Special Holiday TrEaT! an Appreciative Inquiry in a small village in S.W. Uganda

We have come back to Lake Bunyonyi to spend Christmas - I am in town today to connect and say happy holidays before heading back out to the lake with more supplies this afternoon.

It was a special treat for me to be able to participate in facilitating an "appreciative inquiry" process last weekend with about 40 households on the peninsula where my friend Wilfried is developing the Amasiko eco-tourism and youth training community development project.

Women, men and youth were divided into groups and facilitated through the same exercises for discovering their own capacities, developing their own visions, and making mini action plans for change that builds upon what they already have. Then we combined everything to develop a vision for the village 5-10 years from now. It was my appointed role to watch all of the groups and identify what was working and not working in the communication process, and advise the facilitators on how to get back on track. The facilitators were wonderful, and the villagers really achieved a lot.

Some of the outcomes, which I've pasted below, have added some special meaning to my holiday season this year, as we head back out to the lake today to spend Christmas. May they also add meaning to yours.

From the village of Hamukaaka, Lake Bunyonyi, SW Uganda



Knowledge and Skills

Proper planning and accountability

Hard working

Effective utilization of resources

Honesty and trustworthiness

Sustainable agriculture methods (for beans and irish)

Collaborating with other organizations/programs

Good leadership



Borrowing money from groups (STRENGTH)



Equipment (knapsack sprayers)

Group contributions

Child/family help (STRENGTH)



Buying land

Paying debts

Feeding children

More profit/increased income


Building a house

Waking up early (STRENGTH)

Carrying things on head (STRENGTH)


Buying equipment (ie utensils/knapsack sprayers) for the group

Group joined NAADS

Water jars

Planting trees

Constructing road

Improved methods of farming (for Irish potatoes and beans)

Buying utensils

Training and advice

Good leadership

Access to money/capital


Dream exercise 1

Close your eyes for 3-5 minutes and imagine what you would like your community to look like 5-10 years from now.

Women dreamed of:
forming a group to make handicrafts, planting irish as a group, raising poultry as a group… to build a primary school, improve the local road (to make it easier for children to reach school), building houses for teachers, building a secondary school.

Men dreamed of:

- poultry raising and piggery activities through group contributions and cooperation

- zero grazing cattle activities through mobilizing and training each other

- building a school with the teachers, children and land they have, through cooperation and group contributions

- building better roads communally,

- building a nearby health center through assistance of the government and group contributions

- having abundant food and good diet for children through planting a variety of foods, attending workshops to learn better methods of organic farming

- better hygiene and sanitation through home monitoring visits and incentive gifts for those with clean homes

- gravity water near to them through help from NGOs and their own contributions

- Improving the market for their produced goods through better roads

Youth dreamed of:

Making bricks, raising pigs and poultry, and beekeeping (all as group activities)… to build permanent houses for themselves.

Dream Phase 2

Imagine that 5-10 years from now, the village has won an award given to villages who make the best plans and achieve them. The task at hand is to write a letter to the President of Uganda, informing him of how the award was won and the plans that the Village had managed to achieve.

Each group completed a letter, and the 3 letters were combined into one, as follows below (the bolded items were identified as immediate action points).

A letter to the President of Uganda

We the people of Hamukaaka village, over the past 5-10 years, have managed to achieve the things written below in our village.

We have managed to produce handicrafts, plant irish potatoes on our land, rear goats and pigs, cows and poultry. And we have managed to put up a school. We have constructed water jars, built a market, made bricks, and constructed our own permanent houses with iron sheets, leaving the grass thatched houses. We have also built houses for our teachers, and constructed a secondary school.

We have managed to accomplish these things using our knowledge, good leadership, our own strengths, advice and assistance from NGOs like Africare and NAADS, hard work, honesty and commitment.

And at the end of it all, they danced.

From my wwworld to yours, I wish you a wonderful 2008 holiday season that is blessed with special meaning and unanticipated joy.