Carpentry Project Lessons Begin!

Our latest blog post is written by Jonny Fraser, who is currently volunteering in Uganda for 3 months to train the men and get the carpentry project up and running. You can read more on his blog here: http://www.jfcj.co.uk/

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At the end of last week, when all the benches and tools were organised and moved on site I was handed a list of roughly 30 men and teenagers. It was great to see all those names, too many names perhaps as I thought about the potential chaos I would be facing on monday if everyone turned up. 30 men would mean 6 per bench. I quickly devised a timetable to try and split them up between the weekdays into 3 hour lessons.

As I nailed the lesson plan onto the front door of the workshop, I realised that despite all my planning things might not go as smoothly as I anticipated. I left the timetable there over the weekend and asked the KCK cooridinator to point people towards the plan and try and spread the word out into the slum. Nevertheless, the first day came and went. 5 teenagers turned up, they were not the 5 I had marked down for Monday's lesson but I had planned to teach 5 at a time and 5 had turned up so but what the heck.

The week was made up of a series of sessions focusing on two learning outcomes. Firstly measuring, marking, squaring and cutting and secondly learning two simple joints; scarf and mitre. I asked for feedback and they all seemed to be enjoying the lessons and were more or less sticking to the timetable.

So in the end I had two groups of 5 this week. The first group made up of mainly teenagers and the second a mix of some men in their late 20's and a few more teenagers. I want to try to pass the responsibility onto the men and not the teenagers, for obvious reasons. As the project starts to take shape I have been thinking about its future and what kind of position I want it to be in when I leave it in 8 weeks time.

Ultimatly the core idea of this initiative and a core value of KCK is to be community led and community driven. The idea is to leave the workshop in the hands of the men. The main goal is that they would utilise the "tools" we have provided them, and the monthly support for basic materials to build their way out of poverty and start to be able to finance the running costs themselves.

Thinking outside the box a bit more, I began considering the bigger picture. A landlocked, developing country such as Uganda needs to rely on its neighbours in order to utilise their nearest port for shipping overseas to reach global markets. Being landlocked isnt always bad but in order for it to be good it should be surrounded by countries willing to buy from it. It should be surrounded by its market. Like Switzerland is. The timber in Uganda is beautiful and cheap, at least from a western perspective the items that could be made once the standard of craftmanship is high would sell like hotcakes and with huge profit margins.

Kids Club Kampala have a womens initiative which sells handmade crafts by the women. These crafts are mainly necklaces, bracelets, bags and small items which are easily transported. Proportionally in terms of size this arrangement works well, a small package can fit enough items to sell and make large enough profit to make it worthwhile. I did some calculations and drawings today for a coffee table as the first project for the men. Using this beautiful timber Muagvu going by the local name, a deep walnut like timber with a natural luster to it would cost around £5... If it was walnut it would be more like £100! If we were to try and find a global market alongside the local market for the men the profit margins would be much larger.

I have devised a lesson plan over the next 4 weeks in which the men will be drawing, cutting, assembling, finishing and hopefully finding a market. Firstly local and perhaps in the future, global. Below are some clips from this weeks sessions:

If you would like any more information about our carpentry project, or if you would like to get involved or support in any way, please email us on info@kidsclubkampala.org, we would love to hear from you.