Comment by Christina Jordan
>>Would the Gulu community soap project fall under this plan?<<
There are a couple of issues here that I would like us to please consider in very practical terms.
- ned Uganda does not yet officially exist anywhere but in spoken words and here online. At this point in time, the community members are still members of Life in Africa, which is registered to operate and trade in Gulu District. If we do not start the soap project until ned Uganda is registered to operate, that means waiting until December.
- The LiA community members in Gulu have already been involved in discussions about the soap project. Expectations have been established through some form of group consensus that will now be changed (by an externally imposed model). Not only will it change, but it changes in a way that adds yet another delay, and involves and rewards only a few. In my experience with the community in Gulu, they ALWAYS push for an equal spread of participation and benefits - mainly because they detest the politics that arise when some are chosen to participate and others aren't. Letting them know now that the long awaited soap project is only going to involve 3-5 members after all will wreak predictable havoc on the community spirit there. For the sake of community building I think it's a bad decision to change the community's involvement in the soap plan now, and another bad decision to delay it any further.
- As ned Uganda continues to take shape as a plan and eventually a real life operational organization, Life in Africa is also morphing into a new format/brand for providing support to communities like the communities we've built, that are now becoming part of this global ned brand. In the context of developing the kind of support that LiA would like to provide to communities like these, one of our plans is to offer fundraising for projects like the soap project that we've been actively guiding the development of this year. Significant effort has gone into this already that I would sincerely appreciate the opportunity for Life in Africa to see through as long as the community is still registered as Life in Africa. The soap project idea was conceived and grew to this point with the community as Life in Africa, and we still have the time to see it through to the next step without endangering the successful transition to nedUganda in any way, in my view. In fact, if we can get going on this sooner rather than later, I think we'll have a lot more members at both centers sticking around to see this transition period through.
- We are ready to go with a fundraising plan today or tomorrow, and if all goes well this Life in Africa project could actually be off the ground and benefiting our members who really need the income by the time the transition to nedUganda is complete in December. At that time, all Life in Africa community assets and programs will be transferred to the nedUganda entity anyway. By then we'll have been operating the soap project for a couple of months and started candlemaking. nedUganda will inherit all that and can reorganize it however you all want according to the new systems you're just starting to actively plan for nedUganda right now. By the time NedUganda inherits these products, there will also be some real life market experience to grow on.
Sorry for all the words, but basically Life in Africa is not dead yet... Nor are we ned yet :) I just don't see that it would be good for the communities to wait on diversifying their group production activities until neduganda begins, when we've now come far enough that we can get it going as the LiA community right away.