VALENCE LUTAISIRE Biography-Founding Director-YOFAFO
YOFAFO's Founder and Director; Valence Lutaisire, was born and raised in a village called Kitoola in Mukono district in Uganda, East Africa, in the continent of Africa. His vision is found just there in his home village.
His father died when he was nine(9) years of age, leaving his mother to be the role model and life guide. At 14years old, Valence's mother also died but by that time she had instilled in him deep values and character.
Valence's education was a very difficult journey. He studied from a bush school throughout his primary and later went through High School. Against all odds, Valence successfully graduated with a Bachelors' Degree in Development Studies from Makerere University Kampala, Uganda's very first and main University.
It is this background that gives Valence the motivation and enthusiasm to bring change in these rural villages.
Some Comments from our previous Volunteers-Other comments are on Volunteers Section.
Comment Date-12/03/2005-first comment we registered when we had just began-
"Dear Next Volunteer,
Where to start? When I first got here all I have to say is that Culture Shock!! You will take a while to settle in! This is a completely different culture and you will take time to adjust so don't worry. I think the hardest thing to handle is the inability to read what people are thinking. You will give a talk or share some ideas and you think that no one is interested but they are! They just don't look it! Believe Valence when he says that they are excited! They wouldn't turn up otherwise!
I have been here for two months and so wish it was longer. In those two months we have set up a few programs:
1.Child Sponsorship: We have registered 85-100 children for both primary and secondary education. I am taking this project on but if you want to sponsor a child its $30.00 per month and $360.00 per year for primary education while secondary education costs $38.00 per month or $450.00 per year (boarding school). These children also need school uniforms and some basic equipment such as mattresses,towels,bed sheets,jerrican,basin,exercise books,etc. I have noticed how keen the children are to learn. You can pick a few books from Kampala (2,000 to 12,000 Uganda shillings) and just run through it with them. They really lack books so they will be very grateful for your time.
2.Women's group. We have officially set this up. The meeting range from 5-25 women. We are doing this so they can earn an income and give them confidence that are worth something. We have just started with Crafts. I have taught them how to make friendship bracelets which we are selling for 100shs each but I am sure you can get some more. Locals seem to be buying them more than the Craft Shops who prefer Bead works. I want them to start up a stall in Lugazi to sell these as well as other decorative items. We also want to start a farming project with produce they can also sell in Lugazi. If you know any crafts then please teach them. They are very willing to learn and meet mostly in the afternoons. I was going to bring a guy to paint their nails but it didn't work out so if you are willing Jane knows the guy. If you want yours done it is only 500shs, the guy who does the nails is so sweet,his name is Moses. The women are becoming less shy and if you talk luganda to them they they open up the more. I have left you my book. Ask Jane for help with pronounciation. We also want to teach them knitting and tailoring. To sell the crafts I was told that on Friday afternoon opposite the railway station is where the locals go to buy different commodies.
3.Empowerment Centre. We have started to build this but I think we need some more funding for bricks and iron sheets. I am working to raise funds for a Charity Tools for a Mission so they can send us Knitting and Sewing machines as well as Carpentry tools. We are going to build a Carpentry school as well. This is also to help the sponsored children gain a skill so they can earn money when they leave school. I hope it is finished when I come back as it is Valence's main dream.
4. Adult Education. I have made my own textbooks to teach anyone who wants to learn English. A lot of people feel that they are stupid and inferior simply because they haven't had the chance. I have bought them some other textbooks mainly so the secondary sponsorship can raise from Primary Seven(P.7) as they haven't been in school for a few years. I would be grateful if you could carry this on. They are really eager to learn. The class is very informal and we laugh a lot mainly at my pronounciation of Luganda words. This project has just started so please add any ideas.
5. Health Center. This is just an idea. We have spotted a building that isn't finished. The owner is willing to sell as he has lost his job. We estimate that the whole job will cost about $15,000.00 - $20,000.00 (that's between 27 to 37million Ugandan shillings). This is for a Grade 2 Health Centre which will have a Pre-Natal Clinic, Delivery room, and General Clinic. We also want to train some of the local women in good birthing techniques and to also have a nurse visit every month to give them a checkup during pregnancy. At the moment women give birth in the plantations and do not really know their due date,other important information on their un-born babies or about symptoms of dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure, etc.
6.Sensitisation. You will also give talks on things like HIV, Nutrition and Sanitation. Have written some ideas in the ideas book.
Lugazi. It may seem a remote location but the surrounding neighbours will keep you entertained. I'm regularly visited by the children from next door who love playing with balls,listening to music and playing peekaboo. You will be popular with the children just because you are a muzungu! I always wave because they give you a beautiful smile.Sometimes it does feel like being an exhibit at a Zoo! If you are a girl you will be proposed to alot! The atmosphere is very welcoming. Jane and Sarah are lovely. They cook your meals,wash your clothes and keep you smart! They have wonderful laughs and have cheered up my darkest days. Jane and I have been teaching Sarah some English and she is learning quickly. Valence has also promised to give them computer and tailoring lessons. Jane is saving to to to University, I am going to try and get her a sponsor but she will be very grateful for a contribution. I would also recommend going to Jane's church. Lots of singing and dancing and you get to meet her family who are brilliant. Jane and Sarah are not able to leave Lugazi often so if there is an event,such as the fashion show in Mukono,I invite them along. They are my very good friends. Valence will look after you almost like a father.You must remind him that if you need shade,water,etc. He will also listen to any idea you have so don't hold it back. Wilson is yet to cook chapati but I have heard that they are very good! He will break dance to cheer you up! Steven is Jane's brother.He is full of ideas about his photography business so if you know anything please share.
Seeta: Internet Cafe, really good chicken and chips plus the people are very friendly. Say hi to Nicholas,Robert,Sylvia and Lawrence as well as everyone from there. Swimming at Ridars Hotel at 5000 shs for unlimited time plus towel and a hot shower! They also have traditional dance shows on Sundays for free starting at 6:00pm.
Kampala: Owino market-a must! You can get jeans for 15,000shs, tops for 2,000 and dresses for 5,000. You can buy anything here it's best to go with a Ugandan first as it is very crowded and people do grab you to try and get your attention. I stayed at Nakivubo Guest House which is opposite Owino market. It is very basic but only costs 10,000shs. Mukwano Guest House looks nice but is 24,000shs for a self-contained. My friend normally stays at Hotel City Square, 45,000shs with breakfast. You can get Nandos here! Pirated DVDs are sold in gas stations,5movies in one for only 8,000shs.
Jinja: Swimming. Hotel Triangle-big pool and nice food. 5,000shs for swimming. Source of the Nile-you can get a boat for 40,000shs for an hour which is well worth it and its very beautiful. Rafting-warning;you will get sunburnt! My friend couldn't walk properly for 5days but it is well worth it. Go with Adrift less than $100.00 for a day. The market here is also good and less crowded. We stayed at Sunset Hotel which has a beautiful view of the Nile and you can see the sun set if you are on the 3rd.Floor. It's 60,000 with breakfast for a double.
Masaka: I went to Lake Nabugabo for a night staying at Sand Beach. Get a coach to Masaka for 3,500shs then a taxi for 15,000shs. Accomodation is 24,000shs for a really nice double with bathroom and terrace. You can swim in the lake, they have a bar and restaurant. It is really quite in the week and nice to relax in the sand.
-Do not trust the prices in lovely places. Phone first to check. -Speak to everyone. This is one of the safest places to travel and everyone is so friendly. -Learn abit of the language. People really appreciate it. -If people ask you for money,which is inevitable remember that you are giving them your time which is more valuable.There is a big illusion that Bazungu are very rich. -Don't smoke in the village. We have managed to get the boys to be respectable adults and if they see you they will copy. -Have a great time. Remember to make time for yourself and get to meet the other volunteers as it can get lovely here. Wish you all the best. " Charlotte