Ochan Self-Help Alliance, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars   4 reviews

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Location: 6414 Park Heights Ave Ste B4 Baltimore MD 21215 USA

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

This summer I spent 4 weeks volunteering for Ochan Self-Help Alliance, with William and Bonny Boto. I spent time learning and working with staff in Ochan Community Clinic and conducting a survey relating to maternal healthcare. I felt comfortable and safe throughout the entire duration of my stay, and met some truly incredible people. It was a life changing and rewarding experience; one that I will never forget.

I have seen the difference that Ochan Self-Help Alliance has made through their clinic, farming program, housing, and many other successful programs. It is evident that they have helped empower members of the community, especially the women, to take control of their lives and be a part of change in their village. While assessing and overcoming challenges along the way, Ochan is dedicated to making sure these changes are effective and sustainable. Bonny and William are extremely passionate and committed to their work, with a dedicated vision and beautiful enthusiasm. I know from first hand experience that the people of Opac village have big dreams in rebuilding their community, and are motivated to making them come true.

This is an organization where your time and donations will help create real change and make a difference in the lives of a community.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I spent three weeks in Uganda with Bonny and Dr. William Boto this past January as they helped guide my research for my master's thesis. I was able to see first-hand the health care, forest conservation, and green commerce programs they've established in the village. I feel quite confident in saying that this village could not and would not function to its current capacity without the work of the Ochan Self-Help Alliance. Because of their deep familiarity with the area, Bonny and William understand the challenges of life in post-conflict northern Uganda better than most and are able to address these challenges an effective and efficient manner. The results on the ground are clear: the health care facility was busy on a daily basis and the group farm was productive. The grain store built by Ochan has given village residents more monetary resources, greater economic freedom, and allowed them the opportunity to invest. Although change can be slow and difficult to measure, the impact of the Ochan Self-Help Alliance was very real and Bonny and William are so committed to the work they are doing. It is an organization worthy of your time and donations and one that I will continue to support and endorse without reservation.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

The Ochan-Self Help Alliance was created by William and Bonnie Boto to enable a village composed of Ugandan refugees to sustain itself. You can give a person a fish, and they will eat it and not be hungry until their next meal. You can teach someone to fish, and they will never be hungry.

Ochan teaches and assists the refugees to sustain their lives. They have learned to farm a cash crop, sunflower seeds. They have been taught how to market this cash crop in a way that they receive the maximum benefit. They have learned how to build and maintain appropriate sanitary waste disposal. They have built and created a safe, clean, and sustainable water supply, and the village has created and maintains a health clinic.

The true beauty of this foundation is that what is given to it is utilized to sustain a village of Ugandan refugees who are dedicated to recreating their lives. Administrative and staff costs are negligible, as Bonnie and William, two retirees, and the volunteers they have recruited have dedicated their lives to creating and sustaining this effort. Another great facet of this organization is that small contribution can lead to the sustenance and sustainability of a number of these refugees.

This organization is more than worthy of your time, talent, and treasure.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have personally talked to the Boto's who have shared their incredible work through Ochan with me.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

This organization is a labor of love by the Boto's and its volunteers, who truly understand Ochan's mission and village's needs to reach sustainability for its residents. It would be inappropriate for me to suggest change, as the villagers and this organization are far better equipped to fulfill its mission than I .

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Rating: 5 stars  

Ochan Self-Help Alliance is a fairly new organization, but one with a clear vision and a passion for helping the internally displaced people of Northern Uganda. The leadership and enthusiasm of its leaders, William and Bonny Boto, as well as its entire board and donor community, is evident in every action they take and the reports that they constantly provide to those who have dedicated time and/or resources to their cause. When non-profits don't succeed, it's oftentimes because they try to take on so many different causes that none gets the attention that it truly deserves. In focusing on one village and making that village strong through improving health, especially maternal health, developing sustainable green commerce and housing practices, and promoting a sense of community among the people they help, Ochan Self-Help Alliance truly embodies the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and the goals of all those who intend to make sustainable international development a reality.
As a donor to this great organization, I have always felt honored, remembered and appreciated. Whether it was the satisfaction of the constant updates I received through newsletters and blogs, or the fact that the donation I made with a number of other individuals made a direct impact on the construction of a house for Sofia, a grandmother raising her grandchildren after the deaths of their parents, or the sheer culture change that Ochan is making in this village I have always felt like part of something important. Real change takes time, and it takes a shift in something beyond policy. It takes a shift in culture to really make a change. Through its sustainable farming practices that encourage women to support themselves, Ochan is helping these Ugandan women to not only take control of their own lives, but to garner the respect to make this change permanent. Ochan does not just create change, but makes these changes cultural, permanent and meaningful.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

receiving information regarding the specific things my funds have done in Opac.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

add a component to the organization's mission that would work specifically with children to build and maintain a school, as well as train, pay, and protect teachers.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful views about OCHAN’s work. This comment refers to your interest in the area of education. We have observed that many elementary and high school classrooms actually fill up with students thirsty for learning but few teachers show up or put in good efforts. Because of extreme and endemic poverty, particularly in Northern Uganda, teachers prefer to be cultivating crops in their plots first thing in the morning in order to top up their low salaries. OCHAN’s coming plan is to intercede at the level of the teachers at the local school, not to lambast them but to let them know that their skill is highly valued and needed to raise a more literate and numerate generation of Uganda’s children. OCHAN has gotten quite resourceful in agricultural production. This is an area where we could lend support to redress the teacher’s shortcomings caused by one of the lowest professional salary scales in Uganda. Clearly, the teachers’ families would have to pitch in with cash crop farming so that the teachers can focus on teaching. We are still thinking this through. Please note that we have not even touched on the misery of many teachers with back-salaris in arrears of a year or more. It does not sound real, but there are frequent reports in Uganda newspapers that lament the teachers’ dilemma in this regard. Meanwhile, the students, particularly those in rural areas like Opac, continue to lose valuable years of basic education due to inadequate efforts by educators. Your concern, therefore, is well-placed. Best wishes, OCHAN