Written by Brittany Leitch

The See-You-Later Moment | GCN | FAIR School

This weekend will mark two weeks since COSAD said goodbye to our volunteers from GCN & FAIR School. The Sunday before they departed, we spent all-day relaxing, eating, doing a bit of work in the container, and enjoying each other’s company before they started their journey home. One of the students said it best when they said, “This isn’t goodbye, this is a see-you-later moment.” Everyone agreed! I couldn’t have imagined a more open, accepting, fun and generous group of individuals to spend two weeks with in our communities. You each are simply wonderful. As Smart wisely said, Bukoba is now your second home, you are always welcome here! I can’t wait to see what is next for y’all!  See you in Minnesota! 

The entire group gathers- sharing stories and songs.

Each of our volunteers gave a short speech.. 

And teaching Smart a few new MN slang terms.. :)

Written by Brittany Leitch

Giving Goats | GCN | OWOG

Friday was the last day volunteers worked on goat pens in Kagondo Village.  When we arrived in the village, we found our third pen practically finished (thanks to a very ambitious and excited participant), helped finish a fourth pen, and started a fifth pen. The students were forced to measure and construct the goat pens without help from the local experts for the entire day, and they did it! I was very impressed, and the pens turned out great. Everyone was exhausted to the point of clumsiness by the end of the day. :)

On Saturday morning, the group re-visited Kagondo Village to survey and approve each home & goat pen. Once each pen was approved, the women hopped on our bus and drove with us to the goat farm to receive their goats!
In a beautiful ceremony, each students gave one woman her goat. It was neat to experience the end result of GCN/FAIR Students’ generous donation and hard work. The women walked away singing & smiling..
Lunch Break!

**Saturday Giving Goats**

The first of ten goats being given by the volunteers.

Gathering briefly after all women received their goat.

…and finally- the women starting their journey back to their homes, with their goats!
Written by Brittany Leitch

Goat Pens (Third Day of Construction) & Baskets in Kitwe | GCN | OWOG

Thursday, the volunteers finished their second goat pen and started on their third! After the labor-intensive part of the day was finished, we went to Kitwe Village to re-visit the group of women who weave baskets. Our first trip to Kitwe Village happened before the group had exchanged money, so after several requests we made sure to reserve an afternoon to buy baskets- which contributes to the local economy and community empowerment programs. The group also bought freshly harvested coffee (yum!). After collecting baskets and coffee, we visited a nearby school one of the team members had help build nearly five years ago.  She had taken a previous trip with GCN to work with COSAD, and they spent their time working at the school with all the kids helping out!  The building is now fully-functioning, and makes up a significant portion of the school’s usable classrooms.

It was a beautiful day!





Ma Amelia finishing a basket purchased by one of the group members.



The long (red) dirt road reaching far into the village where the school is.
Pictured is the school building constructed with the help of a previous GCN group.



Written by Brittany Leitch

Goat Pens Under Construction | GCN | OWOG

On Tuesday, our GCN / FAIR School Volunteers started building goat pens in Kagondo Village. There were plenty of local professionals on site the first day teaching the group how to build the goat pens. We also had men specializing in gutters, masonry, and painting present. As we have discovered over the years, even the most skilled construction worker from overseas needs some guidance from local professionals to catch on to the system of construction work in Bukoba. After the first day of learning to build goat pens, the volunteers jumped right in and were “pros” themselves by the third day!  

My favorite part of the first day was going to fetch water. We each took a large bucket down to a spring less than a half-mile away, but we completely underestimated how difficult it would be to walk them back to the construction site. I have never felt so ungraceful and inexperienced than when I was struggling with my (our) buckets while walking next to a mother and her young daughter effortlessly carrying larger buckets than mine on their heads. Furthermore, it was obvious where our group had walked, as our water was splashing EVERYWHERE! It was nice to be reminded we all have vastly different talents, and I certainly enjoyed taking that moment to appreciate the women (and men) who have perfected the art of carrying water, because I certainly have not!
Pictured below is Tuesday & Wednesday.. Stay turned for more pictures soon!
Mixing cement for the Water Retention System (WRS).
Getting to know the neighbors..
Building the base for the WRS’s SIM tank.



Quick photo of the first pen (not quite completed)!




First of two water trips!
Helping our neighbor get ready for her walk back home, with a full bucket of water.
Our journey back home with buckets of water…
Written by Brittany Leitch

A Community Celebration | OWOG | GCN

On Friday afternoon, the GCN-FAIR students attended an event hosted by COSAD & Rotary Club of Bukoba celebrating the launch of the OWOG expansion that will give over 200 women goats through the OWOG Program. There were countless community partners and cherished friends among the special guests & attendees. Though not “legally” a part of this specific COSAD-Rotary partnership, the GCN-FAIR students are still equal partners in the OWOG expansion, as they provided for an additional group of 10 women to be enrolled in Kagondo. 


I grew quite sentimental during the event.. After over a year in the community, I saw more familiar faces than unfamiliar ones. Specifically, it was moving for me to personally know the hours of hard work each person invested in their own way to build our community programs & to launch this OWOG partnership between COSAD & Rotary Club of Bukoba. 

It was a night to remember, packed with cultural dancing, singing, speeches, food, and fellowship!

GCN-FAIR students and leaders arriving.
CRDB Bank Manager Mr. Sendwa arriving.
Whether they were already a part of the OWOG program or soon to be, women came from many partnering villages to celebrate together.
Being a facility for the community already (and with enough outdoor space), the COSAD Clinic made the perfect grounds to host the event.
Choirs singing for the crowd..
Dancers entertaining the crowd..
And a few others joining in the fun!
The arrival of the Regional Commissioner of Kagera, Hon. John VK Mongella. Sincerest thanks to Hon. Mongella for his leadership in our communities and for supporting our COSAD-Rotary partnership!
Pictured is the Past President of the Rotary Club, Mr. Johansen Rutabingwa, addressing the crowd. To his left is the current President of Rotary Club in Bukoba, Mr. Archard Ngemela.

There was no shortage of amazing performances, and as dinner began, so did a riveting performance of cultural dances with ground-shaking drum beats!
Soon enough, the rest of the crowd joined in, dancing into the night.
Written by Brittany Leitch

Day 2 Activities | GCN | FAIR School

On their second day in Bukoba, our volunteers visited the COSAD Cooperative Goat Farm, and were special guests at a ceremony to launch a renovation project at a local primary school. Unfortunately, the rain kept us from beginning to paint the school as planned. Renovation work did begin later by the carpenters, though ;). 

This mama goat and her baby received celebrity attention, as she had given birth just an hour or so before we arrived!

Students from the local school welcoming the volunteers with cultural singing and dancing.

As the rain began, our ceremony transitioned into one of the classrooms… 

COSAD’s CEO Smart Baitani introducing the group, and saying a few words.
Work beginning at the school..
Written by Brittany Leitch

Welcoming GCN / FAIR School Student-Volunteers

After an overnight stay in Uganda and a bus ride to Tanzania, COSAD had the pleasure of welcoming 13 volunteers to our home in Bukoba. The volunteers are students and teachers from FAIR School in Minnesota, and they were sent to us through an organization called GCN (one of COSAD’s long-time partners).

Before arriving, the GCN/FAIR volunteers donated funds for a group of ten women to receive goats, including building the water retention system, buying material for goat pens, and purchasing the goats. The volunteers will help build the goat pens along with other projects while in Bukoba. We are beyond excited to have this group with us, and we cannot wait to experience the impact and cherish the memories they will create over the coming days.  Karibuni sana (welcome) GCN & FAIR School!

Volunteers arriving to the Hon. K.S. Kagasheki International Volunteers’ House.

Fruit and snacks after a long trip..
Volunteers arriving at Smart & Jessica Baitani’s house for an evening dinner party welcoming our guests!

Dr. Brant Barr (front), also a COSAD partner who is volunteering in Bukoba this month.

Meet & Greet begins after all have arrived… 

Fitting in a quick celebration; Happy Birthday Mpesha! (who is dancing in the striped shirt below)

We ended the night with Smart’s directing and Imuka’s singing.
Day 2: An afternoon visit to Kitwe Village

The GCN/FAIR group spent the afternoon talking, touring a few homes, and learning more about COSAD Programs & Mission.
True to their trademarked hospitality, the women in Kitwe sent us home with gifts. 

Written by Brittany Leitch

100 Women Registered in Kagondo | Rotary Partnership | OWOG

COSAD’s staff and community partners have spent the last few weeks profiling over 100 women in Kagondo Village.  We recently finished the registration process, and have started to distribute the goats (as my last blog said, three group have already received their goats!). 

With so many women to meet and register, it can become a scramble to finish paperwork and move the process along. Luckily, we have many people involved making the process seamless. The elders of the community offer a great deal of support and wisdom, attending all of the meetings and communicating with Smart. Also, one of our dearest partners, Ms. Justina Rwebogora, has taken on a lot of work to organize the groups before their registration day. Ms. Rwebogora is the principal at Kiteyagwa School and is a leader highly active & respected in the Kagondo community. Unfortunately, she has given up her valuable summer break to help launch this project, but we are incredibly grateful to have such leaders and examples supporting the program. 
CEO Smart Baitani talking with women before registration.
Working on registration forms…
Community elders & leaders are present at our OWOG registration meetings..
We travel, a lot! Before registration is completed, we personally visit at least two of the ten homes (chairwoman’s home & WRS home) and often see a few other homes, too.  
And where the cars won’t go… there is always walking this ^^.   

Another group gathering for registration. Ms. Justina Rwebogora greeting the women.
Written by Brittany Leitch

OWOG Partnering with the Rotary Club

(In an attempt to keep our readers clearly informed about the various projects going on this month, I’ll be labelling blogs as clearly as possible.. Thank you for being a part of what we are doing!)

Here at COSAD, we are continually humbled to witness the unwavering support for the OWOG program.  It is by far the most popular community program COSAD has ever launched, and it continues to grow exponentially through local and international support. 

This month (June 2015) Rotary International, Bukoba Rotary Club and COSAD began a partnership that will give 200 women goats through the OWOG program. The COSAD office team spent the last two weeks organizing and profiling new groups of women for the Rotary/COSAD OWOG expansion.

Below you can see the “before and after” photos… So far, three groups have been given goats, which leaves about 17 groups to go!  

Stay tuned for more pictures of OWOG – COSAD/ Rotary partnership!

Step #1- Profiling and Choosing Groups
*A community leader (woman) works with COSAD and the village women to arrange and help choose groups whom are likely to be good candidates and successful in the program.  

The women are given a small stipend to assist in building their goat pennies, but they are expected to provide local materials and labor (they have approximately two weeks to build the goat pen). 
Step #2- Water Retention Systems
*One system is installed at a central house for each group member to use.
Step #3- Giving Goats!
*Our veterinarian takes the lead in selecting and documenting goats given. Typically, the ceremony involves many smiles, dancing, and singing!

Written by Brittany Leitch

Share the Love | Partners’ Support | OWOG

A HUGE thank you to our most recent partners who have donated a total of 22 goats: Edina Covenant Church, Jennie-O Research & Development Dept, and GCN Volunteers.  

Pictured, are 11 of the 22 goats arriving to the farm this week.  The dairy goats for the OWOG program can be very difficult to find, and all are purchased from breeders outside of Bukoba.  Some of these goats will be staying at the goat farm for breeding & supporting the participating communities, and others will be awarded to the new participants of the OWOG program in Kagondo village in June. Stay turned to see how their new lives unfold in Bukoba!!

Edina Covenant Church donated the last 10 goats that were given in Kitwe Village, and all are doing very well!

Once they get their ID tags, two of the goats will be the talk of the farm, earning names of Sam & Nella thanks to their donors from Jennie-O’s R&D Department.
Next month, ten goats will go to ten women in Kagondo Village with on-the-ground help from a group of GCN volunteers from a Minnesota high school.  Though every OWOG program expansion is exciting, having our partners in the community as it happens will be a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Thank you, again, to our fantastic, fun and generous partners who are #sharingthelove with us. 

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