Wednesday April 23 2014

Group raises money through social media to build children’s dormitory

Some of the group members during the hand

Some of the group members during the hand over of the dormitory (in background) over Easter weekend. Photo by Brenda Banura. 

By Brenda Banura

Kampala- What comes to your mind when you think of popular social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter? Silly pictures, updates on friends’ lives and a platform to rant, chat with friends are some of the things that are synonymous with social media.
While different people use social media sites for various interactions a group of youth under 40 Days Over 40 Smiles Foundation (40-40), a charity group, have built a dormitory for vulnerable children out of funds mobilised through sites.

Started as a one-time outreach project, the foundation is now two years old and completing the dormitory is so far its biggest achievement.

The dormitory, accommodating 210 children, is a donation to Happy Times Child Care Initiatives, a school and home for vulnerable children in Luweero District.
Speaking about the initiative [dormitory] Ms Esther Kalenzi, the group founder, said: “We did needs assessment and found that their [Happy Times Child Care Initiatives] greatest need was more space. They had a shell and we thought we could help complete it. On looking at the budget, it was extremely expensive and pledged to fundraise for half of it.”

“Before long, we realised that it didn’t make sense to help with half the dormitory and with immense support, we decided to just go the extra mile and guess what we managed to do? We completed a dormitory,” she added:
Ms Joyce Namigadde, the director, Happy Times Child Care Initiatives, said during the commissioning of the dormitory at Easter Weekend that the project had created more space.

“Previously, children were packed. Babies slept in the same room with the older girls and kept on getting infections. Sanitation was a big challenge but now we shall be able to separate them. ”

Margaret Nakazzi, a Primary Four pupil and one of the beneficiaries from the projects, said: “I used to share a bed with someone so I couldn’t sleep well at night. But since the dormitory was completed, I have been sleeping alone and it is more comfortable. I am very happy.”

To raise the funds, 40-40 carried out online campaigns and held fun events popularised on social media.
Campaigns like Buy A Brick, where a brick was costed at Shs500, was the most popular campaign.

A brick stood for any item needed to complete the dormitory and a total of 16,000 bricks were bought which equates to Shs8,000,000.
From other campaigns including Be Santa, Croak And Rhyme and Hoops For Grace, Shs27 million was mobilised and was used to complete the dormitory.

The foundation continues to give ordinary youth the opportunity to do extraordinary things always fronting their slogan, “Be the change you want to see in the world” to call people to action.