Today, I had the privilege of traveling with President Clinton to three separate events in Uganda.While each event focused on a different issue – education, the provision of hearing aids, and averting childhood deaths due to diarrhea – there was a common theme throughout the day: Our challenges will not be solved through conflict, but through innovative partnerships.
We traveled for about 45 minutes this morning to a rural area outside of Kampala in the Mpigi district, where, as a result of a commitment made at the Clinton Global Initiative, Building Tomorrow has partnered with the Ugandan government and the local community to build a seven-room primary school serving six local villages. The new school, the Building Tomorrow Academy of Gita, is truly a product of a creative partnership – the type President Clinton has often helped to foster.
One landowner donated the property for the school; members of the local community provided much of the manual labor; Building Tomorrow raised the $55,000 necessary to build the school and is providing assistance to ensure the school provides a quality education; and the Ugandan government trains and pays the teachers. The shared responsibility even includes school lunches: Members of the community provide food for the students to eat and any members of the community who can’t afford to supply food help to prepare and cook it.
President Clinton and Chelsea toured the school, enjoying a dance and song program, as well as watching a number of classes (e.g., English with Miss Aminah). I participated in the math class, which would have made my father proud (he was a math professor!).
Building Tomorrow has already worked with local communities and the Ugandan government to build 12 schools. They plan to open a total of 60 schools, with 15,000 primary-level students, by 2016.
One interesting factoid: Building Tomorrow built bathrooms at the school because it makes it more likely that the teachers will show up to work.
Provision of Hearing Aids
One challenge facing significant parts of the developing world is that children who have lost their hearing are unable to get hearing aids. The Starkey Foundation has made it its goal to increase access to hearing aids. On a beautiful day in downtown Kampala, NFL superstar Larry Fitzgerald, local community organizers, the Starkey Foundation, and President Clinton distributed 250 hearing aids today alone.
Averting Childhood Deaths Due to Diarrhea
Today, an estimated 14,000 Ugandan children die due to diarrhea. But, as President Clinton said today, “saving their lives is inexpensive and relatively easy” with low-cost and simple treatments of oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc.
We visited the National Medical Stores (NMS) warehouse in the afternoon for President Clinton and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to announce a new partnership to promote the use of ORS and zinc, thereby preventing childhood deaths from diarrhea.
The NMS delivers ORS, zinc, and other drugs to 2,800 health clinics and hospitals around Uganda six times per year. But too many Ugandans don’t know that drugs are available to prevent childhood deaths due to diarrhea. So the partnership announced today will promote the availability of these drugs and direct Ugandans where they can get them.
If Uganda (and the world) are to reach the child mortality targets in the millennium challenge goals- believe you mean "Millennium Development Goals", efforts like those announced today are essential.
Bill Clinton Squared
When President Clinton visited Uganda in 1998, a mother named her newborn Bill Clinton. (Later on that same trip, a family in Senegal named their newborn goat Bill Clinton too!)
President Clinton arranged for the Ugandan Bill Clinton to meet him at the airport.
As the partnerships announced today show, the world could use more Bill Clintons.