#Uganda! go and make your contribution upcountry…as well

STIC Call for Grant Header

A FEW weeks ago I received an email from an acquaintance in Uganda’s ICT world, seeking help.

Reading through the appeal confused me for a while, and I put it aside till I was fresh in the morning so I could understand it properly. You see, it was too simple to make sense to me and the amounts involved seemed to be missing a few commas and zeroes – or other digits.

The letterhead (as you see from the above) read “Lira Town College” and the appeal was for a grant to assist the school’s Science and Technology Innovations Club (STIC) activities.

I remembered this organisation clearly as I read the letter detailing that the Club had participated in various ICT events, including the Annual Communications Innovations Awards (ACIA).

Their need, as I stated, was simple – a new Robotics Kit for the club, which would enable them to participate in another challenge event this month.

What further bamboozled me was the cost of the kit they needed – Ushs602,000 only (sent to 0783125905 by Mobile Money).

I did my part and also sent word round even further, and was only mildly surprised after a few weeks to discover that there had been only one (1 – emu – moja) contribution to their cause.

This, meanwhile, during a time where we participate in marathons and runs, wedding fundraisers, political fundraisers and the like, that raise billions at a pop.

Our ongoing fundraisers take place mostly in Kampala for the benefit of causes and activities that are mostly visible in Kampala.

Not only that, most of the money we collect here in the capital city gets spent in the capital city – which concentrates economic and development activity further here in the capital city rather than spreading it out nationwide.

Of course, it makes sense to pursue the fundraising activities in Kampala because most of the big money is in Kampala. But if we could do that and send the funds outside of the city then we would certainly see a lot more development taking place out there in places like Lira.

Six hundred thousand shillings, for instance, could be the difference between those eager, intelligent, high potential children in Lira developing some ground breaking innovation that could change the world in one way or another.

If we (the people reading this and resident in Kampala) got together in groups of twenty (20) and each contributed Ushs1,000 a day for a month, then we could probably equip every high school in the country with a Robotics kit and enhance innovative science in the minds of all our children.

The amounts involved in upcountry locations are always surprisingly low – which defies economics, since the point of logistics entry and clearance into Uganda is normally through Kampala, and therefore things going upcountry should be more expensive.

Let’s not correct that anomaly yet; instead, perhaps we should fund raise less for things happening in Kampala and more for things taking place in remote, upcountry places.

The impact will certainly be much larger, and the story even more compelling when scientists emerge on the global scene and tell of their humble beginnings from Lira Town College.

And for you, the benefactor in small amounts, the fulfilment will be even that much greater when you find that a humble contribution of Ushs1,000 a day over a couple of months has resulted in nationally – even globally – acknowledged innovations.

Ushs1,000 a day – less than the cost of an average Rolex; perhaps two breakfast sumbusas; a bottle of water; airtime spent downloading WhatsApp photographs every hour…

Meanwhile, the Lira Town College Science and Innovations Club has an event to participate in next month and needs this Robotics kit of Ushs602,000.

Think about that as you buy your next drink, or a concert ticket, or that additional toy for your rather over-indulged infant.

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