Change Makers Association: building powerful relationships

Educate!’s work goes well beyond our 24 partner schools. We also reach out and network with many organizations in Uganda. As those relationships strengthened, it became clear that a more formal networking forum could benefit both Educate!, these partner organizations and our scholars. In response, The Change Makers Association (CMA) was put in place. Mentor Agnes, our main CMA representative, gives us an overview of CMA projects and activities.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

CMA members posing at the site of their first outreach activity

CMA is a network of organizations and individuals that are either fully involved in working directly with communities or leading community initiatives. Started in November 2009 by Educate! in partnership with Break Dance Project Uganda and People Concern Children’s Project, CMA aims to provide a platform for members to learn from each other and provide support.

Currently, CMA has a membership of over 28 organizations which come together every second Saturday of the month to discuss monthly themes and come up with concrete ideas for each organization to employ. Expert knowledge is shared with the group about the month’s theme by one of our very own Change Makers, who is experienced in the particular field of discussion.

CMA’s first outreach project took place in a Kawempe market

CMA also carries out community outreach projects on behalf of a member organization. The organization identifies a need in a community that they either work with or are concerned about. They then suggest it to the association and the group comes up with practical and sustainable solutions to the problem. CMA then plans and carries out an outreach in which all members participate.

Last month, we were able to carry out our very first CMA outreach project, suggested by Samuel James Kibanga, one of the very vibrant members of CMA. Kibanga works with NAFOPHANU, an organization that helps fund projects directly addressing HIV/ AIDS.

The outreach was held on August 8th, in a suburb of northern Kampala called Kawempe. The aim was to clear the clogged drains in a local market and inform the local population about the importance of sanitation. Kibanga identified this as a need for CMA to address especially before the rainy season.

Just to let you know, this market had a supposedly good drainage system that was shattered by the enormous heaps of rubbish that have dumped into it for the last couple of years, to the extent of causing floods in the market, where food and house hold materials are sold.

It was awesome seeing the market drains, that were only one foot deep when we started, cleaned and de-silted to a depth of five feet by the Change Makers! 

A before and after view of the drains CMA members cleaned

For sustainability, we did a brief talk on why it is important to maintain a proper drainage system and how it directly relates to both the vendors’ and their customers’ lives. By the time we left, the market vendors and their customers had water freely running through the drainage system.

In addition to the networking, information meetings and the community outreaches, CMA will also be offering training sessions, which will be open to the association members. The topics will be on a need basis, as indentified by the members themselves.

CMA has been a great way for Educate! to strengthen its powerful relationships with our partner organizations. The CMA format is also something we are going to put in place for our Educate! program alumni so they have a forum to network, share and continue training after they have completed the initial course.