is a new blog dedicated to the Winrock volunteer experience. Read real stories from volunteers and staff in the field, share in their thoughts and experiences, and catch a glimpse of their inspiring accomplishments around the world
John Mark Winfield, deputy mission director, USAID Uganda, recently completed a successful visit to the USAID-funded Northern Uganda Development of Enhanced Local Governance, Infrastructure and Livelihoods (NUDEIL) program in Northern Uganda. Winrock, the support contractor for NUDEIL, is currently working in the Kitgum, Oyam, Gulu and Amuru districts – with two more soon to be added. Winfield observed construction progress and met with leaders in all four districts, discussing challenges and finding better ways to support them in their implementation of NUDEIL. Winrock provides design services, quality control and contractor management, and supports the local government districts who actually implement the public works projects .
On Nov. 17, the Winrock Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network presents the webinar, “Two Revolutionary Tools for Beginning Farmers.”The webinar will showcase two tools designed to help beginning farmers negotiate two big hurdles: creating a business model that will attract funding and developing a food safety plan. Register for the webinar today .
Winrock’s American Carbon Registry announced approval of an Improved Forest Management (IFM) Methodology for Family Forests and Non-Federal U.S. Forestlands. The methodology, developed by Columbia Carbon LLC, delivers enormous potential for family forest owners who manage 35 percent of all U.S. forestland. Read the full press release .
In South Sudan Eastern Equatoria’s State Ministry of Education rolled out a student mentoring program in June with financial and technical support from the USAID-funded Winrock Gender Equity through Education Program. Last month, officials submitted the first monitoring report, noting that one month after teachers had been trained as mentors, weekly mentoring sessions had begun in five of six schools. One school had even begun a peer mentoring program. Further, the program has been warmly embraced by students and teachers, and the ministry would like to expand the program.
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|Hydropower Plant Brings Reliable Energy to Village for First Time Since 1988
For the first time in more than 20 years, people living in a remote Caucasus village in the Republic of Georgia are enjoying reliable access to energy and all the benefits that it provides.
On Aug. 31, the Winrock Georgia team hosted a grand opening for the Shenako Hydropower Station in Shenako village, Tusheti. The ceremony took place at a local museum, powered by the station. The hydropower plant is the result of the Rural Energy Program (REP) and the New Applied Technology Efficiency and Lighting Initiative (NATELI) project, both funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International. The hydropower plant can generate enough power to support Shenako and neighboring villages. In addition to powering the homes of people living in the region, the electricity generated by the hydropower plant will encourage new economic opportunities – including development of a tourism industry in the remote and mountainous region. Shenako has not had reliable access to electricity since 1988, when a transmission line was damaged.
Attending the event with local community members were many highly ranked Georgian Government officials, including Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alexander Khetaguri, Minister of Internal Affairs Ivane Merabishvili, Minister of Education and Science Dmitri Shashkin, Member of the Parliament of Georgia Petre Tsiskarishvili, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass and USAID Energy and Environment office head Jill Kelly. After the ribbon cutting with the U.S. Ambassador, Khetaguri said the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has decided to start construction of additional small hydropower stations for other villages in the Tusheti region.
“It is a great example of how SHPs (small hydropower) can operate efficiently and bring huge results in such mountainous regions of Georgia,” he said .
Training Leads to Increased Prospects, Income for Vulnerable Women in Moldova
For women and girls living in the small breakaway region of Transnistria in eastern Moldova, few economic opportunities exist. Thousands of women in this isolated area risk becoming trafficking victims when pursuing employment opportunities abroad.
To combat human trafficking, the Winrock-implemented Transnistrian Women’s Support (TWS) Project has built the capacity of local organizations to provide psychological, legal and employment services for former trafficking victims and at-risk women. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, is aimed to help women such as Tatiana, who was having a hard time making ends meet to support herself and her baby girl.
After attending the project’s long-term entrepreneurship course, Tatiana developed a business plan for photography services and launched her enterprise at the end of 2010. In June, she hired an employee and plans to expand further. She now earns enough to care for her child and pay for her education.
“I am grateful to Winrock for the opportunity to earn money to support my child, for the legal and psychological help and for changing my perspective and attitude towards life,” she said. “Now I can feel confident in my abilities, and am more optimistic about my future.”
The TWS project has benefited more than 5,000 vulnerable women through leadership, life skills, employment, vocational and entrepreneurship training that increased their self-esteem, economic prospects, and awareness of trafficking. As a result, 24 women-owned businesses were opened or expanded, increasing women’s self-reliance and income. An additional 161 women who participated in employment or vocational training found employment. And, over 250 government officials improved their ability to identify and respond to human trafficking due to specialized training sessions .
Winrock Supports Sustainable Businesses in El Salvador with Tools for Entrepreneurs
A group of determined women in El Salvador are proving that hard work can lead to success and a better life.
In 2003, 13 women formed the Zarahemla Cooperative with a commitment to offer quality fruit and vegetable products in local markets. They soon struggled within a competitive and difficult business environment. For help, the group turned to Winrock International and its USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (FtF) program.
Since 2006, Winrock has engaged high-level American volunteers, including food processing expert Kamal Hyder, to help the cooperative develop new products, improve operations and design a new food facility – with improvements continuing for the members even after the volunteer assignments. Today, the co-op sells 12 products (including jams, pickles, frozen vegetables and fruit pulps) and has implemented time- and labor-saving practices introduced by volunteers. Starting with less than $250 in capital in 2003, the co-op achieved $22,500 in sales just two years after the first FtF assistance. Eager to help others in their poor and crime-ridden region, the co-op also provides scholarships and employment for young adults and has brought in new members.
Returning to El Salvador after his initial assignment, Hyder visited Zarahemla and was impressed with the changes he saw. “Without the cooperative members’ dedication, it would not have happened,” he said. “Winrock gave them technical knowledge, but they carried it forward.”
Ongoing support from FtF has enabled Zarahemla to continue growing; another volunteer assignment is scheduled to help the co-op develop new products for local markets. However, Zarahemla is just one example of the impact that can be achieved through FtF. Winrock International’s long-term commitment to creating jobs, increasing incomes and improving lives in El Salvador spans 16 years. Read more about Winrock’s volunteer programs .