Langeti integrated initiative
Langeti is a global approach, a response to the challenges that Cooperative Growth – Uganda and its partners have identified in Moyo District, in the West Nile region of Uganda. Its name is inspired, in fact, by a very common institution among the peoples of Africa: The place of the bonfire. Traditionally, the flame was lit at sunset, but due to the impact of colonization and capitalism, many communities have lost it. According to our analysis of the situation, this was the most important institution among the Ma’di, who gathered the family around the bonfire to share anything we can imagine in relation to human life. It was the place where tales and fables were told, lessons were given, conflicts were discussed and resolved, punishments were established when necessary and, above all, food was shared. Each household brought a plate to the Langeti and everyone shared it until it was exhausted. Then, another dish was shared with the same idea.
Based on the characteristics of this ancient institution, we have identified three fundamental values that should have been part of natural communities, or at least would fit very well into their idiosyncrasy:
Synergy: It is a way of understanding nature, not only human, through which our existence is a permanent interaction with the environment, in co-implication, joining forces in the same direction.
Integration: This value tells us that no one is left behind or nothing is left out of the middle. Talks about a deep sense of belonging and identity. In a community, no one is expendable, so relationships between members have to be developed.
Empowerment: When everything is shared, knowledge is always transmitted from those who have it to those who have not yet acquired it. There is no possession of knowledge, there is only sharing, making the whole community stronger.
To be able to reinforce these values in the communities that Cooperative Growth – Uganda works with, Langeti has to be shaped by a series of actions that lead in that direction. For this reason, three sub-projects are being developed in Moyo.
An initiative that began in 2014, giving support to the pre-existing Moyo Boys Brass Band, although our paths soon parted ways and Vura became an independent project. It can be described in a basic way as a music school adapted to the ways of doing Moyo. It is the long reflection carried out over several years within it that led Cooperative Growth – Uganda to adopt the three values already formulated. Those values are specifically tailored when applied to the Vura Music Project as follows:
Synergy: As described above, it is the interactions and being a part of them that most define nature. Within the music school, especially when the Maduga Band is performing or rehearsing, all the participants must work together if they want to obtain good musical results. It’s a long process of learning to listen and be heard, knowing when to be noticeable and when to fade into the background, working in harmony.
Integration: The focus at Vura Music Project is on gender integration. Girls and boys work together since childhood, under the synergistic prism. This vision will help them learn to respect each other and themselves, share responsibilities and build things together.
Empowerment: Through this musical program, girls and boys will be able to acquire practical and theoretical knowledge that is highly unlikely to be acquired anywhere else in the entire West Nile region. The Maduga Band, part of the project, also gives participants the opportunity to generate a small income.
status of the projects
After a long period of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, the project has restored its normality. The students go daily to our arts school at the Bilinyo Cultural Center from the different schools with which we have an understanding. Since the year 2022, we are also receiving high school students, from the Moyo Senior school. It is a job that we tried in the past, when the project was based at the Moyo Multipurpose Center, now it is easier, since the Cultural Center is much closer to the school.
These are the schools from which around 50 boys and girls come:
Moyo Army Primary School
Moyo Town Council Primary School
Father Bilbao Primary School
Moyo Girls Primary School
Moyo Senior Secondary School
The music school is back on track and the Maduga Band is ready to play, although there is still a lot of room for improvement. We can say with great satisfaction that we have managed to create a space in which girls and boys feel at home, they belong to the place. All of them normally accept the participation of girls at all levels, both work and responsibility, as something natural.
The project was supported by expatriate musicians between 2014 and 2018, mainly from Spain and under campaigns organized by Solidarios con Arua – Arua Elkartasuna. They would be responsible for developing the classes and designing the project. However, from 2019 to date, the classes depend entirely on local teachers, trained within the Vura Music Project, thanks to the regular support obtained through volunteering. Although the local teachers are still not fully independent due to their limited knowledge, this gap is filled through training periods for which they are sent within Uganda. Also, although calls for volunteers are no longer launched, we still receive regular visits from volunteers who know about the project thanks to the awareness work carried out by Solidarios con Arua – Arua Elkartasuna.
The period between 2022 and 2027 is the most ambitious of our NGOs. After many years with a single project, we are now working on three and very different specialties. Also, we went from an annual budget that did not exceed €20,000 to go beyond €100,000. To be able to manage these funds properly, Cooperative Growth – Uganda has also recruited more dedicated staff, most notably in the Administration and Finance position.
Once the number of projects underway increased, the vision of work also became much greater. After a difficult construction experience with the School of Arts (2020), the buildings at the Agrarian School are now being completed, at a much faster speed and with fewer disappointments. For the period 2022-2027 we plan to build other facilities following this order and as long as funds allow it:
Bilinyo Cultural Center: Two new buildings would be added to the existing School of Arts:
Center for children with special needs: The steps of the call for construction bids and the selection of the company that will carry out the work have already been taken. The works began before the end of 2022 and will be completed before the middle of 2023.
Exhibition Center: A space for leisure, with a design that will allow musical, craft and other shows, traditional or current style.
Toloro Agrarian School: Cottage-factory for processing fruits and vegetables. The last of the buildings that are planned to be built, in this or in any future plan. It will be a huge step forward for Ruddu Hwe, bringing about improved food security in the region. It will have the capacity to process one ton per day, be it fruits or vegetables. Of all the construction proposals, this is the one with the least chance of securing sufficient funding. If the budget lines are being secured, it should be completed by mid-2024.
To cover the operating expenses of Vura Music and Manuela, we have a solid base and we do not believe that we will have problems in this regard in the coming years. Even so, in order to develop the activities of the Manuela Project properly, it is necessary to build new facilities. We have a clear goal to start building the Center for Children with Special Needs in 2022, but current funding will not allow us to go beyond the surface level. In addition to everything we have already said about the Manuela Project, we would like to insist on the new possibilities that the new building would give us:
Increased capacity to accommodate children with special needs of any kind
Increase in the quality of services offered
Possibility of offering services to other members of the community, including victims of accidents, injuries, pregnant women, the elderly, etc.
New economic income derived from the services offered to other members of the community apart from children with special needs
We do not want to stop insisting that operating expenses are well covered and that we are not looking for continuous support, but rather one-off support that gives us the push we need.
Regarding Ruddu Hwe, we have big plans for the future, including the construction of a mini-factory for fruit and vegetable processing, for which the land has already been acquired. After completing the construction of the Bilinyo Cultural Center, the funds could be used to restart the project, but for the year 2023 we have no assurance of continuity.
In order to have greater guarantees for the future, Cooperative Growth – Uganda needs to do prolonged work to attract new members. In Uganda, working with both refugees and nationals, there are a wide variety of organizations working in areas similar to ours, so seeking their collaboration to implement our systems would be a real possibility.