May/June 2012         




In This Update:



 Summer Interns Take Over WMI

This summer WMI has 22 interns working on various projects in Buyobo and Bethesda!  They are bringing terrific skills and commitment to the loan program and we appreciate their hard work and dedication.


In Buyobo...

Front Row: Tara Kelishadi, Della Turque

Second Row: Sam Pearl-Schwartz, Nikki Mills, Zach Watson, Nalini Pillai, Julia Medine, Johnny Rauch

Top Row: Bob Mathis, Noah Martin, Ben James, Maggie Sullivan 

The Walt Whitman High School student interns from Bethesda, MD (under the intrepid leadership of Social Studies Department senior teacher, Bob Mathis, and his wife Tali) arrived at Entebbe Airport at 2 AM on Sunday, June 17, only to find all their bags had been lost!  After a brief rest stop at a guest house, they started out on the 7 hour drive to rural Buyobo, arriving at dusk in the village, where they were welcomed by Olive Wolimbwa and the Buyobo Women's Association.  The interns were good sports about their lack of  luggage, donning WMI t-shirts that were in supply at the WMI building. Happily, the bags arrived after a couple days, so the students had fresh clothes for their first day at Buyobo Primary School, where they've been hard at work teaching - imagine classes of forty to sixty students in a room with three to four students to a desk.


The Ugandan students have been extremely responsive - among the topics our interns have been covering are geometry, fractions, English, grammar, and body parts.  The interns for their part have loved discovering the tradition where Ugandan students come up to them and curtsy before answering questions!  In addition to teaching, the high school interns are working with students to start a school garden, refurbish and paint old classrooms, and create a space on school grounds for teachers to grow food.  They have also been hard at work in the internet caf´┐Ż tutoring borrowers on computer basics.


The school continues to benefit from the tea & buns program WMI interns launched in 2010, which provides a cup of hot tea and a bun to teachers each morning before school, and the library books generously donated by WMI supporters, as well as the solar installation.  This excerpt from a recent report by Ambrose Masolo, the acting head teacher at Buyobo Primary, notes the students' improvement and the changing academic culture at the school since WMI's high school interns have gotten involved:


"Because of great support you give to Buyobo P. S. and with the help of solar installed in the new building has enabled the pupils and teachers to continue teaching/learning up to late in evening because they assured of light. Also, teachers around the school benefit by making their preps and lessons for the next day. The library books have also helped pupils and teachers to improve their vocabulary, more pupils borrow books and after a week they refund them and they are able to read and speak better English.  So teachers of Buyobo send their great greetings to you and appreciate all the great work and support you are giving them. They send their kind regards."


In Bethesda...  Back in Bethesda, seven crackjack college interns joined WMI this summer to compile and analyze data from all of our loan hubs using the SAS JMP software, graciously supplied gratis by SAS in Cary, NC.  They will use the data to create updated Fact Books - available for view on our website in August - on the demographic conditions in our new loan hubs in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and the impact of WMI's loan programs.  In light of new opportunities for WMI to partner with other major development groups, our Bethesda interns are performing grant research and writing in addition to analyzing reports from our loan coordinators on the ground in East Africa, updating our website and increasing WMI's social media presence, and organizing the WMI photo library.  

Top row: Chelsea Lo, Nikki Heimberg, Jess Littman, Ashley Grayson
Bottom row: Rebecca Miller, Nick Shasy, Julia Graham

Among our Bethesda interns this year are two college students, Jess Littman and Nikki Heimberg, who had previously travelled to Buyobo as high school students as part of the Walt Whitman High School contingent in 2010.  


Additionally, from March - July, we are fortunate to have Hart Wood (University of Mary Washington 2010) working with us in Bethesda as a part time Assistant Program Director.  Hart had interned with WMI in Bethesda in 2008, as a sophomore in college, and also travelled to Buyobo for WMI that summer to help issue the third round of loans.  He will be heading off to law school at UVa. in the fall.

 WMI Adds New Loan Hub in Kenya


 In July, WMI will launch a new loan hub in the village of  Ntumburi, Kenya (outside of Meru), in partnership with the

Wendo Group member tends crops in Ntumburi

Wendo Self-Help Group, an organization of women in this rural area of central Kenya.  Wendo has asked for WMI's help in bringing our successful and sustainable loan program to their community, which has been impoverished by drought and disease.  The women currently survive though peasant farming and selling local poultry.  The women plan to use the loans for traditional businesses including selling produce and handmade crafts, raising livestock, and running small shops.  

 Elissa Eva, a Washington, D.C. native and active leader in the volunteering community, will act as WMI's liaison to Ntumburi.  Elissa met members of the Wendo Group while visiting Kenya last fall.  After working with them to expand their crops and livestock and improve their access to clean water, she reached out to WMI to set up a formal loan program there.  Elissa's previous experience includes founding and running a non-profit to help the children of families in need, organizing volunteers with the Women Faith and Development Alliance at the National Cathedral, and volunteering with Stand Up for Kids in California, where she now resides.

WMI Welcomes New Advisory Board Member

Jackie Vouthouris has joined the WMI Advisory Board. She was a tireless and dedicated WMI intern in Buyobo in the summer of 2011, updating all of the budgeting and financial data for the Buyobo Women's Association and developing financial tracking systems. All of the WMI loan hubs are being trained to use the model she developed. 


Jackie is currently an associate analyst at KSA MidOcean, an equity hedge fund, which she joined in August 2011 after returning from the two months of volunteer work as WMI's Finance and Management intern in Uganda.  Before that, she was a Finance Intern for MidOcean Partners, where she supported the Director of Fund Accounting and the Director of Credit Operations on strategic operational initiatives.  
Jackie Vouthouris


Her current position involves building quantitative financial models and performing fundamental analysis across multiple market sectors to directly assist the investment team.  Jackie graduated from the University of Maryland in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.  We are delighted to have her join the WMI Advisory Board and appreciate having her expertise available to the loan program.
Check Out the New Blog Posts and Pictures

Follow WMI's activities in Buyobo online at "Notes from Uganda," the WMI blog! All of our Buyobo interns and our new resource fellow there, Hannah Kahl, will be updating the blog on a regular basis with pictures and information on activities in Uganda, progress at Buyobo Primary School, and insights on village life. Subscribe to our blog to get automatic email alerts when there are new posts.  http://wmionline.wordpress.com 

The Gazette Profiles WMI

Hometown newspaper, The Gazette, profiled the WMI loan program on the front page of the Wednesday, June 27, 2012 edition.  The article talks about the impact of the loan program in helping rural African women break the cycle of poverty.  Interviews with several former WMI interns are included.  

Click here to read the article. 

Landslides in Eastern Uganda Hit WMI Loan Hub

Deadly landslides occurred in Eastern Uganda this week. The epicenter was Bududa District where WMI operates a loan hub in partnership with Arlington Academy of Hope.   Fortunately, AAH's school, which serves as the WMI meeting place, was not hit.  But many WMI borrowers and their families were impacted.  We just received the update below from the WMI Coordinator in Bududa.  



Tuesday, 26th June, 2012


Dear Everybody,


It's really sad to inform you that we have been hit by a terrible landslide that occurred yesterday capturing two villages of Bunamulambwa and Bunakasala, of Bumwalukani Parish Bulucheke sub-county Bududa district.  This incident has gone with one of our members known as Jesca Bwaya from Red group who died together with the husband leaving behind six children.


Another member called Beatrice Nanyiri of yellow group who also lost her child and property but she is alive followed by Grace Seara of Brown group, pregnant and now is hospitalized in Bududa Hosp. Followed by other nineteen members from other groups who lost their property and their alive, they have remained homeless now staying with their family and friends waiting for relocation by the Government.


Naome Muganwa

WMI Coordinator, Maya Agiri Women's Development Economic Group


The women of Buyobo, where WMI's headquarters is located, will organize some relief and support for their colleagues in Bududa and will travel there next week. WMI is planning to make a special contribution to the families of its borrowers that have been affected. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please make a donation on the WMI web site and then email us that it is for Bududa relief efforts. Our hearts go out to all of the villagers who have been devastated by this tragic event

Email WMI at: wmicontact@gmail.comn 



Thank you!




The WMI Board of Directors



Robyn Nietert          rgnietert@aol.com  

Betsy Gordon          betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith        deborahwsmith@yahoo.com
June Kyakobye        junekyaks@yahoo.com

Trix Vandervossen   bvandervossen@imf.org

Jane Erickson         ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli            terryciccotelli@gmail.com