Gamechangers Development in Northern Uganda

Travelling to a remote Omoro village boardgames club

I am called Grace Ayaa and I am the director of Chrysalis, taking care of activities , general development and expansion in Northern Uganda .Many might have heard about the hard conditions of all the children up north who are just recovering from the past war and no one would have thought that board games would be something that the kids would even think of as something they could embrace, but surprisingly it has been far from that. I personally have grown to love the games so much;  it has been a way of spending time learning and teaching the kids at the same time, and getting to know their different abilities. There have been kids who we thought were not at all  academically bright, but when it comes to games, they are so excited and takes them few hours to perfectly play the games; they get that feeling of “There is something I can really do very well”, so  I would say that the introduction of these games has made the kids feel so empowered and able to interact with each other more freely, thus the need for us to make this games go to the most remote areas of Northern Uganda and later to the rest of the country. It is one approach that could even be embraced by the authorities to help integrate the otherwise most remote kids who do not have the opportunity to enjoy many activities, as other children do.

Thurn und Taxi last year

A few years ago we opened a centre in Koro, near Gulu, a large town in Northern Uganda.  We started a small board games club by working with our own members who stay very close to our centre and the result was very promising; lots of kids, even those from nearby villages kept increasing by the day, so there came the idea of inviting most of them for the convention and the result was that I had to use a lot of tricks to keep some of them out because the numbers were becoming alarming!!  It has been very challenging putting all these together, since it involved myself learning the games first before I can teach them to play myself, and I was also reliant on my colleague Ben who is usually based in the Kampala office or when he comes to Gulu for his field work, we then sit together for a few hours when he teaches me two or three new games. Of course it’s not that easy always, but then there are also particular ones that are my favorites that I took to very quickly. I particularly loved Thurn and Taxi, which I really would like all of our clubs to have a copy, since we have only one. Planning ahead even for your next route is something that stimulates strategic thinking, even for kids who have never before played any board games.That is the part I really love most ,it also turned out that there are lots of kids out there that only need this kind of intervention for them to be aware that they are also capable and useful to the world. This gives them lots of  encouragement and hope!

In March this year we went further into many more districts of northern Uganda. Now we have clubs in ; Agago(2 clubs) Lira(2 clubs) , Gulu (2 clubs), Omoro, Nwoya, Koro our center and Koro Abili clubs. Some of these are really in very remote areas and am so happy that we got this started in those places, as this has brought a lot of enthusiasm to the kids to the communities as a whole, you can see some of the parents coming around to watch what their kids are doing and others of course want to try them out. A lot more have helped us rejuvenate the traditional games that the kids obviously did not know and there has never been any better avenue to get such things done and we are proud to have provided that avenue! Many have learned to play omweso, by introducing the international board gamesand yet this is a game that originates from here – the kids were so motivated that they didn’t even wait to have the boards  specially made, they all started making holes in the ground and using such local seeds or small stones. Some adults who visited us while we were playing, also taught a few old games that some of them embraced immediately. The Omweso is what we did for the competition during the 2018 Convention alongside Molerats in Space and Dragon & Flagon, and prizes were given out particularly for these games.

We also have a toddler’s games club with members from our Little Butterflies Nursery School and the other younger kids from around the center who cannot be part of the major teams.They have been doing very well. We just started with just a few very simple games, but these have been really successful, so we plan to expand the number very soon at the request of the nursery teachers who are the ones in charge of this particular area. I would also like to see us expanding working with these younger children, yet we have too few games to handle the influx of the young ones who are not old enough to be club members and yet they keep coming everyday that we are there.

Starting our games early with our Little Butterflies Nursery

Then came the very popular Uganda Village Boardgame Convention 2018 at the Chrysalis Centre, Koro which, for a whole month everyone was looking forward to! For those who were there last year and knew what would take place there, it was yet another upcoming excitement, and for the new ones, it was a great adventure to look forward to! Lots of preparations for our part started at least a week before the D-day, things like organisation of transport from the different areas, purchase of furniture. and so on . We initially were preparing for around 127 people in total though, we ended up with about 165 , with a bit more on some days when local kids would join, either to watch the others play or meet the “visitors”.  Looks like everything was well with the beddings, foods and the games itself and we are going to turn the bedding mats into play mats for board games, as it will mean less need for tables. Some people were a bit nervous about the games which were set for the competition and others were just okay, but with time in the Convention to practise, most succeeded. We discovered later how these games have helped all the different teams gain confidence in themselves. Generally I feel that we have achieved the goal that was intended for the Village Board Game Convention. The first Convention in 2017 was also a great success and at the time we thought i would be hard to better. However this year we had many more children from much further afield from almost all over the Northern region, thus we would say we are now ready to host even a bigger number in 2019.  However, this however entails a lot of additional planning. We shall need to put up a few more structures especially the sleeping areas, we had quite a bit challenge in finding everyone a space to sleep and also the it would be very helpful if we had bunk beds and mattresses, which would possibly take up less space.  Next year, those that come will be even more experienced at playing games and we can do an even better job.

Despite all these few challenges, we achieved our objective, because you could see that even those from the most remote parts were able to be friends from each other and learn to be team mates. All this we attribute to the games and we hope that we shall continue to reach more and more remote areas, thus empowering and helping children realize their potentials in different fields other than what they learn at school.

With all  this in mind, we wish to cover the whole of northern region this year, including the districts of  Kitgum, Amuru, Oyam, Kole , Lamwo, Apac, Dokolo Otuke .  We also had hope that we would  continue helping the existing games groups with the new games that they won at the Convention, because some are still new to them and they need ttraining. All in all, we need to have a continuity in all these areas, new games for them to learn and new opportunities to meet fellow gamers. The sky is the limit for us with the games!

We do need your support to develop this project further and have more than 50 games that we are ready to transport to Uganda, though we still need more games donations.  If you would like to support the Ugandan team directly, then please click here

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I want to complete my studies to be a doctor – here’s what drives me

My name is Akena Reagan Peter. A member of the Butterfly Project…. I joined the project in 2011 when the Butterfly Project was searching for gifted and talented Ugandan youth living in the disadvantaged part of the country (rural). My family and I were among the many people affected by the LRA insurgency and driven to internally displaced people camp for over 20 years. Even though the resistance is no more, this part of the country still bleeds from the effects of the war it has caused.

As a child and all my life, I wanted to save life. Seeing people suffer and die from diseases that can be treated motivated me even more to do something about it especially to the people where I come from. One of those is Malaria which is the leading cause of death in infants.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429 000 malaria deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths. In Uganda, Malaria is the leading cause of death among Ugandan accounting for over 27% of lives of Ugandans.(Ministry of Health-Malaria Bulletin 2016). One of the causes of this high rate is due to the inadequate health care facilities and health workers and it’s also the reason why I want to become a doctor.

Through my experience with the Butterfly Project, I also learnt a lot of things. I had dreams but never knew if they could come true and its one of the things you’ll find in most of the kids being brought up in a poor background, you dream but there is nothing to help you make your dream come true and so most of their dreams die at the end because of either limited resources or no one look up to/motivate them to achieve what they wanted as its general to most of the kids in that setting. The butterfly project has taught me a number of things, I got the idea of making change from the Butterfly Project, to make a positive change you didn’t have to start from something big, just had to start from what you have and because of this at the age of 12, I decided to come up with a project, this project was about reporting issues happening in the local community, some health related issues like sanitation, educative aspects and several other issues.

This project was particularly for the Acholi Quarter community living in the slum area in a Kampala suburb, I was particularly working with a team of young individuals at my age and others slightly younger who were acting as news anchors and I would do the editing bit of it, we named this newsletter ‘AQ Youth News’ (AQ-Acholi Quarter).

I also came up with another project two years later called ICT for Change project, from its name, this project was majorly aimed at educating young individual(10-15) on the basic essentials of ICT, it tackled the basic components like Microsoft word to increase their typing skills and speeds, PowerPoint for presentation and the internet bit of it to connect to people overseas and know what’s happening in various part of the world because we are living in a global village and because ICT is becoming one of major essentials in many parts of the world and a job qualification for many other areas.

From the Butterfly Project I also learnt to be selfless, to give back without expecting in return which motivated me to come up with all the above. I also got a chance to reach and visit many important places and sites including the capital city which I first visited because of the project. Among these is, the National Museum, the National Theatre, the National Zoo, the source of world’s second longest river (R. Nile)   at Jinja, lake Victoria, the Mandela National Stadium, the Entebbe international Airport, Queen Elizabeth Game Park, farms, got my first experience with the 3D, experienced most of the international foods and many others among to mention but a few.

Through my experience with the Chrysalis School for Young Social Entrepreneurs in 2011 when I was in Senior One, I got the chance to learn subjects which were rare in most cases not there in the schools found in the country, they included Ethics(sympathy and empathy), International Citizenship, Activism ( personalities which done great things in the lives of others). I also learnt how to use computer and internet, boosted by public speaking ability and learnt how to be confident in things I do, connected with some personalities overseas, improved on my reading and writing skills, farming skills, going to change maker workshops, one of which I can remember is the Ashoka Youth venture workshop organized in Kenya’s capital Nairobi bordering Uganda to the east which ran for about a week bringing change makers from all over East Africa, the goal was also to recognize and empower change makers from all over the region who were still in the dream it and do it stage, I also learnt how to play various computer games and board games which were both for educative and leisure purposes, participated in various sports activities like athletics (slum run and few pitch events, football, Frisbee.)

Photos of zoo

Photos of Acholi Quarter News Production

I am doing a Bachelor of Clinical Medicine and Community Health at Kampala International University (School of health sciences) which is expected to last for 4½ years. Kampala International University’s Western Campus [KIU-WC] is situated on about 70 acres of land in Ishaka-Bushenyi, along Mbarara –Kasese Road in Western Uganda about 300km from the capital Kampala.

I have just started my second semester-first year. The first semester started in August 2017 and ended in December 2017 which comprises of 12 course units which are Biology (human history, how life came about, etc), Chemistry ( the medium on which the human body works), Physics ( studying some machines which are use in diagnosis and how they operate), Community Health and Epidemiology ( Study disease patterns and their distribution in community essential in making diagnosis and ensuring diseases are prevented from spreading from one individual or community to another) , Ethics and Integrity (how a medical professional should handle a patient, his/her relationship with the patient, what should be done or not regarding different situations which are considered ethical according to the medical profession), communication skills( skills in relating to one another through various means which is essential in doctor-patient communication and between other health professionals), behavioural science ( study human behavior and personalities for making proper diagnosis), Research Methods (important in research in the medical field in case of a finding or if one wants to conduct a research, the order and procedures to be followed and how it should be done), Computer skills (application software like Microsoft word, to boost skills on typing, printing which are essentials in making medical reports), Biostatistics (concerned with collecting, analyzing, organizing, of bio datas which is important for collecting medical records and drawing logical conclusions from them) , Mathematics( arithmetic analysis of medical records and information) & Entrepreneurship ( to look at various business opportunities associated in the medical field) .

I am the one on the left

I passed all of them in the first term and have now moved onto the next class and semester despite the numbers and hard work needed. Most of these courses have been fundamental to the start of the career, interacting with friends and people from various cultures, languages and backgrounds from within and from other countries since it’s an international school made it even more interesting because I got to learn a lot and shared with them both inside and outside class.

The second semester comprises of eight course units which are physiology, Human anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Immunology, Nursing skills, nutritional Health and environmental health from the course outline which I’m to learn this semester and would need sponsoring for and probably for another seven semesters(3 and half years) to the finish of the course.

http://shs.kiu.ac.ug/

Due to my good performance in my A levels (the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE)), I was given a 40% partial scholarship towards the fees, reducing them to about £300 per semester, with two semesters in each year.  My living costs are £60/term for accommodation and a further similar amount for food.  I was able to raise enough for my accommodation and food last semester and hope to be able to do the same this year.  However, I urgently need 1.4m UGX (approx £300) for my fees this term, if I am going to be able to continue.  For next year I am going to be planting a substantial amount of sim sim to raise more money for Year 2 and onwards.

 

If you feel you can help me with any money towards the £300, then that would be really appreciated.  Contact Ben on socentafrica@gmail.com for information of how to get the money to me. Thank you for reading this far!

TRIP TO ENTEBBE ZOO WILD LIFE CONSERVATION

My name is rubangakene innocent i am C4s group member 2017 this is my blogs about entebbe zoo wild life conservation.                                                                                                    it was a nice trip i made,i enjoy it ,we also swim at the lake Victoria                                             the Entebbe zoo  were opened in 1952 by the colonial government in Uganda near lake Victoria,it was started as the center for receiving animals with wound,injury,orphan,sick,casualties etc.                                                                                                then  in may 1994 the Entebbe zoo was change to Uganda wildlife education center.{UWEC}it was founded by trust foundation.for the primary studies purposes.from there i saw many animals me actually i was not expected that i will saw them such as lion,elephant,cheetah,leopard,ostrich,crested crane,impala,hyena,rhino,buffaloes,zebra,giraffe etc

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MY BLOG ABOUT KATENDE HARAMBE

My name is Rubangakene Innocent,I am fourteen years old,i am C4s members.One day we C4s group member,visit a certain place called Katende Harambe.This place mainly they do farming and also people learn about farming from there.

When we go there i learn may thing about farming such as type of garden,type of system of keeping animal,keeping fish,growing crops,and also how to use cows dung to  make bio gas.The type of garden include sacks garden,this one they uses sacks [opiro] by putting soil in the sack.veranda garden in this they uses veranda by putting soil into the veranda.Tyre garden in this  one they uses Tyre to plant crops by putting soil into the Tyre.

I learn about the animal called guinea pigs and other animal like cows,goats12065624_1473732256268975_5385666123995953248_n

TRIP TO ENTEBBE

Hi, i am AKERA INNOCENT from the butterfly project. I joined the butterfly project this year 2017 and am very happy to be here as their member with my mates from different places.

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Akera Innocent 

.On the 13th of October,we as the cohort 4 had a trip to Entebbe airport as well as the zoo and we came to know that Entebbe airport was started in 1947 which we never knew before until we were taken by the organisation i have mentioned above. It was very interesting because we never knew that we will go there as to why that we are from the northern part of Uganda and we don’t know about any project called the Butterfly project.We thanked them very much because they are equal in picking their members randomly not only from one part of Uganda.From the village i never knew that i will go to the biggest airport of Uganda because i am from a very far remote village in Agago district near Pader called Pakor Dungu. After that we went to Entebbe national zoo which i didn’t expect to go too,

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Behind us was the giraffes (c4’s 2017 )

From there, it was written that it was opened in 1952.In 1960’s, it changed its role to traditional zoo. Entebbe means in local Luganda language as ‘seat’.And it was probably named that because it was a place where the Buganda chief sat to adjudicate legal cases.We saw lots of animals and before we entered into to the zoo, there was a notice saying: ‘ANIMALS HAVE FEELINGS TOO’.When you tease, harass,touch ,disturb ,shout or throw stones at them, they get angry and hurt just as you would.So we were advised that we should not do those things so that we would have nice trip in the zoo.we did as said by the supervisor not to do anything on them.We as the butterfly members we learnt that animals are friendly to human beings because they don’t harm when you do not disturb them.It was very educative to us as students because we came to know many animals and birds with their latin names (scientific names) e.g African rock python and the latin name is python sebae  and many others like crested cranes,Monkeys under sub topic called animals in the surroundings

which are taught in Biology. So they should also send as many children as possible to the zoo because of its interesting and educative not only for us the c4’s to get that knowledge but also other young generations from various places they will choose.And to all those who read my blog , take also your children to the zoo so they can also get the knowledge about the animals we live with in our environment and to relax themselves as well because it will keep the child’s mind also away from some problems they run through in their life as children.I will be grateful if you do what we did.

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The water there is having acid which prevents baboons fro getting away from the forest.

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A crested crane in the fence

THANKS FOR READING ME.

 

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My mate standing near the monkey

Our trip to Katwe

It was the most favourite journey for me and the most exciting place for me ever tovisit, CHESS CLUB CENTRE.The place is located in Katwe, in central Kampala.The club was started by Robert Katende in 2003. It is well known by people because the girl named Phiona Mutesi, Queen of Katwe  did this up to 4th level

In a hurry we started we started to prepare our board games for the journey we load our stuff in a taxi and set off with Ben Parkinson and Alex Obeki.  On the way I saw craft pieces like wooden pots.  We rode up to the way that branch to the chess club centre

When we arrived they warmly  welcome us in a room on the wall there was a photo of all the champions, some of whom I could remember from the film. After sitting for a while they got organised and come to teach us  the chess lessons when they were prepared they teach us,and we enjoyed the lesson

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It was our turn to teach them our board games when we had lunch we teach them board games like Pit, Conquest, Narnia etc.   I was supposed to teach Conquest since no one knows how to play that game very well among the C.4 members except for me.

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It looks like Chess, but it is in fact Conquest. I am on the right

 

After we were done we had a short speech with them they held a short prayer and they told to come next time when Phiona came from UK, after we all get on to get the taxi.

My Blog about the Gamechangers Holiday in Koro

I am the second one from the left – this was our Art Arena game

My name is Francis Ogen.  I am 12  and this is my blog about our holiday in Koro. We reached in Koro at around 5:15pm and that was on Tuesday 29th August.  Our generator did not arrive on Tuesday, so that evening we had no light, as we could not find paraffin for the lamps.

On Wednesday we started doing our activities that take us up to Koro  and they started with board games, followed by active games after then followed by Art Arena which me , Rubangakene and Akera we are handling .That day they did not do drama on Wednesday evening, as we watched Jungle book.  I enjoyed doing the activities with the kids that day.  We also did sports at the end of the day, like volleyball and football, which was fun.

On Thursday  after taking our breakfast we started doing the activities and that was around 9:00am. After starting with active games and followed with board games and then art. That day our parents came to visit us and then they left at around 3:30pm.  I was happy to seemy father again, as we had been in Kampala since February.  After then drama was the last activity to be done on Thursday and that Thursday evening we watched Transformers, the Movie.

On Friday we took our breakfast and after taking we started doing activities at around 9:00am in the morning.  The first activities to be done were board games and those stopped at around 10:00am after active games followed. They stopped at around 12:00am then art arena followed and it started at around 2:00 pm then stopped at around 3:00pm after drama was the last activities to be done on Friday. On Friday evening we watched City of Embers.  The weather gradually worsened during the week and the area for games became muddy, yet this did affect our enjoyment.

On Saturday we took our breakfast and start doing activities 9:00am morning the first activity to be done was board games and it stopped at around 11:00am and then followed by active games it stopped at around 12:00am after drama followed then it stopped at around 2:00am Art Arena was the last activity to be done during evening we watched Narnia.  We also had special food in the evening – burgers and fried bread and the food generally all week was nice.

On Sunday we take our break at around 9:00am and then we start our journey back home

That mark at the end of my blog.