Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Remarks by External Volunteer

Kogere Guest Farm  Volunteer Assessment
Kogere Guest Farm  was the vision of the late John Baptist Kisembo, a well-known entrepreneur in Uganda. He sat on many advisory boards and self-taught himself about the tourism and biofuel industry. He was very interested in fusing the two concepts at his home through the Kogere Village Guest Farm, Candlenut trees, and the community farm. Unfortunately, he died before he could finish his dream. I met him at the World Tourism Day Workshop in Kasese town in 2008; he was invited as a key tourism player in the area. I promised to come and give my input on his community and business ventures; I did visit him and his projects three times before his death. In a year and half he was able to construct for bandas, two latrines, and showing facilities, an office block, curio shop, guard station, and volunteer housing, as well as landscaping for the whole compound. This is when he tragically died shortly after his return from Ethiopia.
The wife, Naome Kisembo; the driver, Jackson; and the restaurant manager had faith they could keep his vision alive. They’ve done so for the last six months. They are limited by technical know-how and business and organizational development. I think they would make a decent site for a volunteer, whether short term or 2 year.
Volunteer Needs
The organization has returned to its infancy, where Naome and Jackson are trying to sort through his papers and files and reconnect with supporters. They will need help in organizational framework and maintenance. They also need help with good record keeping and good governance.
Kogere Guest Farm  does have an updated business plan, but the current implementers cannot understand it and may not have internal revenues to implement it. A volunteer could help with translating the business plan into actions and future goals of the organization and alternative ways of funding it.
Apparently, the late JB Kisembo did create a website for this organization, but the current implementers can’t access it and don’t know how to use the computer well, let alone, update a website. A volunteer could also help with marketing skills improvement, computer skills training, and creating marketing materials.
Kogere Guest Farm  is trying to call interested people together to start a community farm organization to grow organic food to sell to hoteliers that cater to foreign visitors. The organization also hopes the community farm will be the start of a holistic training centre where households are trained in conservation, organic farming techniques, health, savings, computers and internet, life skills, and others. A volunteer that specializes in organic farming and/or co-op business functions could greatly assist NPV develop this product, but this probably needs to be a long term placement.

This group is very open to ideas and has great patience. Naome, director of projects and Jackson, the transport officer and farm manager speak English. So, I believe a volunteer from Europe or the United States will be able to communicate effectively with this group. Also, I’ve never been asked for support by this group even when there are in their worst state without their supporter. This group has had many interactions with westerners and I have no doubt they could get along with different types of people.
The great thing about this site is that they already have a very nice banda set aside for volunteer accommodation (photo to the left). It would need small repairs to make it livable. They even have a luxury latrine set aside for a volunteer as well (photo to the right).

I believe this could be a good site for many different types of volunteers.

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