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My Lilipad Ugandan Journal

The moment I came up with the idea for Lilipad, over a coffee in Bangalore, seems far away now. At that time I just knew a few things: I wanted to volunteer with children in the street or children’s education, I wanted to know where my donations would go (if I managed any), I wanted to be assured that any work I did was actually of value to the community, and I definitely didn’t want to take away jobs from locals simply to make myself feel good about having volunteered.

Lilipad solved all those issues for me, and now having returned from Uganda, I’m more sure than ever that this was the correct way to go. For me personally, of course, working at the Kybirwa Primary School was an incredible and rewarding experience. I also truly believe that thanks to the decision to start Lilipad rather than simply volunteer, we (the whole Lilipad family) were able to contribute something of lasting value to the school itself, too.

Uganda is a beautiful, diverse country that confounded and exceeded all my expectations. The people are funny, polite and extremely warm – meeting the locals both at the school and around the country made the trip unforgettable. Best of all, of course, was spending time with the children, who are filled daily with such boundless energy it’s pretty much impossible to keep up.

IMG_8913.JPGBreak time, my favorite time of the day while at the school

As well as the incredible hospitality we received, we were treated to stunning treks around the country, which allowed us to see the awesome and diverse landscapes that make up the Ugandan countryside.

Of course, the main reason to go was not to soak in the country’s many qualities, but to put in some hard work and build a library for the kids!

I started work 4 days later than I had intended owing to delays at Berlin airport, but thanks to help from the incredible headmaster, Moses, and Cody (an American volunteer and teacher apprentice), I was able to get much more work done in the space of time I had left than I expected.

IMG_8842.JPGFirst look at the storage room with Cody (before picture of the reading room)

IMG_8883.JPGReading room in process

We spent the first few days cleaning out two rooms at the school that were not being used and then painting them in order to make sure the kids not only had a library, but also a nice space in which they could enjoy their books. In this time we also went to buy the text books and more reading books from a book seller in the local village, Jinja. I was very pleased to find that the seller was open to bargaining, and I was able to get the books cheaper than I had expected!

IMG_8757.JPGThe bookshop in Jinja where all 872 books came from

This deal had the unexpected benefit of allowing us to buy some playground equipment for the pre-schoolers, who otherwise have almost nothing to play with. The swings we bought will hopefully encourage the kids not only to come to school every day, but also to enjoy their time there. Moses was the one who came up with the idea of the swings. We found ourselves with over 1,000 books provided already and about 200 euros left. I remember him saying that more than just to learn, most of these kids were going to school to enjoy simple social interaction with other kids. Also, most of them never owned any toys so those swings would make them really happy – no need to say that I was more than convinced about the idea.

IMG_8981.JPGSwings delivery

Finally, towards the end of the Lilipad time in Kyabirwa, we opened the library and reading room, and had the most amazing day with the kids while spontaneously organizing some reading activities. We divided the children into different groups (from Primary 1 to 7) and read a story to them, while trying to involve one or two kids who would be acting “on stage”.

It is hard to find the words to express how honored I feel to have been part of such a wonderful school and community. I am already looking forward to going back to Kyabirwa to see how the library is progressing, and how the kids are enjoying the books that have been generously donated by so many of you. In the meantime, I remain in touch with Moses, without whom Lilipad wouldn’t have even started.

Thanks once again to everyone who donated and helped in anyway, it means more than you could know!


LILIPAD IN A FEW (CHEEKY) PICTURES

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Event #1 for Uganda: Contemporary Art @Fata Morgana Gallery

The first Lilipad event took place at Fata Morgana, a lovely art gallery in Mitte managed by coGalleries, who offers studio visits in Berlin. It was a very cold Friday January 6th, and besides the hostile conditions, between 100 and 150 friends (and strangers!) came to show support.

The event exceeded our expectations and raised 540 euros! THANK YOU all and see you at the next event 🙂

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Donations // Overview after 1 month

I decided to start Lilipad when I was in India, last November. Back then, I wanted to call it The Little Ones Library, but having a charity called L.O.L just didn’t sound very appealing… A few notebook pages later, and one sketch later (thank you Paul F.), Lilipad was born and with it a (very) ambitious fundraising goal: 6,500 euros.

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Original sketch for Lilipad’s logo

Back in December when I made the project public, I had absolutely no idea about how the donations would go. It was simply too hard to estimate. But I decided to go for that goal anyway and use a simple strategy: 50% to raise online and 50% by organising events in Berlin.

One month after the launch of the crowdfunding campaign, I am happy to say that Lilipad is on track to reach its original goal in a few weeks only. Here’s an overview of the donations we got for Uganda so far:

  • 1,321 euros raised on Go Fund Me (1,425 euros before the transaction fee)
  • 540 euros raised at Lilipad event #1: a contemporary art exhibition organised at Fata Morgana gallery in Mitte, on January 6th.

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  • Last but not least, AppLift leadership team raised 1,020 euros for Lilipad last weekend during a casino night, which the company decided to double… Making it a solid 2,040 euros and a great Monday morning surprise.

Overview at 1 month: 3,901 euros raised for Kyabirwa Primary School in Uganda!

And to continue the great news, we are expecting up to 500 euros from Shams – Enfants du Monde, a sweet Paris based charity which aim is to help other non-profit initiatives that are trying to help kids in need around the world. This basically means that we have 2,100 euros left to raise to achieve the goal. Stay tuned for some amazing events to come in Berlin in February!

The donations will help finance an entire year of text books for as many kids as possible from the school. Technically, 6,500 euros should sort out 100 children for next year, but since the school makes a lot of copies, there will be much more kids benefiting from these donations. The timing is also perfect since the curricular program just changed in Uganda, so it’s the good time to buy a new batch of books.

Thank you for all the support. Lilipad isn’t a one person project, but a project with a big and great team behind it.

NB: To all donors, if you would like to receive feedback and photos of the library in Uganda once it’s built, please make sure to include your email address as a comment in the crowdfunding page, or send a message to lilipadlibrary@gmail.com