Visit to Millennium Village

This week, I traveled about four hours to Mbarara, Uganda’s second largest city.  It was a successful journey, and I even navigated the public bus system all by myself!  By the end of the trip, I was buying mangoes straight out of the windows just like everyone else.  You really can’t beat getting a dozen delicious mangoes for less than fifty cents.  Anyway, I went to Mbarara to visit the UN’s Millennium Village Project (MVP) in Ruhiira, which is about a hour out of the city.  For more information about the MVP, you can see one of my earlier posts or visit the website at:

http://www.millenniumvillages.org/aboutmv/mv_3.htm 

Though I’ve done a lot of reading and research about the MVP, I was a bit unsure about what to expect.  Part of me was thinking about the movie The Truman Show, in which Jim Carey’s character lives in a producer-created world and unbeknownst to him, he’s the subject of a hit reality show.  I am not at all suggesting that the MVP is in any sort of way “entertainment” for people in the development world.  But, in some ways, these villages are experiments (really, they are pilot programs), and the people behind them are trying to illustrate how quick-impact investments in specified fields can lift communities out of poverty and help them to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The whole idea behind the MVP is intriguing, and there is much debate out there about whether this kind of development aid can be scaled up for entire countries. 

My day at the MV in Ruhiira was packed with adventures, and I owe big thanks to my contact at the UNDP in Kampala who set up the trip, as well as the staff members who showed me around.  While there, I visited one of the schools, the UNDP field office, the village health center, community center, SACCO (bank), plant nursery, and the home of a family who’s greatly benefiting from the gifts of goats and agricultural seeds.  It is probably too soon to tell whether or not this model is a sustainable solution, but for sure, my trip to the MVP offered me a new perspective about development in rural areas and the possibilities that exist.  Rather than write about all of these things, here are some pictures.  If you want to learn more about the MVP in Ruhiira, you can visit: http://www.millenniumvillages.org/aboutmv/mv_ruhiira.htm  

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Below, you’ll find some of the plants from the village nursery.  The bottom half of the plants are lemon and the top half are orange.  People in the villages are learning how to use grafting tape to bind certain kinds of fruits together to speed up the growth process.  So interesting!

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Below, one of the lab specialists is showing another staff member how they test blood samples for HIV/AIDS.  Since health centers in the village began offering such free services, more and more villagers are getting tested, which is one of the first steps towards reducing the transmission of the disease.

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One of the last stops of the day was at a village community center.  There, groups of women are being trained how to make a variety of crafts.  One of the organizers showed me the paper bead jewelry that women are making.  I might have purchased some following the visit!

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As always, it was a good trip, but it’s especially nice to be back at Nyaka.  I have about one more full week here before I head to Kampala for a couple of days, and then it’s back to the States!  More to come soon!

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Comments
2 Responses to “Visit to Millennium Village”
  1. Amara says:

    Ali—
    I’m so inspired and admiring reading about what you are doing. I can’t wait to sit down and hear about it in person. I hope you enjoy the end of your time there. You are making this world a better place!
    Amara

  2. Sharon Schneider says:

    Hey, I just visited a Millennium Village Project in Rwanda last week and wrote about it myself. Having visited a different site (Mayange), I’m interested in your thoughts about the differences and similarities. You can find my posts about MVP at http://www.thephilanthropicfamily.com

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