Connecting local responses around the world
[A story about mobilising resources]
Soon after I was seconded to UNAIDS in 2003 I went to Uganda to visit some communities. I learned more by listening to them than I was able to share with them. One of the communities was a fishing village which was reached after travelling for more than an hour off of the made-up road. The village was on the shores of a large lake and the villagers were waiting for us. There were a number of boats moored up, fish being dried and more being cooked for our lunch. After the usual greetings, songs and plays they shared some examples of what they were doing to respond to their issues.
The population was transient. Men came to live in the village for many months to make enough money to support their family who may be living many miles away. When the fishing was good the men made lots of money and that attracted sex workers. As the fish migrated around the lake (there were three such villages on the shores of the lake) the sex workers did also. Inevitably HIV spread around the lake as well.
However despite the community being transient there were many children, some orphaned through AIDS. The community had a sense of responsibility towards these children and built a school so they could get an education.
When fishing was good the fishermen were able to contribute to the cost of the teacher, paper and chalk etc. but when fishing was poor they didn’t have funds.
The fishermen got together and bought an extra boat and set of nets. Each day one fisherman would take the boat out. Whatever was caught by that boat went directly to funding the school. Hence they had a sustainable source of funding to ensure there was always money to pay the teacher and run the school.
When I tell this story to other communities even ones not by the side of the lake they take inspiration to come up with solutions for sustainably funding their responses.