(From the Rotary Note, a  publication of the Rotary Club of Warren)

Bright Kids Uganda, a non-profit organization located in Entebbe Entebbe, Uganda, was cofounded by Victoria Nalongo Namusisi and the and the late Honorable Manuel Pinto in the year 2000. Starting out as a home for orphans and vulnerable children, BKU has branched out to support other organizations and projects. For example, in 2012, BKU became involved with children left homeless as a result of gender violence (acid attacks). The Blessed Survivors project was started to take care of acid and burn survivors through medical care, micro loans, and educational support for their children.

Mariah, Victoria, and Pauline

In 2013, the Bright Kids Enterprises Micro Loan Project was started, with the primary objective of helping struggling families invest in small businesses. Last year, members of the Rotary Club of Warren were provided with the opportunity to view a documentary about gender gender violence in Uganda. It was so compelling that our Club became involved in the international micro loan project.

Dr. Bipin Pat Bipin Patel, who grew up in Uganda, became our financial partner. His Club and three others have generously donated funding. Louis Picard and his wife, Pauline Greenlick, both successful educators in Pennsylvania, have also been avid supporters of Victoria’s work. Dr. Picard spent three years in Uganda with the Peace Corps, where he met Manuel Pinto. Since learning about Bright Kids, they have assisted in administering the micro loan program. Pauline Greenlick created the ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples, which offers support to children with special needs and gender violence survivors, and has produced films to raise awareness of these families and Victoria’s work. They have been instrumental in helping the Rotary Club of Warren and the Rotary Club of Kampala to formalize a proposal for a Global Grant in support of of the micro loan project.

On October 11th, Victoria, Pauline, and Mariah Fosnight, an intern at the University of Pittsburgh, visited with us and provided an update on the microloan program. Mariah has been to to Uganda twice since 2015. She reported that in May of this year, a training curriculum was piloted in Entebbe. Participants were were taught the difference between profit and revenue, simple accounting and marketing skills, and information about savings and investments. They learned about the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses. This valuable education was provided to ensure success and a higher rate of repayment on their microloans. Victoria indicated that since her visit to our Club last year, 10 survivors have accessed microloans to make and sell crafts/baskets. A hospital is being built to provide medical care to gender violence survivors. In addition, a bill has has been drafted and presented to Parliament, advocating for protection of these women.

In closing, when speaking about her partnership with and support from Rotary, Victoria said, “Every little bit makes a difference. Together, we can make a difference.” Individual donations can be made to our Uganda micro loan project. project. In addition, you can make a difference by purchasing Bright Kids Uganda merchandise. There are 178 items items available for sale, including baskets, shoes, a traditional African Kente Cl African Kente Cloth (scarf), totes, sculptures, purses, jewelry, and more.

Venita Collins, on behalf of the Rotary Club of Warren, presented Victoria with a check for $750 in support of of the micro loan project in Uganda. Together we can make a difference!