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Review for Connect Africa Foundation Inc, Newton Centre, MA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My Name is Allen Nansubuga. I would like to give my review of Connect Africa Foundation here in Kyaliwajjala, Namugongo which was founded by Ms. Lynn Auerbach of Newton Center, Maryland USA.

I first met Lynn in 2008 here in my village in Kyaliwajjala and she looked "at home" and not a guest in my community. She had come at my Internet Cafe to use the services there. Inside my Internet Cafe I had stocked acrylic yarns for hand-making fabrics by crochet, and I also had hand-crocheted weekend bags, baby blankets and sweaters in there on display. It was obvious these things were hand-made. So Lynn asked who makes them and there is when we got connected -- she had knitting needles inside her bag and some gorgeous knitting yarn. She was from teaching hand-knitting to a group of gurdians of the orphans she takes care of. All this was happening in my community and I did not know -- a white lady was doing a lot of good in my community but because I was an office lady, and rarely went over to the Internet Cafe, and hardly knew about the happenings in my community, I did not know Lynn's presence.

Lynn is a very outgoing lady, and slows down her American English accent to catch up with the Ugandan English accent here in the village. So she is able to speak and be understood by all people young and old. She has also learnt the basic local language and one cannot backbite her. She told me about the orphan caring activities that Connect Africa Foundation is doing in Kyaliwajjala community, and the micro-loans (interest-free) she gives to the guardians of the orphans for business startups, and also the women who were knitting dolls for the Dolly-Mama's in the USA. Immediately I got interested in the knitting (as it was very close the to Crocheting I was doing myselff, and had taught a group of women how-to). It was vivid that we had somethings in common and we could work together to advance our community, empower women to better take care of their children, etc. Well, I still had my fulltime office job, so I interested one of my sisters at the Cafe to join the knitting group. We kept the relationship to that level till last year October 2012 when we reconnected --

Lynn and I caught up with each other again in October, 2012. This time we needed each other -- I wanted to expand my crocheting "hands" and get more women to hand-crochet baby sweaters for my business. And Lynn now had 2 women groups that were knitting for the Dolly-Mamas, one in Kyaliwajjala and one in Jogo village about 3 miles beyond Kyaliwajjala. She indicated that she has some months in the year when she would go to America and the women would not knit then, and that I could work with the women for those months to crochet for my business. This was an attractive idea from Lynn! Soon she was to leave for America and would not return till January the following year 2013. She invited me over to visit Jogo where we was building a Community Center for Connect Africa Foundation. I did visit and it was so impressive!!

Connect Africa Foundation (CAF) has a home in Jogo village and Lynn narrated to me the strides CAF is taken so far and gave me current statistics as follows:
• 67 student scholarships,
• 25 students in Educational Enrichment where children come for lessons in life skills, academics, group play, build peer relations, etc.
• 102 start-up business and education loans (of which I am a beneficiary)
• 32 individuals make native crafts
• 15 village women knit for the Dolly-Mama's in USA (who also crochet for my business May, June, Nov & Dec)
• 15 Adults in the Adult Education Program (30-69 years of age)
• 5 rental apartments, constructed in 2009 (income is earmarked for scholarships)
• A guest house constructed in 2012 and ready to host guests since August 2012
• Community Center Development

CAF involvement in the community was so impressive, and the level of organization too. So whyle Lynn was away for November and December 2012, I was able to work with the 15 women to crochet bay sweaters and they did a great job for me. I paid these women off with a microloan that I got from CAF for that very purpose. It worked out very fine. I was to pay it back in 3 installments Dec'12, Jan'13 and Feb'13 and this month is when I pay it off completely. Also this January, I was able to receive an Educational Loan of USD180 to get my orphan nephew into school (I needed a total USD360 but the CAF policy is 50% cost-share and then pay back what you've been loaned within 3 months so you can get back the Educational Loan again for the following school term if you still need it). The loan was a stitch-in-time. My nephew reported on the 1st day of school!

I've heard so far 3 stories about microloans from CAF from people who did not know that I knew CAF and that I too have ever got microloans from CAF. They were awesome stories. I will ask them to review as well.

CAF has given me a volunteer opportunity, to speak to the Internet community about CAF. So I will be frequenting this place. I told CAF that I will tell people about the good works in our community, and let them know about next CAF goals of a Community Meeting Space, a Library with Computer Lab, a Kitchen, a Vocational Training Center, and a counseling room. CAF already has a huge piece of land to facilitate these goals mentioned above. CAF tells me the Library with Computer lab can go into a 40-ft Container, with windows cut out and fixed properly, doors, the floor of the container done with tiles, and a roof/shelter fixed, and then pavers around the container to grass-thatched open shelters in the huge space available so library users can read from outside the library if they so wish.

Long live Connect Africa foundation. Long live Lynn and Uncle Charles the co-founders!!!

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Role:  Volunteer