the poultry project

Eric Wafana b.2002 – d.2012

June 14th, 2012

This week, Peter Welikhe (Poultry Project’s Uganda Director) shared some devastating news with us. Eric Wafana, age 10, passed away. Eric and his mother, Sophie, joined the Poultry Project  back in 2006. Sophie worked hard to grow her project, purchase a cow with profits and in 2011, she bought a small coffee farm.

When we met Eric, he was just a toddler. Last summer, he was a robust youth, doing well in school and full of smiles. Despite access to ARVs, medical care and education and the unconditional love and support of a powerful, courageous mother, Eric could not fight the odds against him. We don’t have all the details, but it is likely that TB, malaria or another curable, communicable disease weakened his compromised immune system.

One of the main purposes of the Poultry Project is to spread awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Stigma, controversy and ignorance still hinder national and international prevention efforts. Aid dollars often never reach the folks, like Eric, in need. And then there’s a plethora of historical, structural, economic and political issues that complicate HIV/AIDS prevention, service, and treatment. Add extreme poverty, weak social/medical/academic infrastructure, malaria and TB to the mix and it seems like Eric was up against the world.

It’s days like these that make us recognize the fragility and miracle of life. We are humbled to have walked hand-in-hand with Eric.  And we honor Eric, his family, his mother, his fight, his life. Rest in peace, sweet Eric.

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Meet the Team: David

June 8th, 2011

Before the chicken coop construction began, Peter recruited David, a TASO Mbale handyman, to help with the building. David is proficient with a panga, which quickly became the primary tool for the coop build. The model coop took three days to build. Originally, we expected each family to construct their own coop; however, after the first on-site build, the farmers asked for help. With the coop build time down to four hours, we decided to have the build team construct all 53 coops.We built 13 coops while we were in Uganda. This month, David is traveling all over Eastern Uganda to construct the remaining 40 coops.

This coop building job is a great supplemental income for David–he’s making double his usual daily wage at each build. He has eight children to support, so the extra cash is always needed. David goes the extra mile and he’s so reliable and hard-working. During the builds, he never idles. David and Joe aimed to finish the coops faster each time. At Shamim’s house, David walked her around the coop giving her a tutorial on coop use, maintenance and security. David also helps lead the other build team members that are younger than him. He also taught Joe how to count to thirty in Lugisu. He’s an amazing man and we’re so grateful that he’s part of the Poultry Project team. Thanks, David!


FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Meet the Team: Peter Welikhe

June 6th, 2011

In 2007, Peter became the Social Support Officer at TASO Mbale and took on full responsibility for the on-the-ground management of the Poultry Project as our Regional Manager. Peter is the best! He has his hands full with providing support services to thousands of TASO clients, managing the Poultry Project, working on a Master’s Degree, and being a family man. He continues to amaze us with his enviable management savvy, vision, creativity, compassion and a relentless commitment to serving others. As they often say in Uganda, “I do not have words,” we too cannot find the words to express our gratitude and appreciation to Peter for sharing his time, intelligence, spirit and energy with the Poultry Project. Thank you, Peter.


FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Poultry Project Farmer-Appreciation Day, Mbale

June 3rd, 2011

The Poultry Project expanded its services to TASO centers in Soroti and Tororo this year, but our roots are in Mbale. We planned a party/workshop for our Mbale farmers to create an opportunity for the old and new farming families to meet, have fun and spend a little time talking about poultry farming. Lona, one of the original farmers, sang a song of appreciation to the Poultry Project. She’s a single mother with two children and she has grown her small flock of chickens into a successful business, acquiring several goats and a cow. Her oldest child, Yekosophat, is at the top of his class and their poultry business made regular school attendance possible. Several of the original farmers stood up to share their experiences, challenges and goals. The new families asked questions and relationships were formed. Peter and Joe went over the savings match program with the participants and awarded prizes for Farmers of the Year. Steven and Sophie were the 2011 winners and they each received leather-band watches–something they said they needed and loved but would never buy for themselves.

It was really amazing to be in Mbale five years after the first Poultry Project workshop, to see our friends and learn about their achievements with their poultry businesses, to be able to work with more families and to watch the children grow. But several children were missing from the party. Between 2007 and 2011, five of the original Poultry Project beneficiaries died from AIDS-related illness. Before the party, we were in Peter’s office working on some project reports and I noticed a small note and photograph laying on top of a box of tools. I recognized the photo, so I picked it up. It was a note I wrote to John Natule back in late 2007 along with a photo taken of John and his uncle (also his guardian, both his parents died from AIDS-related illness). It was a short note telling John that we’re thinking about him and we hope that he’s in school and working hard. I asked him questions about his day; what is he in to; how is the family; how’s the poultry – are they laying, is he eating the eggs, selling the eggs, etc; what does he want to be; where does he want to go.

John died in 2008 at the age of 1o or 11. TASO counselors worked hard to ease the tensions in the household, as John was treated differently than his cousins because of his HIV+ status. I felt sad reading that letter. The letter was almost laughable, like how is this silly letter going to make a difference, how is the poultry business going to make a difference. I felt so helpless and inadequate. Francis, a TASO counselor, came into the office and immediately became aware of me and my little moment with the note. He knew I was upset and he took the note from my hand. He remembered John. I told Francis how I was having a hard time understanding and dealing with all the emotions involved in working with sick children. He didn’t have any answers about why John died and other HIV+ children thrive, or why babies are still  being born every hour with HIV in Africa even though it’s totally preventable, or why children suffer abuse from family members, or why some children have access to everything they need and others don’t. He just gave me a hug. He deals with death, sickness and extreme poverty everyday. He’s not immune to its emotional toll, but the work has hardened him. I didn’t feel better, I just felt numb. It’s easy to ignore these realities when I’m home in Ohio in my comfy house, with access to everything I need and the security of knowing that if there was a major tragedy, I have a support network that is unbreakable. I have never starved nor have I ever put a starving baby to bed. I have had my share of suffering, just different kinds. Having the workshop after reading that letter made me feel hopeful and inspired. I met so many women and children determined to work hard and to not let life’s obstacles get in the way. I remembered the reasons why we started the Poultry Project–to give HIV/AIDS-affected children and their caregivers an opportunity to earn income. It’s really simple and it’s been working. Everyday, we are trying to improve our service delivery by strengthening capacity building trainings, improving the assets we give the families (i.e. healthy chickens, chicken coops), conducting in-depth monitoring and evaluation, and diversifying our funding sources. We have all come a long way and we’re going to keep moving forward.

The party ended with a moving performance by the TASO Mbale Drama Group…

[Photos by Kevin Kopanski]

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Mbale Coop-Material Delivery | Willison

June 2nd, 2011

After weeks of artful negotiations with the Mbale lumber and hardware dealers, unloading and carrying hundreds of heavy poles and planks, and hours traveling on bumpy, muddy roads for chicken coop material deliveries, we were finally at the end. We had four deliveries to go in the Manafwa district, southeast of Mbale. We all loaded into the same turquoise painted construction truck used for every pick-up and delivery (including Soroti), with me and Emily in the front and Joe, Peter, Kevin and David in the back, atop the wood, mesh and poles.

Manafwa district borders Mbale, Tororo, Kenya and Bududa District. With tropical rain forest, mountain vegetation and some savannah grassland, it is a lush, agriculturally rich region. Arabica coffee grows in abundance. We drove to the top of a Mt. Elgon foothill for the first drop-off to a home next to a primary school. The school occupied the top of the tiny mountain with panoramic views of the countryside. The children, all dressed in fluorescent pink uniforms, were outside for recess and they gathered around the truck to watch the unloading. We made two more deliveries and ended the day with a home visit and delivery to Willison.

Willison, age 10, and his three sisters lost their father to AIDS-related illness. Their mother abandoned the family several years ago when she learned of the father’s HIV status; her whereabouts are unknown. Willison and his sisters live with an aunt near their paternal grandfather’s banana farm. They are surrounded by family and have lots of support, but additional income is needed to pay for their school fees, miscellaneous medical expenses, clothing and food. We gathered under an old shade tree at the grandfather’s house with Willison’s family to discuss the Poultry Project (coop, poultry management, success stories). Willison was shy at first but started to open up, especially with Emily and Kevin.  As we were leaving, one of Willison’s cousins presented us with a large branch of bananas from the grandfather’s farm–heartwarming generosity!


FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Wanale Ridge

May 28th, 2011

Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. Travelers usually head to the western, southwestern and northern regions of the country to spot mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, see elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park and go on safari in Kidepo. We’ve been to Uganda a few times, but our work has kept us focused on Mbale and the surrounding areas (no time or money to go on a big African safari). The Brandt Uganda Travel Guide describes Mbale as a town to pass through, not stay in. It dismisses the eastern region like US travel guides dismiss Ohio (our home state), but we disagree. Mbale is paradise. From any point in the city you can see Wanale Ridge, part of the Mount Elgon range. Wanale is dotted with tiny thatched-roof homes and terraced gardens. Men and women run down the steep mountain paths with jerry cans of water and cooking oil, bananas, and other heavy bundles perfectly balanced on their heads. Children climb trees and play football with their homemade soccer balls. Farmers cultivate every inch of the arable land, the soil is so rich. Wanale Ridge is such a grounding force in Mbale, especially when you’re in town, amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Last Sunday, we had some free time and decided to walk up Wanale. It certainly wasn’t a gorilla trek and we didn’t see any giraffes or cute tree monkeys, but we did witness some of the most beautiful views and landscape we’ve ever seen. Banyan trees, wild flowers, granite and limestone rocks, lush banana and coffee plantations, cows and goats grazing on land that seemed to be on top of the world–we didn’t need to go on safari to see Uganda’s bounty, beauty and might.

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare


May 26th, 2011

Proper nutrition is a critical component of care in people living with HIV/AIDS.  In partnership with USAID, TASO implemented a therapeutic feeding program to support malnourished child clients.  Each Tuesday and Thursday the clients gather in the children’s clinic and patiently wait to be seen by their counselors and physicians.  While waiting, a nutrition technician gathers anthropometric measures suchs height, weight and mid arm circumference.  These measures determine which children receive the high energy, fortified feeding packs called “Plumpy-Nut”.    The supplement is basically 3/4 cup of peanut butter with added milk powder, sugar, soybean oil, and vitamins & minerals.  Some children are prescribed up to five per day depending on their status.

In the past, all children who presented with moderate to severe malnutrition were given the supplements.  However, a recent cut-back in funding has made the cut-off more stringent and TASO can only provide supplements to those who are categorized as “severly malnourished.”

One of our newly added participants receives the nutrition services at TASO.  His name is Akoth – we met him at the Tororo workshop, he sat in the front row with his older sister.  At first glance, I thought he was around 8 or 9 years old.  His eyes are large, glassy and black, with a focused stare that seemed to look right through me.  His shoulders were narrow and the sleeves of his tee shirt fell past the elbow, hiding his bony forearms.  His chest would slowly rise with each inhale; labored breathing was apparent.  He would place his hands on his somewhat misshapen head to either stay awake or fight back the pain of a headache.  He seemed uncomfortable, so I quickly asked the counselor if there was anything we could do for the little boy.  She shared with me that this small child was hungry, he didn’t feel well and he in fact, was not a child, but 17 years old.  This was the first time that I’d seen such marked effects of undernutrition.  Akoth is HIV positive, has stunted growth and is severely anemic.

Childhood stunting is a reduced growth rate caused by malnutrition in early childhood or malnutrition during fetal development due to a malnourished mother.  Stunting and its effects are permanent.  Children who experience this nutrition-related disorder, in most cases, do not regain the height and weight lost as a result.  Overtime, the child will be faced with physical conditions that result in premature death because vital organs never fully develop.  Children born with HIV are at a higher risk for stunted growth because of their increased nutrient needs and compromised immune systems.

While TASO provides the therapeutic feeding program, it’s never enough for some children.  Due to extreme poverty, chronic illness and inadequate healthcare, some children will never get a chance at a normal childhood.

This post, and blog in general, is not a call for action from our readers.  Rather, an opportunity for the reader to imagine the reality as it exists here in Uganda and much of the developing world.

Akoth, 17

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

Build a Coop + Expansion – May 2011

March 4th, 2011

We’ve been working hard over the past few months to plan for our upcoming work trip to Uganda.

On the agenda:

1. Build a Coop 2011: Emily Axtman, the 2nd place winner of the Chicken Coop Design Competition, will go to Uganda to work with Poultry Project participants to design an easy-to-assemble, durable, efficient chicken coop made from local materials.  After the model coop is designed, Axtman will hold building workshops where participants will receive the materials and assistance to build their own coops.

2. Mbale Expansion: The team at TASO has identified 15 families to add to the project in the Mbale region.  In May, we will visit some of these families at their homes, procure and prepare the distribution of each families’ poultry business assets and host their first training workshop.  These added families will also receive supplies and instruction for building coops.

3. TASO Expansion: The success of the Poultry Project has been noticed by TASO’s executive leadership and they want us to begin working with other TASO branches (11 throughout Uganda).  Expansion to the Soroti and Tororo TASO branches is planned for May and we hope to plan to work with 15 families at each location.

To fund this huge endeavor, we have rallied our networks of friends, colleagues and family to spread the word about the Poultry Project and to get involved in our fundraising campaign.  We also have an event planned at the Woods in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), NY for early April – more details to come.

Ways to get involved:

1. Follow us on Facebook.

2. Become a part of our fundraising team on Crowdrise.

3. Donate $5, $10, $20, $100 – whatever you can give – at

4. Spread the word!

Your compassionate concern and continued support help us give the HIV/AIDS-affected children of Uganda an opportunity to earn money, acquire farming and business skills and improve their lives.  We are forever grateful!

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

4th qtr report 2009

January 27th, 2010

Our Poultry Project General Manager, Peter Weilkhe, compiled the following report detailing participants’ progress over the last quarter of 2009.  Currently, Peter’s reporting is the only monitoring and evaluation mechanism we have to assess the efficacy and impact of the Poultry Project.  I am posting the report to keep the Poultry Project accountable to its donors and participants.  I invite readers to offer feedback, suggestions, and commentary.


The Poultry Project that was started in 2006 for initially 20 OVC has had to expand and touch the lives of over 20 OVC and their siblings. It has been noted that the success of the program has caused recognition from government
authorities at local level, caused competition and served as a learning point for many around these areas among other strong points. By far the poultry project has had a big impact on the lives of the OVC, and their families as illustrated in this report, many have had their hope restored, got involved and learnt a lot in sustainable livelihood programming among others.  To give you a better beginning of evaluating our success, below were and are still the objectives of the program since 2006
· To ameliorate the dire situation orphans and vulnerable children find themselves
in by empowering them to become self-sufficient through active participation in
an income generating activity.
· To provide sustainable support for child-headed families and HIV+ children
through income generating activity (smallholder poultry production – layers)
· To develop skills and confidence among participants through dedicated,
responsible participation in this program, while fulfilling the mission of TASO -
contribute to a process of restoring the quality of life of persons and communities
infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
We are hopeful the future programming is going to be more informed!


(1)FAITH- Bukedea.
Faith is now a happy young and healthy girl. She is happy to receive visitors and shows a great improvement in the way she does her work. She has been promoted to primary three in the coming year 2010. The family has so far acquired a cow from the 6 goats that they had early in the year. The cow is currently pregnant. The family has retained one hen which is now laying.  How the project has benefited the family · The bicycle has helped the family transport themselves and faith to the hospital whenever they fall sick.
· The sale of 10 hens helped them meet medical bills and food for the family.
· The family has been having a balanced diet because of the eggs they eat at least 3 times a week.
· The chicken droppings have been used for manure in the kitchen garden.
· The family was able to raise 50.000= fifty thousand shillings as pocket money for Kedi Ben who is now doing a bachelor of commerce distance programme at makerere university year one
Over all the family is very happy and have hope.
Is always at school but the uncle has been running the project on her behalf when ever she is at school. Poultry is doing very well so far the family has 184 hens and harvests 12 eggs a day .and makes a tray in 3 days.  Because of his hard work in the project, he was selected by the community to benefit from the NAADS (National Agricultural Advisory Services) who have given him a fencing wire for his compound.  He sold 3 goats and paid school fees for Betty at 150.000= for the previous term. And 1 goat died.
· He was selected as a lead farmer in his area by the NAADS programme.-this he attributes to the project.
· Payment of fees for the whole year.
· Having a balanced diet for the whole family at least an egg in 2 days.
· Has a stable income of 6000= UGShs every 3 days.
· Has been able to support other siblings in basic supplies.
· Hopes to buy a cow from the hens soon.
(3)PETER-child headed home.
The home is now clean and habitable .the hens are 9 and 9 chicks and 1 goat the family. The family has been able to eat some eggs regularly although they could not remember exactly how many. The bicycle is still in running condition and supports in domestic work besides helping peter take his firewood to the market and family to health unit besides collecting food for peter and his family. He sold 2 sheep and 3 goats to buy food for the family during the famine period
in the area. There was a lot of drought that affected the crops and yield was so poor. The family is happy the project rescued them.  The eggs supplement locally grown food.  Peter is now happy and busy tilling the land again for next year.
His major challenge is the jealous villagers who want to encroach on his land.
Has been promoted to senior four although with a poor grade div 4.  The family has used the aggregate they bought from the ground nut business to put up a ring beam on their house.  They lost all their birds to Newcastle disease and so far have 2 goats.  The challenge was during drought, most of the profits from the business were used to buy food for the family which is so extended totalling to 11.  Agnes also looks to be struggling in school. We are planning a discussion with
her director of studies early next year to see if we could iron out the issues surrounding her performance especially that she is going to a candidate class senior 4.the other option will be to support her do a skills course if she is not able
to handle the formal education.
Jude has 2, cocks, 6 hens and 1 goat. From their garden, the harvest was not so much only a basin of ground nuts due to drought. The family currently survives on the cassava and potatoes they had planted. Jude got only 4 points at school out of a possible 19 points. He attributed that performance to the many issues at home where his little sister Maria who was attending a primary teacher’s course at ST Mary’s eloped with a man, got pregnant and sold some food wanting to abort. She later moved away from home to unknown destination but rumours indicate she has eloped with a boyfriend who is yet to be identified.  The other challenge to the family was the grandmothers house got burnt and after collective support from the community, a new one was built which barely lasted 5 days and was burnt by a wild candle bringing the number to 2 burnt houses in an environment of OVC who have little they can do.
Achievements from the project.
· Sells some eggs to buy the domestic requirements to support Christy.
· Source of food.
· Have a cassava garden which is serving them hopefully up to Jan 2010
3 hens and 18 chicks. She has also acquired a sheep at 45000= and has enabled the family enjoy a balanced diet when it comes to selling and eating the eggs and the proceeds of the sales.  Esther is also doing well in school and has been promoted to senior 3.  Esther’s untie has also started a ground nut business as can be seen in the photo that will be sent in Jpeg.she says she started this business after acquiring the ideas from the workshop and meetings with colleagues.
Her siblings have fully embraced the project and so far have 16 hens. And 1 goat.  The bicycle is supporting them with domestic work as the person who was ridding got another business to do.they have always sold eggs to get food and
also eating part of them. They look healthy and happy.

Given their location, poultry is always stolen. They have resorted to using their bicycle to do casual work for a pay which they use to feed themselves. They have been supplementing that with cassava from their garden. The boys are not
interested in going to school for formal education as they say they are too big for the classes and some times they don’t pick what the teachers are teaching. In our assessment if possible we are thinking of linking one of the boys to a skills
builder for example a tailor to help him get the basic skills and there after support him do some business which the rest can support/be supported .
Was not at home for the last time we visited and according to reports she could have gone to Kampala to work as a house girl. Kampala is the capital city of Uganda where many young girls and boys admire to go. The care taker says from the sale of the bicycle, they bought 2 goats.
Is a happy and hopeful young child. she was promoted to primary two and so far has 2 goats and 3 hens.shamim and the grand mother have always had a balanced diet and supplemented their food with an egg once a week.
They hope that with time, they will get a cow from their project.
TO VISIT IN January when the ground is dry.
(12)DOREEN -not visited due to bad weather. We hope to visit in January when the ground is dry.
The family has 5 hens .the bicycle has been able to support them pay fees for Sandra,. the fees include lunch and breakfast. They have also been able to provide for her scholastic materials from the bicycle earnings. They appreciate the poultry project so much for it has helped them reduce on the dependence burden.
They have moved to another place which is yet to be located .
So far has 12 hens and had their goat stolen. They however plan to buy another one from the chicken they have. They have now moved to the new site after the land issue was resolved and the old woman together with Rashid allowed to stay
in the proposed site.a temporary structure was erected as Juma about to complete the roofing of the other structure .photos will be coming early January.
Was 9th in class out of 67 and promoted to primary six in the coming year 2010.his other sibling Joan had and average 40 in class and was also promoted to primary 2,the other sister Evelyn sat for primary leaving examinations. The family is now happy in their new house .they have one goat and 3 hens.they sold 2 hens and supported themselves with food when conditions were too hard. As of now the family is happy and planning to set up a kitchen and structure for the goat.
Was not available at home during the first quarter report as he had gone to Kampala to look for some jobs there but came back as he was not getting. He has 1 goat and a calf from the bicycle. He is hopeful the two items can help him
have some bigger assets in the coming future. Currently he is planning to hire some gardens and plant some crops for next year. As par the other domestic social bit of life, he divorced with his wife and that is one of the reasons the home was deserted in the early part of the year 2009
(18) YEKOSOPHAT-sironko
Was promoted to primary four with an average of 90% in eight subjects.yekosophat is hardworking at home as well as he spends most of the time looking for food for his two bulls. He also has 1 hen. Most of the last three months, the mother khainza has been attending to the young one who has been sick but by the time o the visit, the baby was fine. The family is very hopeful that come next year their bulls will be paired with other bulls inn the village to do ploughing and all that comes with increased food security for the family. They appreciate the project so much.
(19) ERIC
Had cough at the time of visit 17th Dec 2009 but was happy and able to perform other duties at home. Eric so far has two cows at home .the proceeds from the bicycle was added on to the goats and another bull was bought. This means Eric has a heifer and a bull from the project. The family also has 8hens and 2 goats from the project. He did not perform well in primary one and will repeat next year. Eric’s mother Sophie is planning to marry again early next year to another person of the same status. She has requested for drama group to be there on her ceremony and will update you on the developments.
Happy with the project and so far has 12 hens .her bicycle has been supporting to take her to the clinic quite often and has been supplementing her diet from the poultry project, eats an egg in 2 days and is healthier despite the many trips to
the clinic.
His sibling together with the grand mother have been able to continue with the project and so far have 3 goats from the project. This goat was procured from the sale of chicken when it was pregnant. The two kittens were born after as will be
seen in the jpeg that will be sent separately. Simon who replaced late Anania was promoted to primary six .

(22)MICHAEL.  The family encountered a misfortune early December when their house was burnt to ashes. They are currently at a neighbors place until early next year as we plan rehabilitation exercise.

The family has 12 hens and has been happy to have sold eggs to buy domestic requirements. Emma repeated primary seven and sat for his exams. We wait for his results early 2010.the family has also been mobile a little during November
and December while attending to their sick grandmother

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailPrintFriendlyShare

act now