We now have active branches of SEVO in 14 districts in Uganda. SEVO is registered both as a Company with limited guarantee, and as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), giving it legal government recognition.
During 2009 I taught 2 separate leadership conferences, with representatives from at least 9 of these districts. One elderly midwife from the far western part of Uganda, Kyenjojo (chen-jo-jo), came alone. She did not speak either English or Luganda, but she wanted to be there. She sat through every meeting and class, reading her Bible, and at the end of the day, someone who spoke her language would give her summaries of what had been discussed or taught.
At these conferences, I taught Bible-based classes on finances, leadership and self-sufficiency. My biggest joy was seeing how the SEVO leaders organized for these seminars. They budgeted ahead of time, estimated the costs, and then charged a fee for each person attending. Thus all costs were covered, rental of the halls we used for teachings, sleeping, food and costs of my own food and lodging and local transportation. However, as happens when fees are charged, the 2nd conference saw some of the leaders dropping out because of inability to raise the money for the fee. So I added to the teachings ideas for ways of generating income to help those who were very talented leaders but unable to raise funds for themselves. This 2nd conference also closed with an excess of funds to be used towards the next conference expense.
This may register a “so what?” reaction from the reader, but considering that Uganda is a country very dependent on outside funds and greatly lacking in economic training on every level, this was a remarkable achievement.
Several years ago, 2 acres were donated to SEVO by a Muslim man in a village not far from mine, called Kikunyu (chee-koon-yoo). This land is now being developed into a national training center with volunteer labor from SEVO members. It will have an office, training center, and dorms for both men and women. Gardens are being cultivated to help with food for students during training sessions.
My goal when I came to Uganda and began working in the various villages was to train up local people, who then could go out and train their own people. They have the advantage of both language and culture which I will never have to the same degree, so they can be more effective than I can. SEVO has become an excellent example of just that. Hannington Sseruga as the founder and director, and other SEVO leaders from across the nation, are constantly doing SEVO trainings, spreading life-saving knowledge in a country which ranks second on the African continent for traffic fatalities. We hope to see that statistic change over time as more and more people learn to administer first aid and rescue all kinds of accident victims.
April 18, 2008
SEVO has undergone many changes in past months. We had SEVO training centers in 12 districts in Uganda, but we have actually eliminated about half of those centers now. We are focusing on the ones who have maintained the true vision of SEVO, that of providing emergency rescue services to their communities, as well as some community health services.
Our newest and most vibrant SEVO centers are located in southeastern Uganda, in Budaka and Pallisa districts. These are very poor agricultural areas, mostly growing rice, and yet they’ve demonstrated an unusual vision for SEVO. Not only have our training centers there expanded into the most remote of villages, but teams of SEVO trainers are moving up and down the main highways, training rescuers to manage the high rate of traffic accidents, and to increase safety awareness. A survey is also in process to begin a bio-sand water filter making project, to provide pure water in areas where access to clean water is either impossible or severely limited. This project has appealed more to the elderly people in these areas, as it takes more the energy of youth to do accident rescues and transport the injured. So a committee of 20 “senior citizens” is working on the survey to gather statistics on water, hygiene and sanitation, and then they will be trained in making and installing the water filters. We are also planning this project for 2 village areas nearer to Luweero.
A small group of SEVO trainers from Soroti, further north in eastern Uganda, is joining together with the Pallisa/Budaka groups, to outreach into the Mbale district on the border with Kenya. SEVO founder Hannington Sseruga is now doing “training of trainers” seminars so that our various SEVO centers will continue to expand independently, while maintaining their standards.
In May 2007 SEVO established a new board of directors which had weekly meetings for a number of months, problem solving, meeting with a lawyer to rewrite its constitution for registration as a Non-Governmental Organization, and planning for the future. The board also worked to mend the breach caused by division in the ranks when certain new members got their eyes off the original goals of SEVO to provide rescue services to the communities and onto ownership of equipment and supplies. These dissidents actually wrecked the SEVO ambulance, which served to put an end to most of their selfish ambitions.
Reconciliation with the dissident group has failed to this date, and the ambulance has not yet been repaired, due to lack of funds. However, it has been removed from the police department and towed to a mechanic's in Kampala, where it will be kept safely until repaired. But Director Hannington Sseruga has continued on with his vision for training up more and more SEVO members across Uganda. Since December 2007, he has opened new SEVO training centers in 2 new districts, Pallisa and Budaka, in eastern Uganda, and those groups in turn are extending the training further into their districts.
In addition, SEVO has partnered with a research group out of the University of California at Berkeley, CA, which has been looking at access to health care in rural Uganda. SEVO trained about 20 motorcycles for hire (boda-bodas) in the community of Kiwoko, about 14 km west of Luweero. These drivers are now trained in simple first aid and transporting accident victims to the nearby Kiwoko Hospital, and are called "Boda Bodas For Life." In February, SEVO will again work with the Berkeley group to train another group of Boda Bodas for Life in western Uganda, at Kyenjojo.
SEVO also will be training parents of handicapped childen in basic first aid through an NGO called Sense, International, in 2008. Hannington is a member of Sense's board, himself being parent of a deaf-blind daughter.
The past year's difficulties have brought about new maturity and knowledge in SEVO and its leadership. A new direction has been developed in training all levels of rescuers to use local materials, instead of being dependent upon equipment and supplies brought in from outside of Uganda. It's main Luweero office headquarters are soon to move into the building which houses New Life Drug Store located in Budanza, 7 miles south of Luweero. From there SEVO will expand local training into remote villages in the Luweero area. SEVO members continue to serve on a volunteer basis throughout Uganda, providing first aid and rescue services on highways and in communities.