By PDG Philippe Lamoise
In late 2010 and early 2011, I led a vocational training team from District 5340 in Southern California to District 9200 in Uganda, both Future Vision pilot districts. Ten years earlier, I was part of a Group Study Exchange (GSE) between the same two districts. While both trips were a great experience, I’m especially proud of what we accomplished as a VTT.
VTTs are groups of Rotarian and non-Rotarian professionals who travel to another country to learn more about their vocation or to teach local community members about a particular field. Our VTT, funded by a Rotary Foundation global grant, helped kick-start an Adopt-a-Village project in Nkondo, Uganda, that involved four areas of focus: water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, disease prevention and treatment, and economic and community development.
During the trip, our team of four Rotarians and three other professionals provided training in farming techniques, financial planning, and microcredit. We laid the groundwork for a clean water system, trained staff at a health clinic, and renovated a school’s computer room. We motivated the local government to provide additional public funding for the school and clinic, and paved the way for partnerships with three local nongovernmental organizations to help sustain the project.
A VTT team member discusses agriculture and irrigation techniques with a farmer in Nkondo, Uganda. Photo courtesy of District 5340
GSE supports travel for teams of non-Rotarians from a variety of professions, hosted by Rotarians who organize an itinerary of vocational, educational, and cultural experiences. My GSE was a great way to discover four countries in East Africa and establish new relationships with the Rotarians there. While the relationship-building aspects of a GSE are extremely important, I believe the VTT offers more value.
In July 2013, the GSE program will end with the implementation of the Foundation’s new grant model, also known as Future Vision, but districts will still be able to build relationships and find partners in service through the International Assembly, Rotary Convention, Rotary Showcase, Project-LINK, and other Rotary avenues. It will also be possible to use district grants to fund exchanges similar to a traditional GSE.
Pictured above: VTT team leader Philippe Lamoise provides microcredit training to farmers as part of an Adopt-A-Village project in Nkondo, Uganda.