Tag Archives: youth

Student Helps Kids in Uganda Become More Self-Sufficient

Pigs and chickens are practically staples of almost any animal farm in the world. For some, the two yield key ingredients of the quintessential breakfast. For a group of kids in Africa, these farm animals have become the ham and eggs that bring in the green — vital money resources that connect them to an education, in part, because of the help of one USF student.

From May through August, Mallory Aurellano-Browne developed a plan that allows disadvantaged youth in Uganda to generate their own income by selling livestock. She worked with 26 young people between 12 and 22 years old, all of whom had lost one or both parents to AIDS and were being raised by distant relatives.

“I didn’t want to be disrespectful and show sadness for their life stories. Instead, I knew I needed to tap into what I came there to do, and my biggest motivation was just working and playing with the kids, even if my plan didn’t work,” she said.

In her plan, the group would make a profit by breeding or raising two chickens or a pig. Pork is a popular food item in the area she worked, and Aurellano-Browne wanted to accommodate the Muslim children in her group with the option of raising hens. She bought 20 pigs and 12 chicken for about $450, giving one pig each to 20 kids, and two chickens to each of the six Muslim kids. Kids were also given a five pound bag of feed, nails and wood, and attended a pig sty building workshop.

She raised money for the supplies by promoting her project on GlobalGiving, a charity fundraising website for nonprofits.

“I was surprised — most of the people who donated were my friends, a bunch of broke college students,” she said, laughing.

Aurellano-Browne was paired up with Kitovu Mobile, an organization located in Uganda’s Masaka district that provides care and treatment to communities affected by HIV and AIDS, as part of a Sarlo Scholars’ summer program. She devised and conducted the first income generating strategy for the youth in Masaka’s Kabonera sub-county, where farming is a main source of income and food.

While the sub-county’s population is mostly made up of children under the age of 18, it’s common to find only a small percentage of them attend school. Unable to afford attending school, these individuals spend each day doing arduous tasks like fetching gallons of water, carrying wood, or making bricks. These jobs often pay about 5,000 Ugandan Shillings, or barely two US dollars, each month, which is only enough to buy food for one family.

Aurellano-Browne said although one boy wanted to make more money carrying wood, his small body frame was not strong enough to take on the heavier wood load, which would give him a higher pay.

Oftentimes, Aurellano-Browne observed many of the children had the same responsibilities as their parents or caretakers. Yet while she perceived the workload as a harsh means to make a living, this lifestyle was fairly common among the Ugandans. “Between the youth and adults, I saw a different story. For the kids, this was just the way it was, they were born into it, but the adults felt like they had no connection to their children,” she said.

When she asked the children what they wanted to do with their profit, many of them said they hoped to be able to pay for school, in addition to buying coveted, costly goods like sugar and soap to wash their clothes.

“One of the best parts of being there was seeing the kids walk with their heads held high. Seeing their transition from the beginning of my trip to the end was amazing,” she said. Near the end of Aurellano-Browne’s 10 week stay, her group raised $700. She celebrated with Kitovu, as well as local government officials, who recognized the success of her plan.

By that time, Aurellano-Browne had already been welcomed by the community she worked in, and was even dubbed with the clan name Nassali, or ‘monkey’ in Ugandan, but the first few weeks of her stay were filled with homesickness, two encounters with malaria, and being called mzungu, which means ‘foreigner’ or ‘white person’. “I’m half black, but in Uganda, I was still viewed as an outsider. The whole time I was there, it was like I was playing tug of war trying to find common ground with the people there,” she said.

Wherever she went, young children ran to her, smiling and shouting “mzungu.” She said, “In some parts, mzungus are something like celebrities. One man even said to the kids, ‘Come touch her skin. She’s just like us!’”

Though it took Aurellano-Browne some time to adjust to her new surroundings, she said from the start, her host family treated her as their own kin, a kindness she especially appreciated when she contracted malaria while on safari.
Aurellano-Browne explained that her host mother, Mama Tamale, stayed with her in the hospital for three days, ensuring she received proper care and attention in the non-English-speaking facility which had no sheets on beds and did not offer food to its patients. When Tamale had to leave, she had her distant relatives come in to keep Aurellano-Browne company.

“I couldn’t believe that she did that. I don’t think the experience would have been the same without my host family,” she said.

Though Aurellano-Browne found it challenging to live off a diet of mashed green bananas, cabbage, and tough-skinned chicken, a wardrobe of five skirts and shirts, and a television with one channel, she said she eventually learned to adapt to the new, simple life. “I realized that a lot of the things I have are unnecessary.

The communities I worked with didn’t have much, but they’re happy,” she said. In her host home, Aurellano-Browne took showers by pouring buckets and used latrines formed by holes in the dirt floor. “Now, I’m scared that I’ll get too used to my life here, and forget about life in Uganda,” she said. Getting off the airplane in her hometown of Los Angeles was surreal, and she committed a whole day to recollecting her thoughts by herself.

Aurellano-Browne hopes to return to Uganda sometime soon and continues to keep in touch with her host family through Skype. “Being in a completely differently country and being part of a community to the point where we know each other’s faces, instead of just finishing my project and leaving — that was the best experience I got out of my trip,” she said. She is currently raising funds to apply her plan to another group of 26 Ugandan youth.

For an inside look at Aurellano-Browne’s work in Masaka, Uganda, check out her blog at ninethousandthreehundredand1.blogspot.com, which is named after the distance in miles between Uganda and San Francisco.

Supervisor David Campos Speaks on Immigration and Muni Policies

The University of San Francisco welcomed district nine supervisorDavid Campos for the McCarthy Center’s first Brown Bag event on February 9.
Campos’s district includes the Mission, Bernal Heights, St. Mary’s Park and Portola. Campos gave insight to modifying current city policies such as the reform of immigrant laws and the implementation of youth MUNI programs.
According to David Latterman, associate director of the McCarthy Center, Campos is “at the forefront of many immigration policies,” and as the leading supporter of the sanctuary city policy in San Francisco, Campos stressed the need for amendments to the Sanctuary Ordinance. The law, passed in 1989, prohibits city employees from arresting undocumented immigrants without warrant or law under the state or federal government.
“I think that San Francisco really represents the best this country has to offer. It’s a place that welcomes people from all over the world, from all over the country and it’s a place that not only tolerates but embraces diversity,” he said.
Under Campos’ 2009 law proposal, undocumented youth must be reported to federal immigration officials for potential deportation after being convicted of a felony, instead of when they are first arrested.
Former mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the change, and disregarded the Board of Supervisors’ overriding ing of the veto because he said the sanctuary ordinance “protects those residents of our city who are law-abiding,” not accused criminals.
Campos, who was once an undocumented immigrant, disagrees. According to him, a balance between protecting and reporting immigrants will create a better sense of security. He said it will create a situation where undocumented individuals are not afraid to report crimes to the police.
“If people do not feel comfortable in reporting crimes to the police, that makes the entire community less safe,” said Campos.
He referred to a 2009 case in which William J. Bratton, former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, was able to solve a murder investigation because an undocumented immigrant was not afraid to come forward to describe the account.
“People felt that San Francisco was no longer a welcoming place,” Campos said about the legislation veto. He called the fear of undocumented immigrants a “scapegoat” for the nation’s failing economy.
Campos currently continues to rally for an adjustment to the sanctuary city policy. Other state jurisdictions are influenced by immigration policies in San Francisco, one of the cities at the forefront of Boycott Arizona, he said. Boycott Arizona was organized in response to the Arizona SB 1070 Act in which local Arizona governments enforced immigration laws, making it legal for officers to question individuals’ immigration status and documented proof of residency.
“San Francisco can impact what happens at a larger level…This shows how San Francisco can take lead of an issue based on virtue of who we are,” Campos said.
The supervisor’s concern extends not only to immigration policies, but to public transportation benefits for minors.
Campos discussed the Free MUNI for youth program. It would allow children between ages five and 17 to ride public transit for free.
According to the supervisor, the program would cut costs for families, especially those spread thin between food and transportation expenses. Funding provided by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Unified School District would allow San Francisco to join cities like Portland and New York City who have adopted similar concepts.
Free MUNI for youth would cost approximately $8 million of SFMTA’s budget. The adopted budget which was based on the estimate of expenses for 2011-2012 is about $60 million. The Board of Supervisors is currently working on the program with MTA.

San Francisco Does Not Support LGBT Youth

SF Weekly reported in the article “Wounded Pride” last week that 34% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) middle school students in San Francisco have attempted suicide. Conversely, I spoke to a friend of mine in Arizona on the phone a few days ago and she asked me, “How’s life in the big gay city?” Something doesn’t make sense. How can San Francisco be viewed as the most gay friendly city in the country when our schools are chock-full of hate crimes, anti-gay bullying, and ignorance?

There are a few key reasons why this gap in perception exists. Go to the Castro and people watch and I think the first reason will become clear. The gay community, specifically in the Castro, has become something of a tourist attraction.

Visitors from outside the city populate Castro, taking pictures and observing the gay community in its “natural habitat.” In the time of Harvey Milk and the push for equal rights, the gay community spent a lot of time in the streets of the Castro, talking about social reform, networking with other community members, and focusing on change. Now, the gay community spends more time at dance clubs than town hall meetings. I remember walking to the bus from the Equality California office this summer and seeing about 50 people in line to get into Badlands club. I was the only volunteer at Equality California that night and it became clear that my community was much more willing to spend a Tuesday night partying than organizing against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Stray very far from the Castro and the rainbow flags become pretty sparse. The previously mentioned article in SF Weekly describes life for LGBT youth in the Mission district, where conservative Catholic values run deep in the heavily Hispanic community. In neighborhoods with large conservative immigrant communities (i.e. Mission, Richmond, Sunset, etc.), coming out is not an option for LGBT youth and San Francisco’s claimed “pride” is more foreign than most of us realize.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that approximately 14% of the total San Francisco adult population identifies as LGBT. That means 14 out of every 100 people in this city have experienced the hardship of being an LGBT youth. That 14%, however, is not present in the lives of today’s LGBT youth. Where are the support groups, mentor programs, and non-profit organizations that religious, ethnic, and racial minorities have created to aid their youth? While the adult LGBT community surrounds itself in the world of Castro glamour and disinterest, their absence is literally creating a new identity for San Francisco: the city of LGBT apathy. It follows that the second reason for misconceptions about San Francisco’s role as a gay oasis is the generational gap between adult members of the LGBT community and LGBT youth.
It is crucial for LGBT students and allies at USF to bridge the gap between older adults and our younger counterparts. As students at a school with such emphasis on social justice we are in a position of power. We have the resources to support LGBT youth and to convince working professionals in our community that their help is imperative in the effort to change the culture of LGBT isolation in our schools and in the lives of youth struggling with their sexual identity.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Opinion Editor: Laura Waldron