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March 29, 2011

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March 29, 2011

It is easy to sit here in my heated home, on my couch and think about all the 'good' works happening around the world. However, experiencing Ugandan culture and seeing the struggles people face there is a life changing experience. I had the privilege of seeing the amazing work that Fount of Mercy is doing in Uganda firsthand. Being a working mother myself, I really liked the fact that Fount of Mercy was started by a few very successful young women in NYC who saw an opportunity to use their skills to empower women and widows in Uganda.
Prior to my travels, I hosted a "friendraiser" in my home to raise awareness of the work this non-profit is doing. I was able to share numbers, statistics, and success stories during this friendraiser, but it wasn't until I was in Uganda looking these women in the eyes until it hit me how many lives Fount of Mercy has touched. One women in particular, has been supported by Fount to teach sewing skills to women in order to empower and equip them to earn a living. I will always remember her smile when we took a picture of her proudly standing in the front of her shop, all done up and right on the main street. You could tell she was so proud of her accomplishment, yet so humble at the same time. I believe one of the reasons Fount of Mercy has been successful is because of their dedication to support indigenous African organizations’ capacity to provide educational, vocational and public health opportunities for the orphans, vulnerable children and caregivers in their communities. I feel very honored to have been a part of Fount of Mercy's work in Uganda.

The Great!

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

Traveling to Uganda and meeting several of the women whose lives have been changed and enhanced due to the work of Fount of Mercy.

Ways to make it better...

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

I would like to see Fount of Mercy be able to have more PR and updates on the work that is being done. I believe with more funding this would expand their ability to do this.

March 29, 2011

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March 29, 2011

I have been aware of Fount of Mercy and their work for the past five to six years, specifically with Sewing Hope. I find this program a fantastic out-reach program to empower women in the Jinga Uganda area to be self reliant. The training that is offered to these women is a wonderful opporunity for them to learn a trade which will not only benefit them, but it beneifts their family directly. It enables these women to provide basic necessities to their families and people that rely on them.

I visited Jinga for two weeks in Dec/Jan 2011 and have seen for myself the results of the training these women have received. I had the priviledge to visit with some of the women who are making clothes for people in and around some of the villages including their families. I was there to attend my daughters wedding and several of the ladies attending the wedding from the US were wearing dresses made by women who were trained by Sewing Hope. I was priviledged enough to be able to visit their shops and see directly the materials and pictures they have on their walls that show the clothes a customer can choose from. It's amazing the clothes they can make using manual sewing machines. I was very impressed with their work and dedication to their work.

The staff of Sewing Hope has provided an exeptional opportunity for these women who have little means of supporting themselves to learn a trade. Sewing Hope's volunteers, most from the Garment District in NYC, have experience in making different type of clothes and accessories and have shared their experitise with these African women, from dresses and purses to accessories. A rare opportunity for these women to have such high quality training and expertise.

I am very excited to have had the opportunity to see for myself the benefits of having Fount of Mercy sponsor Sewing Hope and the training they provide.



The Great!

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

Jinja Uganda, visiting with the permanent, full time Fount of Mercy and Sewing Hope staff who live there.

Ways to make it better...

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

N/A

March 29, 2011

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March 29, 2011

As part of my second year of graduation school, I worked with Fount of Mercy for six months in Jinja, Uganda. Fount of Mercy is a fabulous organization that not only supports local indigenous organizations but also strongly supports women and their professional development. In every program, Fount works hard to include women in their work. One project I spent significant time providing monitoring and evaluation skills with was the Bread Basket Project. This project provides an employment opportunity for village women, many are widows, to come together and bake bread. They sell this bread in the villagers and use the proceeds to put back into their children’s community school. This employment opportunity not only provides extra income to these women, but also brings these women together to share in their difficulties and also helps to support their children in receiving an education they might not otherwise be able to afford. I would highly recommend Fount of Mercy to anyone who is either interested in volunteering with Fount or are looking for a new organization to donate his or her personal money. It is a fabulous organization that supports local women in every aspect of their work.

The Great!

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

seeing women feel empowered to continue working hard to bake bread in order to increase their income and provide funds to their community school.

Ways to make it better...

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

slowly continue to seek funds to expand their current work with local community-based organizations that supports gender mainstreaming.

March 29, 2011

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March 29, 2011

I have loved working with FOM and being a part of such a fantastic growing organization. The philosophy they operate from is one that I feel very strongly about and that is teaching and empowering the people to help themselves, creating sustainability, rather than just relief aid. The programs they have initiated, have shown that the philosophy works. For instance the Bread Basket program, Sewing Hope and other programs that teach the women to produce a product that is usable, and needed, thereby giving them the capacity to make an income and sustain the means to make that income. The Community Health Initiative gives them knowledge about ongoing health issues that are specific to them, and helps them learn ways to prevent and treat medical and health issues, that without that knowledge, could be part of the death or decline of a society. It was so exciting to witness the women's excitement about new knowledge, new skills and new friends! And to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, a difference really is being made in their lives!

Photos

The Great!

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

Witnessing the growth of women in the villages. Growth in sustainability, knowledge about themselves, their health and surroundings, skills, social interaction and empowerment in the all these areas, in the women of the villages I participated in.

Ways to make it better...

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

Be sure each and every individual that volunteers is thoroughly evaluated and placed according to his or her strengths and capabilities. Not that I saw it as a fault, by any means, but just by the way I was screened and used, I felt like it made a huge difference in what I was able to contribute. So in a sense, the process used with me was a plus and if it is done on every volunteer, it would be a bigger plus!

March 29, 2011

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March 29, 2011

Traveling to Uganda was a first for me. It all came together very quickly. I had decided, planned, and got to Africa within a months time. Fount of Mercy's employee, Rebecca, was SUCH a help in making me feel comfortable about traveling and answering questions in a very prompt manner. Once I got there, I found that everything was planned out for me and receiving a daily schedule was great to know what I was going to be doing that day. It was nice, at night, to always have the option to join the group for a dinner so you didn't feel alone. As for the volunteering portion, I enjoyed being there to help the men and women. i'm assuming it's because I planned my trip in such a short period of time, but I wish I would've been told what exactly I needed to know and bring to the table for our classes that we taught. I felt that I had a lot to offer but I ended up being a "translator" for a good portion of the time because I specifically do my pattern making a different way than the rest of the group. I do think, in the future, it would be great to add some sort of design/art class to it to build upon the basic techniques of patternmaking and sewing to make each tailor unique. I would love to volunteer with that. Overall, Fount of Mercy (Sewing Hope) is an amazing organization with great leaders. I am confident that in a few years, when all kinks are ironed out, that this will grow to be a truly impactful organization for Uganda and other countries.

The Great!

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

Hearing about some of our students who have started their own businesses because of our teachings.

Ways to make it better...

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

Take an assessment of everyone's strengths before traveling to know exactly what people can bring to the table.

March 28, 2011

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March 28, 2011

I first heard about Fount of Mercy in the winter of 2008, at a missions conference. I sat through the presentation and the slideshow, and was brought to tears at what I was hearing and seeing. A year and a half later, I had the privilege of partnering with FOM by taking a team of 10 individuals to Uganda. Our time in Uganda was beyond words. I could probably write pages and pages on all the experiences we had, all the wonderful people we worked with, and all the amazing children we met. It was a truly eye-opening and life-altering experience. While we were there, we worked with three different organizations that were partnered with FOM (FOM partners with grass-roots organization in Uganda, empowering them to become self-sustaining and eventually independent of FOM). The first was HODASSU, which is an organization that empowers children who are blind, deaf or have other special needs by providing education, teaching sign language, and providing vocational training. The second was MOHM, and informal school and orphanage. And the third was Care and Share, an informal school in the village of Iganga. Informal schools are unsupported by the government which means that the teachers do not get any training, school supplies or even curriculum from the government! The amazing teachers at these informal schools are people who have a heart for children and a desire to give them an education, but they have very scarce resources. During our trip, one night, I was on the internet researching education in Uganda when I came across a quote…I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but it was something along the lines of: “Education is perhaps the best long-term solution to poverty in the developing world, especially the education of girls.” If you’re reading this review and are an educator, please consider partnering with FOM to empower the educators in Uganda. If you do, the experiences you’ll have will change your world!

The Great!

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

Our team has received pictures of the children we worked with attending vocational training seminars that we were able to support through the leftover funds from our trip! Also, personally, I've decided to pursue my teaching credential. After earning my credential, I hope to go back to Uganda and anywhere else the Lord leads to be His hands and feet in this world.

Ways to make it better...

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

na

March 28, 2011

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March 28, 2011

I am one of those people who feel that I should be doing something to help others less fortunate than I am, but I never seem to get around to doing anything about it. Through donating to Fount of Mercy, I have helped finance two trips to Uganda where volunteers go to help underpriviliged women and children. This organization does amazing work. They are starting a program called Focus on Change to teach deaf children to express themselves through photography. Most of these kids have never even seen themselves in a mirror no less through photographs. It takes special people to give of themselves like this and this is a very special organization.

The Great!

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

I have followed the programs through the website to see what they are doing.

Ways to make it better...

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

nothing

March 28, 2011

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March 28, 2011

During the summer of 2010, I had the unique privilege of traveling to Uganda to volunteer in the town of Jinja with Fount of Mercy. I'm a high school teacher and coach, so it made sense for them to place me to work in various schools in the area. One thing I like about the organization is that they take stock of each volunteer's talents and abilities and then work out a plan that will best fit with these specific qualities, instead of having a rigid program that requires volunteers to somehow find a way in which to fit.
I absolutley LOVED my time working with Fount of Mercy. I was able to combine my skills as an English teacher and coach to teach physical education to students of all ages. Because PE has not traditionally been part of the school curriculum but has recently become a requirement, the idea was that I could help the Ugandan teachers figure out some methods of integrating PE into the school day. It was really fun to play with these students, all of whom were eager for some organized instruction in PE. We focused on stretching, breathing, development of specific skills, teamwork, and the connection of literacy to physical activity.
To watch these young people eagerly ask to use the soccer balls and jump ropes which I brought (for they had no equipment), and then to watch them play with them in ragged school uniforms and bare feet - left me wanting to do more - to leave them with more. I left them each day exhausted and filthy - and smiling, full of such joy.
Michelle, who heads up the education portion of Fount of Mercy, organized each day so that there was a time for all of the volunteer teachers to reflect upon that day's classes and share with the Ugandan teachers about effective and not-so-effective methods of instruction. This was very important, as the long-term value of our time there was only as effective as the ability of the Ugandan teachers decided it would be.
In my three weeks with Fount of Mercy in Uganda, I was able to work with three different groups of students - some in regular education, as well as students who were deaf and/or blind. There were different challenges with each group, but the heart of our work was ultimately the same with each - to love them and help their Ugandan workers learn teaching methods that would help them for much time to come in the future.
I appreciate the freedom that Fount of Mercy provided - not only in our specific volunteer work, but in our time outside that. They know how important it is to have time to rest and went to great lengths to protect this time for us, providing mandatory "days off" and offering to plan fun activities, if so desired.
It's exciting to have watched the growth of this organization, ever since they began over five years ago, and I look forward to watching their powerful work continue in the future.

The Great!

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

Fount Of Mercy knows that it is imperative that the members of the community in which they working "buy in" to what they doing AND partner in the work, so that eventually they can be self-sustaining. It does not matter if this is in the area of education, employment, or health care, as Fount of Mercy has partnered with Ugandan groups in each of these areas. It is particularly touching to have observed the way that they work to support widows, other women, and children.

Ways to make it better...

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

I do wish that there had been more follow-up in the days that followed my return to the States, as I am eager to continue to support Fount of Mercy, whether I remain here or return to Uganda. It's easy to get caught up into "regular" life, and I would have loved more direct contact from the organization in the past months.

March 21, 2011

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March 21, 2011

I recently spent 3 weeks working with Found of Mercy in Jinja, Uganda and was so excited to finally be a part of the life changing work they have been doing for some time now. I loved the idea that you can bring the skills and expertise you have in your own field of work and share it in a meaningful and practical way with the people of Uganda. So many of Fount's connections are focused on empowering women, a group that particularly needs a helping hand AND is very responsive. The change in these women's lives as they begin to acquire new skills, put them to use, and gain confidence as a provider, business woman, artist and important member of their villages is immeasurable. I plan on continuing to support Fount with my time and money and hope others would consider it as well. This is more than building a house. It is raising a community.

The Great!

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

participating directly with the planning and implementing of various health outreach initiatives in Uganda as well as planning and participating in many of the fundraising events they have here in New York City each year.

Ways to make it better...

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

give them more money so more of the staff could be full time. They use the donated money, equipment, etc incredibly well already. As it grows, I see a need for more time devoted to expanding their outreach, organizing group volunteer trips, fundraising, and day to day logistics. The changes are already beginning. By empowering local organizations and people there, they are creating self-sufficient results which don't rely on constant funding. This will make them last.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

One extra staff person to be in completely in charge of volunteers and related logistics.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

It showed me how few possessions/things I need to live. I also got to use different facets of my professional skills that I haven't used before.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Grateful for what I have, for the opportunity to give, and for the friendships I made.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

August 13, 2010

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August 13, 2010

Upon just finishing my first summer (of what i anticipate to be many!) volunteering with Fount of Mercy, I left both beyond satisfied with my experience and teammates, as well as inspired and rejuvenated in life. I had a year in preparation for my Uganda trip, and one would think that after a year of anticipation that i would be disappointed. It was the exact opposite. I don't think my mind could have possibly imagined the joy i would find in volunteering, and especially with such a well organized, understanding and professional group. While in Uganda i photographed the 6 grassroots organizations that Fount partners with. Not only did i feel prepared for my adventures thanks to the amazing staff, but i also felt comfortable talking with the team before, during and after. Fount of Mercy is really doing something right when it comes to volunteer work. The level of compassion, responsibility, love, and passion that is put into their work is very moving, and i am honored to be a part of its history and future.

The Great!

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

Just after i left Uganda, i discovered that the woman in one of our groups learned to make unique new pieces of jewelry and were connected with a shop in Jinja to sell!! benefits were reaping before our eyes and providing instant income!

Ways to make it better...

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

try to get the staff paid for their work.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

i had a sense of freedom while working, but i also felt safe. Also, the organizations that Fount has chosen to partner with are incredible people.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

motivated, inspiring,talented, hard-working and compassionate

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

easily change the lives of everyone in Uganda, and perhaps beyond.

Ways to make it better...

i felt 100% satisfied with my experience, the only things i would have changed would have been on a personal level as a photographer. however, we learn from our experiences.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding, and expanding the network to get more donors.

One thing I'd also say is that...

if your heart wants to volunteer, start here!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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