Maxine's Friends gave a greeting starting with "Jambo" to the ten BKU students. Pauline Greenlick captured on video the greetings of Maxine's Friends to the BKU students and created a DVD for Victoria to take back with her to Uganda to show the students.
Bright Kids Uganda, a non-profit organization located in Entebbe Entebbe, Uganda, was cofounded by Victoria Nalongo Namusisi and the and the late Honorable Manuel Pinto in the year 2000. Starting out as a home for orphans and vulnerable children, BKU has branched out to support other organizations and projects. For example, in 2012, BKU became involved with children left homeless as a result of gender violence (acid attacks). The Blessed Survivors project was started to take care of acid and burn survivors through medical care, micro loans, and educational support for their children.
In 2013, the Bright Kids Enterprises Micro Loan Project was started, with the primary objective of helping struggling families invest in small businesses. Last year, members of the Rotary Club of Warren were provided with the opportunity to view a documentary about gender gender violence in Uganda. It was so compelling that our Club became involved in the international micro loan project.
Mariah Fosnight, Victoria Nalongo, and Pauline Greenlick
The University of Pittsburgh Ford Institute for Human Security and Graduate School for Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) invited Victoria to speak to students and faculty about her micro loan project in northern Uganda. Northern Uganda has just recovered from a brutal 30 year civil war and there are thousands without an education and jobs. Two years ago, Victoria embarked on an ambitious program to establish a micro loan project which initially involved ten families. Two years later, Victoria stated that the response from the women involved was successful with many more requesting loans. She now is helping the women build a trading center so that they can sell their dry goods and food.
"Bright Kids Uganda"
Rotary Note, a publication of the Rotary Club of Warren
October 11, 2017
ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples
Victoria Nalongo Namusisi, Bright Kids Uganda Co-Founder and Director, was invited to Pittsburgh, PA to be the guest of honor at the Pulitzer prize winner Martha Rial Photo Exhibit, "In Uganda, a School to Call Home". In November, 2015, Martha Rial traveled to Uganda to photograph the work Victoria and Medi Bugemebe are doing in their Uganda children's homes. Her photos can be viewed at the 937 Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA. The exhibit runs from September 23, 2016 through November 13, 2016.
Victoria and several University of Pittsburgh GSPIA interns spoke at the photo exhibit's Community Forum on September 29, 2016. They related many stories about the children Victoria and Medi help and many whose photos are part of the exhibit. Over one hundred guests attended the event and enjoyed the good food and wine while viewing the stunning photographs.
Victoria was kept busy speaking at many Pittsburgh area events. She appeared on KDKA TV "Pittsburgh Live" along with Martha Rial to discuss the photo exhibit. She spoke about the Bright Kids Uganda micro loans project on the Union Edge radio station. In addition she was invited to speak at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and Internal Affairs (GSPIA) about her work with micro loans and sustainable development projects. Susan O'Rourke, Carlow University, sponsored a bike fundraiser to raise funds for a special education teacher at Noah's Ark school. The Warren, Ohio Rotary club invited Victoria to speak about the "Blessed Survivors" acid attack survivors micro loan project the Rotary Club is supporting. BKU USA also supported a fundraiser at Wigle Whiskey to support BKU children's school fees.
Mariah Fosnight, University of Pittsburgh GSPIA and Business School master's student, joined Victoria and Pauline Greenlick, ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples, treasurer, drove to Warren, Ohio to speak to the Warren, Ohio Rotary Club about the micro loan project for the Blessed Survivors ( acid attack survivors). Mariah spoke about her travels to Uganda to train the micro loan participants and Victoria spoke about the micro loan project and related several survivors success stories. Warren Ohio Rotary had named BKU micro loan project for acid attack survivors as their 2016 international project. They had been involved in a year long campaign to raise money and are now working on obtaining a matching grant from International Rotary.