Hi, I'm Devaki Douillard

Hi, I'm Devaki Douillard, the Mwebaza Foundation's Development Assistant. This year I'm returning to Africa to visit our partner schools in Uganda and Kenya. I'll be working on documentary interviews, scholarship programs, solar panel purchases, 2 new school building constructions, sustainable lunch programs and much more! Follow me on this journey from June 30th-July 26th.

The Mwebaza Foundation’s mission is to enrich the relationships among our Colorado and African partner schools through cross-cultural exchange and service learning that enhances educational opportunities, fosters a healthy learning environment, and promotes self-sufficiency.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I am leaving Africa tonight with an intense sense of accomplishment and a deeper understanding of the needs of our partner schools. Not unlike my other experiences here, the fire inside me is burning brighter and my passion renewed. Africa is a magical place and for me, very healing. I am profoundly grateful for the time I have spent here and the people I have been able to spend it with. I have always believed that everyone has something to offer if you take the time to listen, and I have come to learn that sometimes it's the people that have the least that end up having the most to offer. My hope is that my experiences here have sparked something inside of you and has inspired you to take action in whatever way you feel is right. It is too easy to become consumed by the luxuries that most of us enjoy and forget what truly matters in life - compassion for others.

My last experience in Uganda was my first time eating ensenene, or what we call grasshoppers. When it is the season for ensenene, they fry them up in buckets and eat them by the handful. In my opinion, they taste something like how fish food smells, I only tried one....

To be continued....

Friday, July 25, 2014

Final Day At St. Paul School

Before I left Nkokonjeru, Namatovu and Katamba took me to see the fishing port on the coast of Lake Victoria. It was early in the morning, but the port was bustling with fisherman. I met a family there who sent me off with two large tilapia and a bag full of sardines. I continue to be amazed by the generosity and graciousness of the people here. Even when they have practically nothing they manage to send all visitors off with a gift of some sort.

Once we returned to St. Paul to pack up and leave, the children erupted into song and dance as a farewell and thank you for my time spent there. It was a truly precious moment where I was able to sit back and absorb the invaluable impact we have had on these children's lives and their gratitude for supporting their education. 

When the students arrived on Thursday morning, I arranged to distribute the various gifts that the community members of Coyote Ridge Elementary had donated. Their excitement in receiving all of the generous gifts was so great it took awhile to calm them all down enough to capture this photo:

After that, I pulled a few students aside to interview them on camera and get their thoughts on the projects and new school the Mwebaza Foundation has founded. I quickly realized how difficult it was to get them to respond to my questions at all let alone expand on their thoughts. This was a completely different experience than the one I had interviewing the students in Colorado for our first documentary video. From what I've experienced, the nature of children in the U.S. versus the character of children in Africa pose a striking difference. The children of Africa are completely comfortable singing and dancing for anyone that will watch, however I have found great difficulty in getting them to speak about their thoughts or feelings. Conversely, children in the U.S. are incredibly reserved when they are asked to perform, yet if you ask them what they are thinking you will have a hard time getting them to stop! Fortunately, I was able to interview a few parents of St. Paul students as well and they were able to expand on many of the points the students had brought up. 

That afternoon, I met with the newly hired maintenance workers that will be overseeing each project implemented at St. Paul. Identically to the way I have arranged things at Mwebaza School, the maintenance workers at St. Paul will be expected to fill out a daily questionnaire of what was accomplished that day. This will help us monitor the success and progress of each program. Below are pictures of the maintenance workers I met with.    

St. Paul Cook

Orchard and Garden Attendant 

Piggery Maintenance Worker
Once we reviewed the charts, I gathered a team to help me fence the orchard saplings that have been damaged due to neighboring cows and goats that graze in the area.

Newly Fenced Orange Tree Sapling 

Student Scholarship Interviews

My second day at St. Paul was consumed with scholarship interviews. Similarly to Mwebaza School, St. Paul has been allowing many students to attend school for free,which has made it difficult for the school to afford teacher salaries and other school expenses. Therefore, the scholarship applicants we were interviewing were already St. Paul students. Although now, through the scholarship program, the school will be receiving funds for 8 students who have been coming to school for free. Below are pictures of the eight students with their guardians that have received a full-ride scholarship for one year's tuition.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Penpal Letters at St. Paul

Today was my first official day at St. Paul School and it was jam-packed with pen pal activities. School is supposed to start at 8am, but as it approached 9 students were still trickling in. This is how life is in the village since students have a variety of chores to complete at home every morning before they walk to school. I either subconsciously knew this, or the "African way" has been rubbing off on me, because I took my sweet time this morning enjoying a cup of local coffee and taking a bucket shower behind a wall of thick bushes - although not apparently thick enough because I still caught young children staring at me through the bushes watching be bathe. All I could do was wave, and once they saw me notice them, they giggled, waved back, and ran away. 

Once everyone (at least almost everyone) had arrived, we began to distribute the pen pal letters written by the students at St. Paul's partner school, Coyote Ridge Elementary. For more information regarding this partnership, please click here.

Students receiving their pen pal letters

After we assisted the students in reading their letters, we began instructing them to write their own. At St. Paul, the student's English proficiency level is much lower than that of the students at Mwebaza, so they needed much more assistance with composing their letters. Nonetheless, each student diligently wrote out their letters in their best English and nicest handwriting. 

One by one as they had finished writing their letters, I took them outside to take their pictures that will be attached to their letters and delivered to the students of Coyote Ridge. 
Namatovu and I traveled back into Kampala this afternoon to get the pictures printed so tomorrow the teachers can organize each picture and attach them to each respective student's letter. As we drove closer and closer into town, more and more people kept staring. I realized this is not only because I am a "mzungu" (white person), but because Namatovu is a lady and she was driving! We must have been quite an odd pair driving alone through town, although it gave me strong sense of satisfaction, knowing she was breaking down gender barriers just by learning how to drive! 

Arrival at St. Paul School

 Yesterday's attempt to find internet in Nkokonjeru, the town nearest St. Paul School, was futile. Even though I have a transportable internet modem that uses a very popular cell phone carrier’s network, there was not enough service to actually use the internet.
We arrived at St. Paul School yesterday afternoon and most of the children had already returned home. As we approached the school I could see the red roof of the new school poking out through the treetops. Then the trees and bushes parted and I laid my eyes on the incredible transformation that has become of St. Paul School! The new school building towers over the old school structure that is still where the students are taking classes until the roof of the new school is completed. The students will begin to use the new school even though it is lacking window and doors. Of course, we had budgeted for windows and doors, but the costs of construction exceeded our expectations, so the installation of windows and doors will have to wait until we can afford to do so.
St. Paul School Compound

In front of the new school (behind the old school) is a field full of leafy green vegetables that the school is growing for student lunches. And above the garden are five EnviroLoo toilets, which are in fact the first EnviroLoo toilets to be installed in all of Uganda! These toilets are waterless and waste-composting. For more information on EnviroLoo, please click here. Attached to the bathroom structure is a 500-liter water tank that is connected to a double spouted hand washing station.

EnviroLoo Bathroom Building

Hand Washing Station

New School Building (not quite finished)

Old School Structure 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Yesterday morning I packed up all the amazing beaded jewelry Caro made, said goodbye to my family in Gulu and departed for Kampala. I had originally planned to stay in Gulu until today but because there was still so much to accomplish at Mwebaza School before I leave for St. Paul School tomorrow, I had to leave a day early.

Today I met the newly hired maintenance workers that will be overseeing all of the ongoing projects at Mwebaza School. Samuel Lubega, Namatovu's brother, has been overseeing all of the projects at Mwebaza School so far, but on top of his job in Kampala it had become too much work for one man. So we hired a local man to oversee and maintain the egg-layer chicken program and a local lady to oversee the garden and orchard. Today, Lubega and I reviewed and explained the duties that each one will be expected to fulfill on a daily basis.


After we explained their duties to them, we worked as a team to fence each individual tree in the orchard. We have lost some trees since the initiation of the orchard program due to goats and cows grazing in the orchard and eating the saplings. These fences will protect the remaining trees from any further damage. 

While we were fencing the trees I made a VERY little friend!