Reflections on the last 2 months of African work

Angie circulated a great email which prompted me to reply below, i surprised my self as I have hardly the strength to hit the keys i am so tired out.. but there is much to say and be celebrated
Well said and much appreciated. (I will add Angie’s email when i have her permission to share it on here)
 Permaculture is a different way of thinking. It helps us see the bigger overriding patterns. Life is complex, we face complex challenges, permaculture builds on common ground and common experience. It is very powerful and it works.
Never forget that we are all  people, we need each other for survival if nothing else  and we are connected together by food and our connection to the soil. Microbes and mycelium run his planet as they connect everything else together.

Personally struggling a bit to get back on top of things. really tired and running on empty but that said is because i put 100% of myself into these things – because that is what it takes. i will be fine, only been here a few days and had to go straight into teaching and funding reports back logs. back 7 days and 6 of those have been work days and the other a work day missed because i was asleep all day. normal service will be resumed.
permaculture course uganda
PDC group at Sabina school, course graduates PDCUG18
BUT, WOW, thanks for putting it so well Angie, we delivered a top rate PDC took many unanticipated challenges in our collective stride and came out not bankrupt, which was a real possibility a couple of months prior to start as the fundraising had been less successful than I had hoped and literally the last pot of money to come in, like Sisters Carbon, Angie etc really saved the day.
The convergence actually made a profit. I have $400 us dollars at least from that for reinvestment. more but we haven’t done the books yet.

 

The EA convergence was totally shambolic and revealed many flaws and oversights in our planning. Luckily none of this mattered, no one noticed except for us, mainly poor Helen, BUT, it was a really successful event and one that vastly exceed my and many other’s expectations. Maybe if there was one thing Helen hadn’t realised was after all this is Africa and everything is shambolic most of the time anyway.. so people are patient and easily pleased by what does work and dont worry about all the things that didn’t. The quality of the conversation around the edges and the networking made alone it a run away success before the first PowerPoint show or bed bug bite. Everything else was a bonus and people really loved it and were and are buzzing since.
We should all feel really proud of what we have accomplished at Ssanje. I see Charles and team are keen to follow up withe Dec course at Sabina so I hope also what we have done there will create momentum of the school. Of course a PDC is about the participants not the venue.. and there were many complications arising from the blurred edges between course and venue. I am glad to see Charles is working there again, i wont be hurrying back for my own reasons. but it is important to build on what is there.

 

The contrast that really brought things into sharp focus, was working at the Vocational Skills Training complex in Adjumani. It was just a compound of about 4 acres with a series of simple buildings, designed and built as an adult training center. the catering was by professional caterers , on a three stone fire as ever, but the food was cheaper and far superior than at Ssanje and the prices are 20 or 30% higher at the refugee areas. We had 2 sodas a day, 2 waters each, choice of 3 meat and 3 veg dishes and everything worked because there was an onsite team whose job it was to make things work. Logistics people in back up. it was a very different experience. It really underlined how much of the venue management responsibilities we had to take on at the school.

 

We taught 42 refugees who between them spoke 8 languages (we even added a little welsh seeing as everyone else seemed to have their own language) . It was more like 50 or so, we had 2 simultaneous translators and everybody worked it out between themselves. made it very slow. but boy does that focus you on what is the key content, no amusing anecdotes and no videos really as it is all too slow. I showed 10 minutes of Geoff Lawton soils the intro bit i always show to start the conversation on souls, with translation and discussion that took 45 minutes ad we only had 2 1/2 hour classroom time am and 30 mins pm. many did not read or write. we had to invent everything about how we teach.

 

The team were so great, Han earned hers stripes and Grace did so much of the front-line contact time; holding the space and Han especially got to know all the people very quickly. A big unfamiliar group became a family before our eyes. it was truly amazing.
Paul Ogola gets a special mention from me, great teacher, calm but forceful,. very good at getting people into action. We were all good so maybe it is unfair to name check anyone, everybody did so well.. Not least because it was hard, we had to think on our feet and we delivered a life changing experience for all involved. You have to understand the drivers, people hired by NRC to drive the buses around attended the course and took notes. so did the translators, when they weren’t translating. The center staff and manager also took part and apologized and asked for a recap if their job had taken them away for a session. It changed the ethos of the whole centre. actually it gave them an ethos because all they had ever had before was a budget.

 

The kitchen crew will use the energy efficient stove we built for them, the compost the water recycled.. it was like the whole compound suddenly got permaculture in one collective realization. It is a changed place, for once everyone is in agreement. Permaculture really works, it buts priorities in the right order to think about things in terms of opportunists rather than limitations.

 

Angie do you mind if i repost your email on the blog. its not too personal is it? i wan tto share this far and wide.. we have done something truly amazing

 

Although the setting and format was different, the Ssanje course set us up perfectly for Adjumani course. we did 16 practicals, all rehearsed and tolled up and we didn’t fit everything in that we could have. it was all learning by dong the classroom sessions were either explaining water filters and swales or they were a closing plenary when i related what we were doing to the principles and ethics. it really worked for them, they really got it. we also really hit on a good idea fo rthe designs. Instead of trying to teach SADIMET to a bunch of semi literate cattle herders (and a vast assortment along side) each participant worked on their own personal action plan. so the design was on themselves and how they were going to bring permaculture into their respective communities. Each participant will be incentivized to train 5 second tier trainers, through our on going support.

 

so what comes next is 6 months of hard work, 2 of which will be back in Uganda, maybe a trip to Zimbabwe to network, who knows… but we have a contract signed with NRC worth US$55,000 that’s going to get burnt up pretty fast but we can create real momentum with a budget like that over 6 months. we are going to get good value from taht money for sure.

 

Watch this space, tell me how you want to be involved, Everyone who was at Ssanje and Adjumani is in for the longer term as far a I am concerned I think a few us learned what our strengths and weaknesses were, but that is why we came with a big team. we must not lose the great value of learned experience we created there.

 

Jagger is keen for us to do a PDC in Kumi and I see why as they have a really active core team there already. I see a real value in creating clusters in places where people can support each other and build projects rather than just sending loads of loan rangers out there. Permaculture needs nurturing especially in the early days of a project or a career, we need to support each other better. and build that into the overall strategy of what we are doing.

 

I would like to do on on Mufangano island. Those who remember George and Bernard, two teachers who came for the pdc all the way from there and could only stay 2 days as there school was still in session. I will explain why i think is a great opportunity another time, but yes it will need planning and an advance team to go there and report back. 20 months away that one i would hazard a guess, plus no idea how to fund it.. but its a community of 12,000 people on an island. a place where people really understand limiting factors and finite resources. The 2 guys who came are both headteachers and community leaders.. we could reach the whole island through them, create a mini permaculture nation.. i am serious it could be really significant/ I see it as such anyway. But reality will kick in, it will be a challenge, that said it is not far from Kisumu, 2nd city in Kenya I think its a significant place and Paul Ogola and his mates as well as the islanders all speak the same language, Luo. All of these tings work in our favour. So i want us to find ways to make that happen.

 

My greatest joy is to see progression in individuals S39 team members growing as people or getting to know each other better, but also seeing the course participant blossom into great teachers.. I remember writing some of these objectives on the first funding application 3 years ago, What a thrill to see it happening before our eyes.

 

Well done, I love you all, new opportunities will come from this!

 

On Jun 26 2018, at 3:43 pm, Angie & Andy Polkey <info@purposefulpermaculture.co.uk> wrote:
PPS please use this email from now on…
On 26 June 2018 at 15:42, Angie & Andy Polkey wrote:
Hi team (and Dan and Steve J – can someone pass this on please?)
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart 😍for being such a fantastic teacing & support team.
Everyone made my job so much easier by being willing to step up to challenges (even before we arrived!) – whatever I/we threw at you and you all went the extra mile whenever needed. Added to which your humour, friendship and acceptance of my limitations,  as well as helping me with all the planning beforehand, all made such an incredibly memorable and fulfilling first time for me in Uganda. My fears were dissolved once I’d arrived and I hope I was able to give my best too – at least most of the time!!!
I’ll be pleased to help progress next steps, whatever they are and to feed in to any review process…meanwhile, a question for the teachers, with Steve’s agreement:
Jane Vetiver wants to finish her PDC with us and Steve suggested she could do this on line. I’ve spoken to her and am happy to send her the presentations but she may need some support – and certainly Steve will need to talk through his plenary presentations with her. We discussed her aiming to do one of the principles per week (7-12 which she missed) and she’s keen to do a design for her mother’s land.
Question – if i forward the presentations to her, would individual teachers be up for dealing with any questions relating to your sessions please? This could be by email or Skype, for example.
Steve – are you happy with this approach?
Love to you all –
Angie xxx
PS it’s as hot here as Uganda so I’m pretty acclimatised already!

East Africa’s first Permaculture Convergence, plans and advance notice

permaculture design course 2018 permaculture convergenceA convergence is a coming together, in this case we are hoping to bring together leading practitioners and advocates for permaculture design in East Africa. The aim is to accelerate the already considerable momentum in the region by profiling some of the amazing work already underway in the region.

Since 2015 Sector39 have taught two full PDCs in Uganda and are planning the third currently. We have also formed a supportive partnership with two Ugandan organisations to enable us to extend our regional ambitions. East Africa is literally hungry for permaculture and there is so much that can be done to significantly improve people’s lives and resilience utilising resources that are largely already available.

It seems an obvious step forward for our East African partnership to try to raise the profile for permaculture by creating an event that demonstrates the many possibilities for its positive application. We are inviting some of the region’s biggest enthusiasts as speakers and workshop leaders and planning for an event that can bring together students from our first three courses with school heads, politicians and other scoial and financial gatekeepers with whom we might build new and mutually beneficial relationships.

The planned venue couldn’t be more ideal as it is home the most mature designed food forest in whole region and the school has embraced permaculture design and ideas within its core curriculum, even the Head Teacher has completed a PDC!

Sabina school is near to Rakai in central Uganda, the region that was the epi-centre of the global AIDS epidemic. They are still in recovery from the terrible loss of life, creativity and human resource but are well on track to have the situation fully under control by 2030. Modern drugs have massively reduced the mortality rate, it is no longer a death sentence and people are open about their HIV status. That said there are still many orphans in the region and a great deal of work to be done to compenstate for the terrible effets of the epidemic.

sabina permaculture garden

Sabina students in the school’s forest garden. Bananas, avocado, pumpkin, jack fruit, there is food everywhere!

The 2-day conference is intended to both bring permaculture practitioners, students and pioneers together as well as creating a platform to celebrate and showcase achievements to inspire and demonstrate possibilities for new and interested parties. There will be talks, demonstrations, a permaculture futures forum and a school partnerships proposal launch.

As well as site tours and demonstrations at Sabina there will be a chance to visit The Permaculture Research of Uganda, (PRI-UG) which has an ecological farm and demonstration site less than an hour from the intended venue and that is en route for anyone traveling from Kampala. The day immediately before and after the actual convergence will be open days for the site with guided tours and discussion forums planned

Political persuasion.

Permaculture belongs in schools. Imagine the anxiety for young adults when confronted with the fact that the next 30 years of their lives is going to dominated by climate change, a dwindling oil supply and the possibility if never-ending resource wars accompanied by ceaseless waves of refugees.

Currently it feels like no one in the main stream is offering solutions or ways forward they are battoning down the hatches and tightening border controls. We need to offer more than vision of a sustainable future, we need to provide the mechanism for change and pathways for empowerment and inclusion in that process and where better to begin than at school?

We have the support of the minister for education for Buganda and the national minister for education was a founding force behind Sabina school where the event will be held  so there exists a solid foundation to link the event to movement on a political level. When arrived in Kampala some 6 weeks ago our first meeting was with Mr Mula, permanent secretary to the Vice President of Uganda, he offered us his full support and strongly endorsed the work of Charles Mugarura and partners BEU Permaculture. We are looking to the younger generation to take the lead he emphasised.

launch_portrait_selfie

Launch of BEU permaculture, Uganda’s most dynamic permaculture team and partners with Sector39 delivering this event

Sector39’s education team have since began work on 12 educational units for use in school that will introduce permaculture’s key principles to the curriculum, not as a subject but as cross curricular themes.

The East African Convergence gives us a timeline now to develop and profile this work. We have a key partner school in Wales to develop and trial the materials with as well as an emerging school network in Uganda so we are absolutely ready to take this work to the next level.

Pre booking and sponsorship packages are available to help us develop these potentials and we are also reaching out to teachers and educators to help realise these ambitions.

Delivery Partnership

  • The Sector39 education team are taking a lead role in organising this event, please contact us for bookings, sponsorship and other offers of help. There will be volunteering and internship opportunities as well.
  • On the ground logistics, site development, volunteer hosting plus marketing support and branding services are being provided  by BEU Permaculture, Kampala.
  • PRI-UG are offering demonstration visits, networking a practical support fir workshops and site development.
  • PermoAfrica centre and K5 community permaculture are linking us to on the ground community permaculture practical work in Kenya and will be profiling their 2 years of developmental experience for the conference.
  • Key note speakers tbc. We are  inviting a leading Author on East African botany, a leading agronomist and politician in the educational field to outline the key themes of the conference.