Musana US Board President, David Morrison, with students from Bukona Village
BY ROSEMARY FETTER
“It began a summer project for two CU students who volunteered at an orphanage in Iganga, Uganda,” said David Morrison, board president for the thriving Musana community. “They found 162 children ages 4-14 living under unimaginable conditions. They were sleeping on dirt floors without beds or blankets in three small rat-infested rooms. Whenever it rained, the floors turned to mud.” Under such unsanitary conditions, many had rashes and bacterial infections, and they were suffering from malnutrition. Uneducated and unloved, their future looked dismal.
The students, Andrea and Leah Pauline, were 19 and 20, graduates of Littleton High School. Determined to make a difference, they rolled up their sleeves and dug in their heels. Their dedication, along with donations from friends, family and the community, led to the creation of the Musana Children’s Home in 2008. They moved 80 of the youngsters to the new facility, providing them with three meals a day, medical care, and a good education in a loving environment. Musana means restore or awaken in the local language..
That was just the beginning. Today Musana includes award-winning schools on three campuses, including a nursery and preschool, primary school, and a vocational high school, the latter encompassing both academics and training programs. “In Uganda, boarding school is the norm,” Morrison added. “About seventy percent of the 2000 students live on campus, many of them orphans.”
Children from Musana’s Project Restore
Musana also includes a Health Center, which provides dental services, pediatrics, family planning and immunization and a recently added a 70- bed hospital. As part of the community health outreach, health care practitioners and social workers travel to outlying areas to provide services such as immunizations, HIV testing, dental check-ups and prenatal care. Project Restore seeks out vulnerable children and adults needing special medical attention and recommends surgery and rehabilitation when necessary.
According to Morrison, life is primitive in Iganga, which has a livestock- based economy with some subsistence farming. With no electricity, everything shuts down after sunset. Uganda has a long history of dependency and reliance on foreign aid, exacerbated by political conflict, environmental problems and the AIDS epidemic. Musana aims to make the people more self- sufficient, so they will become their own catalyst for change and progress.
One of Musana’s success stories is a 17 year-old boy named Solomon, one of the original 80 orphans. “He came to us when he was about six, a scared kid who didn’t even know his age. He was born in a mud hut and both his parents had passed away.” Over the years, the boy has thrived at Musana. “He is great at math and science, a school leader in student government and excels at volleyball,” said Morrison. “He wants to become a civil engineer. He’s on his way to a different life.”
“Musana has a different model than most relief charities,” he adds. “We don’t come into the community with first world solutions. We encourage people to gain independence and skills, which give them the ability to transform their lives.”
Project Restore – Musana’s social work department provides life giving assistance for the poorest of the poor.
Musana offers a fourteen-week course in skill development and business. With sustainability as a goal, donors provide capital for various enterprises. For example, Musana has trained more than 300 women in both marketing and practical skills, including tailoring, knitting, tie-dye and embroidery, which is sold in craft markets and outsourced. “Most charities have to raise money every year, but we are more than 90 percent sustainable,” said Morrison. “Profits go back to the community through outreach programs. We also charge school fees to parents who can pay.”
He emphasizes that Musana is a community of social enterprises, aimed to empower the next generation. “I love this organization,” he added. “I was out there twice last year, once with a group. Over the years, my wife, Kay, and I have made personal connections and met some wonderful people. In September we had a 10th anniversary celebration here at Mile High Station.”
The organization is hoping to expand to add a second location with a clinic and schools. For further information or to make a donation, check the website at Musana.org.
David and Kay Morrison (middle) with Musana board members and donors
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