Return to Kasese in Western Uganda
on Ian Smith (Uganda), 15/Oct/2011 18:26, 34 days ago
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Last year, just after Easter, Ian travelled with Taremwa Sam who was at that time Finance Officer with the Network, to Western Uganda to meet with small community based organisations working with most at-risk populations (MARPs). This was to gather data for the public dialogue project. It was good to go back, especially as this time the Network has the resources to offer practical support through the setting up of a regional support group - with the somewhat awkward name of "technical working group" (TWG). It was great to meet several amazing people once again at a 24 hour workshop held to launch the TWG. The diagram below shows the engagement structure of the MARPs Network (click on the diagram to see an enlarged version).Community-based organisations (the focus for the Network's membership) are grouped into one of four TWGs - one for each of the four regions of Uganda. Each TWG will be facilitated by a regional service organisation (RSO) - an organisation commissioned by the MARPs Network to carry out the task on its behalf. Rather than become a large bureaucracy, the MARPs Network decided to appoint other existing organisations, who already enjoy trust in the region, to work on our behalf. The MARPs Network will be appointing the RSOs next month. The Network enjoys support and advice nationally from a valued group of organisations / partners which include United Nations organisations, Government Departments and national and international non-governmental organisations. These partners will form the National Technical Working Group which will offer advice and guidance to the MARPs Secretariat and also to the four regional RSOs and TWGs.This year the MARPs Network is working with four priority Districts in each region (Next year another four Districts will be added in each Region). The map below shows the four Districts that are initially forming the membership of the Western Region TWG.The MARPs Network worked with District Officials to identify the participants invited to launch the TWG. Each District sent three officials along with representatives from four community-based organisations (CBOs) working with most at-risk populations. Finally the civil society forum in each District was invited to send a representative. 29 participants, out of a possible 32, attended the launch workshop which was held in Kasese, perhaps the lowest Town in Uganda - close to the floor of the Western (Albertine) Rift Valley.Here's Geoffrey Mujisha, the Executive Director of the MARPs Network welcoming participants and explaining the objectives for the workshop.And getting good quality listen from participants!. The workshop was held in a thatched 'barn' with gauze spaces at the top and bottom of the side walls - above and below wooden panels. The result was a wonderfully cool and gently lit meeting space - very unusual in its design.Despite the comfort of the 'thatched barn' participants still opted to take the chance to discuss issues in the gardens next to the 'barn'. Here are participants from Bushenyi discussing who they believe are the most at-risk populations in their area, in terms of exposure to catching HIV / AIDS.Sagal, the Finance Officer from the MARPs Network, on the left, helping to facilitate a discussion with participants from Kabarole District.Having heard how the TWG is going to function and how the RSO will support the TWG participants were invited to register as members. This required completing a questionnaire detailing information about their organisation and which most at-risk populations they target in their work.Having completed the registration questionnaire, participants signed the membership contract which was counter-signed by Geoffrey Mujisha. By the way everyone signed up!And at the end of the proceedings . . the group photograph! A thoroughly enjoyable three days in Kasese. Next week it's the Northern Region's turn . . in Lira.