SVA Update: Issue 3
Little Big Africa
As in previous years, the volunteers going to Uganda will be working under the guidance of Little Big Africa (LBA). LBA provide SVA’s volunteers with training before they move to a village in Uganda’s Manwafa District to begin project. This year’s project sees volunteer’s construct large rain water tank. The water tank is largely for the school’s use but, through and agreement made with the school’s head teacher, the villagers will have access to it. This year’s Uganda project will also continue the work of building smokeless stoves, as well as the protection a local water source so that safe, clean and sustainable drinking water is made available closer to the homes of the villagers. With all these work going on, who exactly are Little Big Africa.
Little Big Africa has been operating since 2005, working predominantly in the Eastern Ugandan Mbale Region, but they have also recently branched out to the Manafwa District. Following from their guiding aim of getting ‘people to live in harmony with their environment’ Little Big Africa have four main areas of focus, on which the voluntary work is based, which aim to protect the local natural resources of Uganda. These four areas of focus are: to protect water springs, construct water tanks, promote fuel efficient stoves, and train communities in WASH (techniques in life saving water, sanitation and hygiene).
With Little Big Africa’s attentions being based on low cost development projects in rural communities, it is clear how dependent the NGO is on volunteers from organizations like SVA. It is unfortunate but commonplace that donations intended for development and foreign aid do not necessarily make it to the people who need it most. A lot of money is wasted on various expenses. Little Big Africa are very aware of this and not a penny is wasted on flights, bills or UK overhead costs. Administration costs are kept to an absolute minimum, with the upmost care spent on avoiding waste. The organisation operates only with the help of volunteers who fundraise for all their costs throughout their stay in Uganda and fully fund their own expenses. However, they could also not function without the help of workers in each and every village. These are experienced workers who understand what is best for their community and Little Big Africa work to involve them as much as possible to ensure the work they are doing is actually beneficial for the greatest number of people.
It is clear that the Little Big Africa team are not only hard working but innovative people who have dedicated their lives to making a difference for the people who need it. Bikie and Debs Isharaza , two of the founders, and leading figures in LBA, formed the organisation after they noticed the communities remained in need of help and despite the work of other charities in Uganda, these interventions were failing local people. They felt - and proved - they could provide the means to make a difference. Debs and Bikie are an enthusiastic, married couple who live in Uganda, both with more than ten years experience working in the voluntary sector of international development. In addition to this experience, together they are quite the team as Debs is a UK born worker with a BA in African Studies and a masters degree International Development, while Bikie is from Uganda with a fantastic historical, social and cultural insight into the life faced by the people they help. Since 2005, the LBA team has grown to include Claire Scrutton on the Board of Trustees, as well as Isa Sematimba, Anna Sharratt and Ariana Chamberlain who have all contributed to the continuing improvement of Little Big Africa, helping make LBA what it is today.
Over the course of its work, Little Big Africa has done a lot for Uganda, including protecting 23 water sources, constructed 19 water tanks, provided well over 1000 reading books as well as given musical instruments, stationary and text books to schools. The Little Big Africa team work very hard to ensure they can make a Big difference with a Little cost and will continue to do so, with the work of volunteers, for as long as they can.
SVA is a Scottish Registered Charity: No. SC 030081 c/o. University of Glasgow SRC, The John MacIntyre Building, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW, G12 8QQ