_DSC6476I wanted to update all of you who have expressed interest in my recent trip to Uganda and my efforts to continue to help the people I met. More than a month has gone by since my return and I remain committed to answering the question- How can I help?

It seems like an easy thing to do to help people but it turns out it is incredibly difficult and frustrating especially when those you are trying to help are culturally and geographically so far away. I first considered sending money back to northern Uganda but to whom? The people I want to help don’t have bank accounts and even if they did how would I know where or to whom the money was going? This would be true if I was trying to send money to someone in Nashville just as much as it is for Gulu.  I don’t mind trusting people and I have all the faith in the world but sending cash wrapped in hope and a prayer didn’t seem like the best strategy.

I thought about sending money directly to a school to set up a scholarship fund but that has its own set of problems. This is something I am going to do when I return and I can get the specific information I need to make sure this approach will be effective but from half a world away trying to create such a fund with people you have never met and don’t know wasn’t going to work.

What I have settled on is to spend my time looking for NGOs (non-profit groups) who are already established in northern Uganda and who are actively doing good work there. The NGO has to be well run, financially transparent, efficient and heavily include local people in leadership roles. There are many well known NGOs working in Uganda but many of them do not meet these standards. I have found one that has so far.

BRAC is a non-profit organization that started in Bangladesh  in 1972 but is now is a dozen countries worldwide. From their website: There are currently programs operating in microfinance, small enterprises, agriculture, poultry and livestock, health, education, youth empowerment, adolescent livelihood, and the Karamoja initiative. The programs are halfway towards reaching its goal of serving 4.2 million people, which is 12 per cent of Uganda’s population, by 2016.

To see for yourself please go to: uganda.brac.net

Charity Navigator rates BRAC as a 4 Star NGO and based on my communication with them I feel confident that their efforts supported in small part by my donations are making a big difference in northern Uganda.

If you wish to donate to BRAC and help the people of northern Uganda here is the link:  https://bracusa.org/donate/

PS. Sometime in the n0t too distant future I am going to go back to northern Uganda and offer to take along some photographers. Consider this fair warning!