Caleb, Saad and Kris were students from Northwestern University on the Global Engage Studies institute (GESI) internship program. Their internship at FSD Jinja Uganda provided them an opportunity to explore hands on learning ideas of solving community development challenges sustainably. During their internship in Uganda, they worked with an FSD partner organization called Phoebe Education Fund for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (PEFO).
PEFO is charity/ non profit organization whose overall purpose is to facilitate care and provide support for older persons and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) households to promote sustainable development. The organization trees for education is a long term economic empowerment program in which grandmothers plant tree seedlings and sell them years later to provide school fees and pension for members in their households.
The international student’s projects goal at the organization was to build upon and improve PEFO’s tree education program. This involved increasing the awareness of best practices for marketing, providing formal structures and evolving a Database for PEFO tree project.
The students carried a community assessment and identified the following program gaps and priority needs: lack of training on tree maintenance; scarcity of available markets for fair price as well as absence of a database for program evaluation.
To meet these needs, the intern participants with support from PEFO expertise: conducted a series of training workshops that taught grand mothers how to plant and maintain their trees; created an instruction manual about tree care that acts as a reference for grand mothers to use; reached out to local markets such as the carpentry department and a local paper mill to help grand mothers establish a relationship with local timber markets where they can sell their trees; developed a process map which PEFO and the committee leaders can use to keep track of available trees and times to sell the trees. In addition, the intern participants worked with PEFO to establish organized trees for education committees for evaluating the success of Trees for Education program
The internship experience at PEFO, enabled Caleb, Saad and Kris to improve PEFO’s tree education program. PEFO now has the necessary tools with the process map to manage the trees database and coordinate timber collection. The organization has identified a workshop instructor, who is able to conduct trainings and provide future instructions for the grandmothers. Finally, through the educational manual developed from the training, the local grandmothers and target community are now able to plant, maintain and market their trees successfully.