ACTING LOCAL, GOING GLOBAL

WORDS Joshua Brosnahan PHOTOS Supplied

A fresh approach to a volunteer organisation model is connecting local people – and business – to the community of Kkoba, Uganda.
The concept of Purpose Projects came about in 2017 thanks to Laura Robinson and Stuart Robinson (no relation) who aimed to bring volunteer work to a local audience, with an attainable goal in mind.

Volunteers sign up a year in advance and throughout that year, raise a total of $6000. Half of that goes directly towards building the high school in Kkoba. The remaining $3000 covers the volunteer’s flights, food, housing, insurance, and administration. A unique feature of this model means local businesses are able to offer up workable tasks for Purpose Projects volunteers, and then deposit any earnings directly into the volunteer’s Purpose Project coffer as a straight donation to the project, to reach the $3000 goal.

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Over the last year, Purpose Projects has grown from a dream to a tangible reality with the funding of its first school. In November 2018 and January 2019, Purpose Projects took two trips to Lugazi, Uganda with over 30 volunteers to assist the Ugandan workers in building a primary school, with capacity for over 1000 students.

This was solely financed by the donations from each of the volunteers – all of which have each returned with a much clearer understanding of international development.

Laura mentions that the response in Uganda was ‘beautiful’, although they are conscious not to attribute it solely to the work of the volunteers.

“We have put our efforts into empowering Hope Line, which is a non-governmental organisation based in Uganda. They’re currently implementing a local development plan for Kkoba village, and also run multiple programmes in rural villages, where communities come together to support and empower not just the projects, but one another.”

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While Laura, Stuart, and the volunteers were in Kkoba, they served in education programmes for children, helped develop a women’s group crafts business, and helped with a medical outreach programme.

With two more volunteer trips planned for next month, and in January, the team plan to return to the same community to fund a high school, and a farm. This will be the next step for the education of the Kkoba children.

Stuart mentions that trying to help others effectively isn’t as simple as ‘travelling to a country that looks underdeveloped and giving them the things we have in our country’.

“Identifying real issues, and creating real solutions requires time, research, and experience. As an organisation, this is something we are passionate advocates of.

“Working directly with Hope Line and facilitating our projects through them makes sure our volunteers are sensitive to the real lives of the people we work with. We make a conscious effort to ensure there is a real need for our work and that we are carrying it out appropriately.”

Naturally, there are challenges along the way for this type of venture, Laura explains.

“As young people travelling overseas, facilitating this work and funding amazing projects we are consistently challenged with the misconceptions this brings. Reminding others that it’s not about us, starting confronting conversations that ‘good intentions’ can still exploit others and paving a different approach to service is only really the tip of some of the challenges we have had.

“Our journey so far has been an adventurous one. The results have been incredible, and we are so proud of what the organisation has achieved, but we are still at the beginning of this journey.”

Purpose Projects welcomes your support.

purposeprojects.org.nz

FeaturesJoshua Brosnahan