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.
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.
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