The Creation of The Amasiko Partnership

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In 2016, I wanted to tick off another of my “bucket list” items. That was to go to Africa, kiss a giraffe, go on a safari, see the Big 5, and a more recently item, to visit the village of Bwindi, Uganda. I had been on a charity committee of another inspiring project, created by another Melbourne Group, called the Bwindi Sewing Group for two years. This charity was set up 7 years ago to develop and support a sewing group to make an industry for the local women that village.

I had a wonderful time in this month in Africa, actually kissing a giraffe (a number of times, I have photos) in Kenya and it was in Uganda, going to Bwindi, that I met the man, Wilson Nzigye.

Wilson Nzigye

Wilson was our driver that we had booked for our trip to the village. I travelled with my friends, Lynne who had already been to Bwindi to teach sewing, and her husband Rob, who was wondering how he was going to fill in his time. I knew I was going to do something, but not quite sure what. I had a few kilos of Australian lollies (candy) that if nothing else, I could go and meet people and hand out a lolly or two.

The entire time we drove to Bwindi (I think it was at least 11 hours but I zoned out a bit), Wilson asked question after question about our lives and why we were helping people in Bwindi. Rob particularly has a great knowledge of agriculture and rural development in Australia, and Wilson was like a sponge, locking away knowledge away to be able to ask follow up questions during the week with us, especially Rob.

Whilst Lynne and I were involved in the sewing project, Rob had decided to build a bio-diverse large chicken coop. (Chickens are called Nkoko’s in Ugandan, and in Australia we called them “chooks. Wilson thought it was hysterical to say the word “chook”!!!)

OK, long-story short, the “chook’ house” was designed and built by Rob and Wilson, to house 45 chickens. Wilson shared how different and more undeveloped his home village was, and was so inspired by our work, especially Rob’s, that he became determined to be the person who was going to provide opportunities for his own village.

Wilson’s home village is in very remote Uganda. The village is called Kasenda, and there is no road access into the village and many people have never ventured outside their local area. Kasenda has no tourist attractions, has no supply of drinkable, disease free water, and like most villages and people in Uganda, were very poor and did not value formal education.

In the 1990’s, the population of Kasenda virtually doubled. There were many families who lived in the jungle in the Kibale who were forcibly “repatriated” by the Ugandan Government as the Kibale National Chimpanze Reserve was established. These families were used to living in the forest, had not really lived in a “village”, and moved to Kasenda as the closest village with room to move into.

Wilson is happy to report that now the village functions more of a collective, as that with the creation of The Amasiko Partnership, there is a real possibility that “hope” is in the air, and they are actually seeing action, not just words.

Our Vision for Kasenda is that in 5 years, it will be will be a model village that will demonstrate that with willing hearts and partnerships, miracles can actually happen.

Pam Wood