Hello from Washington, DC!
I am so happy to be posting our our blog again with more news of The Ota Initiative. Last time I wrote we had just finished up our second program in Kayanga in July. Now, five months later, we are getting ready to launch our THIRD program!
Once again, we will be running a program for our 25 elementary school students during the school break in December that uses an integrated arts and science curriculum to encourage creativity, critical thinking and leadership skill. Unlike our last two programs, I will not be travelling back to Kayanga to oversee the running of the program. I am turning everything over to our local staff, and I know they will deliver another excellent program. Our goal from the beginning has been to make this program locally controlled and run, so this is a major step forward for Ota.
If you remember, last program we talked about the importance of clean air and water for a healthy life. We are expanding on this scientific theme in our next program by focusing on the human body and how to keep it healthy. We are going to start off with an overview of basic body parts and their functions. We are then going to touch on a basic overview of germs and good habits to stay healthy. Finally, we are going to talk about the different food groups, why each one is important, and how eating a balanced diet keeps your body strong.
While I am proud of Ota for many reasons, one of the reasons I think this program is so amazing is that we are able to achieve big results on a small budget. Last program we tested our students on the first and last days of our program in order to track how much they learned during the program. Because of these tests we know that our students’ understanding of last program’s subjects increased from a class average of 19 percent pre-program to 80 percent post-program — that’s an increase of 61 percent! That is pretty amazing when you consider we spent just 4 hours a day with our students for three weeks.
These quantitative results are also backed up by the information I obtained by interviewing 22 of our 24 families after our second program. Even more so than after our first program, parents were full of positive feedback. Every single parent said they wanted Ota to continue, and many brought up the idea of expanding the hours and dates of our program. Several parents also talked about their desire to become more involved with the program and mentioned possible activities like forming a PTA, helping to organize class field trips, and arranging a local fundraiser to support the program. Parents also expressed support for the voluntary fee we request they pay, and some even said they would be willing to pay more in order to increase services. This is just further evidence that parents see our program reaping positive changed and are invested in helping it continue.
We hope that after this third program we will have a solid record of how Ota has benefited Kayanga’s community. We will also be able to show that locals have taken over control of the program, making it more sustainable than if it were continually run by foreigners. We then plan to use this information to begin applying for larger grants to help sustain the program long-term and to enable us to begin teaching more students.
For this program, however, we are once again relying on our supporters to finance this program that has made a huge difference in the lives of our students. With a budget of just $1500 for this upcoming program, the cost per student comes down to $60. For just $60, one of Kayanga’s children will have access to hands-on arts, science, and leadership education that they would otherwise not be exposed to. I encourage you to visit this webpage of our sponsor, Amizade Global Service-Learning, and consider donating $60 to Ota in order to sponsor the cost of one child to attend our upcoming program. Really though, with a budget of just $1500, any amount you can contribute will make a difference.
As always, thank you for your support of The Ota Initiative, and I am excited to embark on yet another program with you all!
The Ota Initiative