June Newsletter: Building Partnerships Not Just Giving Charity

“Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure.” 

-William Saroyan

Webster’s defines charity as follows: generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering, aid given to those in need, an institution, engaged in relief of the poor, public provision for the relief of the needy. 

All the major religious traditions emphasize the commandment to serve the poor or most needy. Zakat or the giving of charity is one of the five pillars of Islam, for the Jews it is Tzedakah. Charity is a major tenet of Christian faith as it is for the Hindu and the Buddhist. But you do not need to have a religious faith to value charity. Every year Americans give generously. In 2015, over 273 Billion dollars was donated and no one can deny that millions of people in need were served. 

And yet the typical ‘charity model’ has limitations which we ignore at our peril. Too often, especially in countries like Uganda, where Brick by Brick has been working since 2004, money is thrown at problems without the full engagement of the communities we are seeking to serve. 

All too often  “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Ten years ago, the ‘PlayPump’ was an innovative sensation, a playground merry-go-round for children, designed to pump water from wells in rural African communities. The World Bank was sold on the project, as was the CEO of AOL. The U.S. Government, with the support of First Lady Laura Bush, awarded a $16.4 million grant and other big donors started to line up behind this great idea, merging an urgent need for safe, clean water, with children’s need for play. Despite the millions raised and spent, no one had sufficiently engaged the communities who would be served by this intervention, and thus many practical aspects were overlooked. Simple things like the fact that children soon tired when pushing the PlayPump or that some were seriously injured or that the simpler hand pump provided five times the water with much less effort. The hand pumps were actually preferred by local women who found pushing the PlayPump exhausting and demeaning. 

We don’t have to look that far to see the folly that can come when the ‘power of  good ideas’ are given too much weight, overlooking the views of our partnering communities and disregarding the importance of culture in effectively addressing any problem.  We can look in the mirror! In 2010 we noted that 80% of our students did not eat lunch on a regular basis. As a small community-based non-profit we were looking for an innovative and sustainable solution to what was basically a lack of resources for a school lunch program at our five partnering schools. Partnering with industry leaders here in the U.S. and piloting the Egg Module, a comprehensive tool to support small-scale poultry enterprises in the developing world, we launched the Poultry Project. Our business model was well researched and sound, good enough to attract a major investor with a proven track record. We partnered with a successful poultry farmer, with a ten-year history of success locally. And yet, while all the pieces for success were in place, with a skilled management team on the ground, after two years, our promising project ended in failure. After an exhaustive and honest self-analysis, we had to face the fact that throughout this project, we had failed to fully empower our Ugandan partner. Misunderstandings and a profound lack of cultural intelligence led to critical mistakes that doomed the Poultry Project. 





While we do not covet failure at Brick by Brick, we have found that confronting our mistakes with honest humility can be an effective strategy for success. All of our programs now conform to a model built on open and consistent communication with our partners, who are also the beneficiaries of our programs. 

We always begin with the identification of a critical need by our Ugandan communities. Close monitoring and evaluation inform our program interventions. All of our successes to date have been a close collaboration with our partners. For example, we have completed or are currently engaged in the construction and renovation of nine free Universal Primary Education Schools serving over 3000 students. All of these schools have been re-built with a 25% contribution from the surrounding rural community. 

In 2012, after a survey of 139 girls and young women, we launched the My Pads Program, an innovative program that trains local teachers to share vital reproductive and sexual health knowledge with their students, while addressing the need for affordable menstrual hygiene products. Last year, the U.S. Government, with a DREAMS Innovation Challenge, recognized this program, allowing us to expand to sixteen local secondary schools and include the training of peer educators throughout our district. 

Maternal and Newborn mortality is a serious problem, recognized by both national and district-level health leadership. Our Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program is a vital partnership with the Rakai District Department of Health, to dramatically improve the health of mothers and their newborn babies in the Rakai District. Without the on-going support of local government, and the participation of our 24 partnering health facilities, we would not have shown significant reductions in life threatening complications after only one year of work. 

Success for Brick by Brick is two-fold. We measure the direct impacts of our programs that improve education, health and economic opportunity. But that is not enough.  Our model of building partnerships means that we are only successful if we are including the communities we serve in all aspects of our programming.  In the end, we are only as strong as the communities we serve; building their capacity is the true measure of our success. 

Coming in the July Newsletter: Being a Social-Investor: How are your dollars changing lives?


              James Murduca and Construction Manager David Mutesaasira 

              James Murduca and Construction Manager David Mutesaasira 

James Murduca is a son of New Jersey with a heart of gold. While pursuing a Masters Degree at the University of South Florida in Civil Engineering, James learned of the work Brick by Brick was doing for the people of Uganda. James believes that access to clean and safe water and sanitation systems is a human right. This month we interviewed James about his two years working with Brick by Brick.

What has inspired your interest in engineering in the global context, especially tackling tough water and sanitation issues that are common in the developing world?

Ever since deciding to pursue a career in engineering, my purpose has always been to use my skills and to develop projects in the field to improve the quality of life for people around the world.  Upon graduating from The College of New Jersey with my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2013, I knew that I enjoyed my fluid mechanics courses and was deeply passionate about water as a precious resource.  Having learned that millions of people have limited access to basic amenities like clean running water, I desired to utilize my time and skill set to improve this situation by any means possible.  However, I did not know how I could do this.  While considering different opportunities and career paths, I discovered a program that included pursuing my Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a Concentration in Water Resources at the University of South Florida and a two-year internship experience with Brick by Brick to focus on water and sanitation.  Given my career and service objectives, I could not think of a better option.

You have been working with Brick by Brick Construction Company for almost two years, what accomplishment/s are you most proud of? 

Generally, my favorite accomplishments are when our staff work as a team and use our diverse talents and experience to complete a task or a project most effectively.  One example is from a time when we needed to assess multiple clients’ school sites for upcoming projects.  Given the fast growth of the company, we have been receiving many more inquiries requiring us to use our time more efficiently. Approximately a year into my service, the construction manager, David Mutesaasira, and I needed to assess four distant sites.  Combining David’s communication skills and my strategic planning, we were able to assess all four sites in one day, which would have seemed impossible at the time of my arrival.  Effectively combining our strengths to arrive at the best possible outcomes is when I feel most proud of our work.  Another time, a headmaster of a school asked David to alter an original design to include a security light at the expense of losing the only light in one teacher’s residence.  David and I discussed this issue and were able to adjust the design, such that the security light and the teacher’s light could be included without requiring additional equipment.

All of us who work in development deal with failure. Can you tell us a brief story of where you/we have failed and what we have learned from it?

One failure was when we unintentionally constructed one of our latrine projects at a larger scale than the original design approximately four months after my arrival.  The latrines now had unnecessary stances for the students, and the additions increased the cost of the project.  Adjusting the construction would have required a further increase in the cost, so the client now had a latrine with more stances.  Recognizing this mistake, I reflected on the causes.  In regards to construction and development projects, clear and consistent communication are extremely important for success.  This issue could have been prevented with improved communication.  As a result of this experience, I have focused on effective communication with all staff to ensure that all of us have the same understanding of our shared work.  I have learned that expressing any uncertainties, doubts, or misunderstandings and confirming mutual understanding among teams are extremely beneficial toward producing the best outcomes.

You are currently working on a very innovative research project with the support of Brick by Brick. Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on? 

My research project includes both a water needs assessment and a feasibility study of a sustainable water treatment technology.  The water needs assessment includes surveys on water managers’ attitudes, knowledge, and practices of drinking water management, an observational sanitary inspection, and quantitative water quality tests.  The treatment technology uses excess heat from a stove to disinfect water constantly flowing through a coiled pipe embedded in the chamber.  This technology encompasses the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental.  The system is inexpensive to construct and eliminates the need for additional fuel for boiling because cooking and heat treatment are performed at the same time.  The system also uses local materials and heat treatment, which is a commonly accepted and understood type of effective treatment option.  Lastly, this system reduces the amount of fuel, which is often firewood, hence preventing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.  The construction staff and first users’ have been eager to test and use the system.  After explaining the system to the cook, Maria, at the pilot school, she was very happy to reduce time needed in boiling water for the children. 

James, you leave Uganda in July after two years of dedicated service, what's up next for you?

I am extremely grateful for my experience working with Brick by Brick, and I will continue to make the most of the rest of my time in Uganda.  I will be defending my research in Tampa over the upcoming ‘17/’18 academic year to complete my degree.  In addition, I am currently seeking a job that fulfills my purpose to use my skills and to work on projects in this field to improve the quality of human life.  Lastly, my time in Uganda has helped me understand and appreciate my personal values.  After my departure, I plan on living a life that focuses on my values that include but are not limited to my professional service, health, educational growth, leisure, and last but certainly not least my family, friends, and my dog, Simba.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve our Ugandan communities these past two years.


     Blues Legend Shemekia Copeland will headline at our 6th Annual Blues Night

     Blues Legend Shemekia Copeland will headline at our 6th Annual Blues Night


2017 marks the sixth year that we have come together as a Brick by Brick community to support our work to promote sustainable development in the Rakai District of Uganda. Blues Night has become a regular spring time tradition, a night of great music, food and drink, with good friends, all committed to making a difference in the lives of thousands of people in our partnering communities.

This year we are thrilled to present Grammy-nominated Blues Legend, Shemekia Copeland who will be rocking the Prospect Park Picnic House on Thursday April 27th. 

Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem, New York on April 10, 1979, and came to her singing career naturally. Her father, the renowned Texas Bluesman Johnny Copeland recognized his daughter’s talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight.

By the time she was 16, Shemekia was joining her father as an opening act and at times stealing the show. Shemekia stepped out of her father’s shadow in 1998 with her groundbreaking debut CD, Turn The Heat Up, recorded when she was only 18. Critics from around the world celebrated her music as fans of all ages agreed that an unstoppable new talent had arrived. News outlets from The New York Times to CNN took note of Copeland’s talent, engaging personality, and true star power. “Nothing short of uncanny,” wrote the Village Voice. “She roars with a sizzling hot intensity,” added The Boston Globe.

Shemekia has multiple Grammy-nominated recordings and has earned eight Blues Music Awards, a host of Living Blues Awards (including the prestigious 2010 Blues Artist Of The Year) and more accolades from fans, critics and fellow musicians. She has sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “f*cking amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” At the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival, the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois officially declared Copeland to be “The New Queen Of The Blues.” In 2012, she performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Afterward, Jagger, with whom she sang, sent her a bottle of champagne.

Brick by Brick is so proud that Shemekia Copeland will grace the Blues Night Stage this year. Please join us for what will be a wonderful evening of the Blues, great food and good friends. You can purchase your tickets by clicking HERE




For those of us working to improve the health and well being for people in the developing world, we know that the oppression of women and girls is a root cause of persistent poverty. Women, who only receive 10% of the world’s income, do 70% of work performed globally. Girls are more likely to be deprived of even a primary education, and drop rates for girls in sub-Saharan Africa are consistently higher than boys. The risk of dying in childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa is unspeakably high at 1 in 22; here in the U.S. it is 1 in 4800!

Our Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) and My Pads Programs, directly work to empower girls and women to improve health and education. Why do women die in childbirth in such large numbers globally? For decades the global health community has known the causes of high maternal mortality in the developing world. Almost all of the 303,000 women who die annually can be linked to one of Three Delays:

  • The delay in the decision to seek care: This delay is directly impacted by the low socio-economic status of women. In many countries, women lack the right to make health decisions for themselves or the financial resources to get from remote villages to a health center. Often, pregnant and laboring women lack the knowledge regarding warning signs of labor complications.
  • Delay in reaching care: This delay is due to poor transportation systems and infrastructure and the lack of funds to pay for transport to health centers when needed.
  • Delay in receiving quality care once reaching a health facility: This final delay is due to the lack of knowledgeable and trained staff, medical supplies and equipment and referral systems.

The Babies and Mothers Alive Program is an active partnership with the Rakai District health system to address these key issues that put mothers and their babies lives and health at risk. Over the past 21 months we have:

  • Performed assessments of the 24 health centers and hospitals providing maternal and newborn care to the half-million people of the Rakai District
  • Trained and mentored the nurses, midwives and physicians at these facilities in the essential knowledge and skills needed to manage the complications of childbirth that put lives at risk
  • Built the capacity of health administrators and district-level officials to monitor and evaluate quality of care so that they can take the corrective actions  needed to improve health for mothers and babies
  • Begin to identify local advocates for maternal and newborn health, who will serve as community educators as well as continue to strengthen systems at the local level that are needed to address this problem
  • Begin a community-based health education program, to build awareness amongst women and their families regarding the importance of skilled attendance at childbirth
  • In 2016, we demonstrated a 50% reduction in serious and life threatening complications

Why do girls in Uganda and throughout sub-Saharan Africa drop out of primary and secondary school at higher rates than their male counterparts? As with maternal and newborn mortality, there is no one answer. Girls are often kept at home to help with domestic and agricultural work, while sons’ education are more valued. Early marriage or pregnancies often force young women to abandon their education. According to UNICEF one in ten menstruating girls skip school for 4 to 5 days out of every 28-day cycle. A study carried out by the Netherlands Development Association in seven districts in Uganda revealed that girls miss 10% of school days due to menstruation. About one-third of girls drop out of school between the ages of 10 - 14. The My Pads Program is a partnership with the Rakai District Education Department and local communities to empower adolescent girls and young women with knowledge of reproductive health and life skills. To date, 1700 girls and young women have participated. In addition to eight after-school sessions covering topics such as puberty, menstruation, HIV, sexually-transmitted infections, gender equality and power dynamics, we teach students to make their own set of reusable menstrual pads, addressing a major cause of school absenteeism. This year, thanks to funding from the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, we will expand this program to 16 secondary schools serving 2400 adolescent girls and young women. We will refurbish water and sanitation facilities at these schools so that our students have safe and secure changing rooms and clean water to ensure good hygiene. Our program includes a social enterprise component. We will recruit local seamstresses to train young women to make reusable pads that can generate income and address the lack of affordable menstrual hygiene products for rural women.

Since 2003, Brick by Brick has been partnering with local communities to improve education, health and economic opportunity. Our programs focus on the health and well being of girls and women. We are fortunate to have many dedicated women on our staff, leading our efforts.  You can become a partner with them in our work by clicking: GET INVOLVED


                              Recently Completed Glow Effect Community Center

                              Recently Completed Glow Effect Community Center

Brick by Brick Construction Company is a social enterprise that is promoting environmentally sustainable technology in small-scale construction in Uganda. We recently completed two significant projects that will directly benefit local communities. Glow Effect, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower women globally. This new community center in the Masaka District promotes the mission, with its bright colors that truly glow in Uganda's perpetual sunshine.  We have also built a beautiful new library in Katunguru, in Western Uganda in the Rift Valley. This project, funded by Peace Corp volunteer, Robert Hahn, and his network of generous friends and family, will allow thousands of children to read and learn for years to come. Both of these projects were completed by the fourteen dedicated and skilled masons that are the heart and soul of Brick by Brick Construction Company.


                                    Newly Constructed Katunguru School Library

                                    Newly Constructed Katunguru School Library


As we begin a new year Brick by Brick embarks on an ambitious agenda, broadening our partnerships with communities in the Rakai District of Uganda. Over the past five years, thanks to your support we are have dramatically expanded our three program initiatives and our social enterprise, Brick by Brick Construction Company.  In 2012, we had just one fulltime staff person working in Uganda, by the end of this year; we will employ 30 staff between Brick by Brick Uganda and our construction company. Here is what we are planning for the next eleven months



In July, Brick by Brick Uganda was awarded significant funding by the U.S. State Department through its DREAMS Innovation Challenge Grant. DREAMS is an ambitious partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. DREAMS is responding to the alarming fact that, every year, 390,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV— 7,300 every week, more than 1,000 every day. The 10 DREAMS countries account for nearly half of all the new HIV infections that occurred among adolescent girls and young women globally in 2014. Brick by Brick Uganda was one of 54 organizations chosen to receive funding through the Innovation Challenge.

Brick by Brick will use this funding to expand its successful My Pads Program to 16 secondary schools in the Rakai District. The My Pads Program is a 9-session extra-curricular education program for girls and young women on reproductive and sexual health, healthy life choices and women's empowerment. Last week, three of our senior staff, Program Director Alice Male, My Pads Coordinator Suzan Kyambadde and Finance and Administration Manager Prossy Nakayiba, traveled to Nairobi for the DREAMS Innovation Challenge launch. There our team learned much about the DREAMS Program, its goals and the expectations of its implementing partners. We met representatives of other NGOs working in Uganda who we hope to partner with. For Suzan and Prossy, it was there first trip out of Uganda on a plane. To say the least, excitement was the order of the day!

My Pads Program Coordinator Suzan Kyambadde

This month, we have begun the process of hiring new staff to begin to implement the DREAMS Program in February of 2017!


Brick by Brick Uganda School Program Coordinator Max Ssenyonga


Max Ssenyoga is a Mzee. (Pronounced Muzay) In Buganda, the major tribal community of central Uganda where we do most of our work, a Mzee is a trusted elder. Max began his work with Brick by Brick as a community volunteer in 2010. He is a man of Rakai, born and raised in Kalisizo, where Brick by Brick began back in 2003. Max befriended our young Peace Corp volunteer, Jonathan Blanchard, who had an idea about creating a social enterprise, a construction company utilizing Interlocking Stablized Soil Bricks (ISSBs) that help preserve forests and wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa. In time, Max became our first full-time Program Coordinator, helping us to successfully expand our School Program and making Brick by Brick Construction, a profitable social-enterprise with 14 employees. Even when traveling to the most remote villages in the Rakai District, there seems to be not a soul who does not know our Mzee. So when you need the support of a local village chief, or a partner in the district government, there is no one you would rather have at your side than Max!

Several weeks ago Max was in the office working on a report on our recently completed construction projects at three primary schools. Collaboration is a part of Brick by Brick’s culture so for Max to request the assistance of our intern James was not unusual, but the fact that Max was half-crawling across the room to ask his question certainly was! Max and our staff immediately recognized that he was having a stroke. Of course, a stroke is a life-threatening emergency anywhere in the world but even more so in our region of Uganda.

Our staff immediately responded to get Max to one of the best hospitals in Uganda, Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, the capital city. By the time they arrived in the hospital it was very late on a Friday night. James and our driver Aklam Kalule, stayed by Max’s side until his very high blood pressure was stabilized and he was resting comfortably. From the time that Max’s condition was recognized until he was out of danger, our entire staff worked together to ensure that Max was getting the best care possible. The three physicians on our staff, Executive Director, Dr. Dan Murokora, BAMA Clinical Director Dr Eleanor Nakintu and myself, were all in communication to ensure that everything that could be done was being performed in a timely and correct manner. A job well done!

Max is now recovering at home, engaged in a vigorous schedule of physical and occupational therapy. Despite persistent weakness on his left side that has slowed him down a bit, his only complaint is that he can’t return to his job. On a recent visit with Max at his home in Kalisizo, we reminisced on how far we have come since 2010. “Max, can you imagine, just seven years ago, you were our only paid employee.” Max had a wide smile on his face as he said, “I am so happy for all we have accomplished and I am so grateful for my life with Brick by Brick.”

As I sat with Max and his wife Teddy over a traditional Ugandan lunch, I thought of how grateful we all our to have Max with us. How much we all appreciate the many staff who pulled together to support Max. They say “it takes a village to save a child” and this month it took the entire Brick by Brick team to save a life and to show our love and appreciation for our Mzee.

Warmest regards and as always we thank you for your support,


Max with Brick by Brick Intern James Murduca and family


For more information on how you can partner with Brick by Brick e-mail: marcsklar@brickbybrick.org

And please share this great news on social media by clicking below:

Brick by Brick Uganda Seeking A Community Health Educator

Brick by Brick-Uganda is a growing and innovative bi-national organization that has been operating in Rakai District since 2003. Our main office is in Masaka Town. Our Mission is to create partnerships that improve education, health and economic opportunity in the communities we serve. We have been working with rural communities; rebuilding crumbling Universal Primary Education schools, identifying critical needs in water, sanitation and health delivery and developing a cooperative work plan addressing these problems. Brick by Brick recently received a two-year grant funded by the U.S. State Department to expand the My Pads Program to 16 secondary schools in the Rakai District, serving 2400 students. The My Pads Program aims at empowering young adolescents with reproductive health knowledge and life skills while addressing gaps in access to menstrual hygiene products. Job title: Community Health Educator

Reports to: My Pads Program Coordinator

Role Definition: To provide overall assessment, training and implementation of the My Pads Program. In collaboration with our M&E Officer, assist in monitoring and evaluation of the My Pads Program and most especially under the DREAMS Innovation Challenge Grant implemented by Brick by Brick Uganda.

Location: Masaka & Rakai Districts

Salary: Commensurate with experience

Contract Duration: Two-year contract reviewed annually.

Main Job Tasks and Responsibilities:

  • Support the development and periodic review of the program plan and budget.
  • Plan, assess and select schools to participate in the DREAMS Program.
  • Conduct training of trainers activities for teachers and peer educators.
  • Coordinate with local teachers and peer educators in the implementation of the My Pads educational program.
  • Collect, compile data and make reports in regard to My DREAMS Program.
  • Receive and orient program partners at the implementing sites.
  • Attend weekly program and stakeholder meetings.
  • Requisition and account for activity funds.
  • Prepare and submit monthly, quarterly and annual program reports.

Technical Training/Health Education Skills and Qualifications

Diploma in Midwifery, Public Health or social work & administration, or equivalent. Bachelor’s Degree preferred. At least 5-10 years experience in Community Health, experience in Reproductive Health Education preferred. Must have very strong presentation, communication and interpersonal skills. Must be Youth-Friendly in your approach. Must be competent in MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Fluency in spoken and written Luganda and English required. Fluency in other Western local languages, a plus. Work experience in Uganda, especially working in up-country stations preferred.



Brick by Brick Uganda Seeking A Monitoring and Evaluation Manager

Brick by Brick -Uganda is a growing and innovative bi-national organization that has been operating in Rakai District since 2003. Our main office is in Masaka Town. Our Mission is to create partnerships that improve education, health and economic opportunity in the communities we serve. We have been working with rural communities; rebuilding crumbling Universal Primary Education schools, identifying critical needs in water, sanitation and health delivery and developing a cooperative work plan addressing these problems. Job title: Monitoring and Evaluation Manager

Reports to: Brick by Brick- Uganda Program Director

Role Definition: To develop a monitoring and evaluation Framework for Brick by Brick - Uganda programs and provide timely and relevant information to Brick by Brick - Uganda stakeholders in line with Brick by Brick - Uganda strategic objectives.

Location: Masaka & Rakai Districts

Salary: Commensurate with experience

Contract Duration: Two-year contract reviewed annually.

Main Job Tasks and Responsibilities:

  • Work closely with key personnel and manage M&E staff and ensure the strategic and functional integration of all M&E activities as well as active collaboration with donors, other implementers, and local counterparts.
  • Coordinate all M&E activities, provide technical direction and support and ensure staff work towards generating results for respective programs.
  • Develop and implement M&E policy, tools, systems and procedures to improve ability to collect, interpret and aggregate data that demonstrate impact and program accountability
  • Develop and support the design and implementation of baseline, midterm and end of project evaluations, surveys and other components of the M&E system.
  • Develop high quality quantitative and qualitative methods and participatory methodologies to monitor program quality for performance and results.
  • Provide strategic high level feedback, analysis and interpretation during and throughout proposal development process, support development and review of Results Frameworks, M&E Plans and other M&E documents and procedures.
  • Develop program targets, ensure the consistency of tools and indicators across all programs as appropriate, maintain a database of key program indicators, support program staff to incorporate participatory methods into community level M&E systems and tools.
  • Work with senior management to identify and pursue strategic opportunities for program development
  • Identify capacity gaps and work with the Program Director to build the capacity of BbB - Uganda M&E program staff and partners to ensure smooth implementation program activities.
  • Prepare documents for internal and external auditing of programs
  • Participate and lead in the compilation and production of reports of respective programs in line with donor and partner reporting requirements.
  • Establish mechanism, forum and standard procedures for communication and dissemination of compiled reports to respective stakeholders including staff of BbB - Uganda and partner organizations.
  • Document and constantly update best practices, success stories, and lessons learned throughout programs life.

Learning and Sharing:

  • Promote a learning culture within BbB - Uganda, lead the process of sharing lessons learned from M&E process with staff.
  • Organize learning events and workshops for BbB - Uganda staff and partners to document lessons learned, good practices and areas of improvement;
  • Support lessons learned, best practices, program data, evaluations, and other information to generate donor communication pieces, proposal annexes, success stories, case studies, and other high-quality, results-based documentation
  • Support learning-to-action events and reflection sessions to systematically analyze data for programmatic use, and to document and incorporate lessons learned into program design and implementation
  • Ensure that M&E and program teams regularly review and accordingly adjust M&E plans and tools in light of changes and needs in the field context based on monitoring data and reflection sessions

Skills and Qualifications:

Degree in Biostatistics or Statistics is a must, a Masters degree in Public Health or post graduate in Monitoring and Evaluation is an added advantage. At least 3-5 years working experience with M&E systems of PEPFAR, DFID and USAID funded health projects. Ability to produce high quality reports. Experience in qualitative research is a plus. Ability to design M&E tools, surveys and surveillance systems. Demonstrated ability to train and build capacity of others. Strong leadership and interpersonal, communication and presentation skills required. Must be fluent both in spoken and written Luganda and English. Work experience in Uganda, especially working in up-country stations preferred.

Brick by Brick-Uganda is an equal opportunities and corruption intolerant employer. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.


Ugandan children carrying water


The problem?

In Uganda, like most of sub-Saharan Africa, women and children's days often begin with the drudgery that is fetching water. Before starting the mile long walk to school, Frances is up before sunrise carrying a 20-liter jerry can weighing 44 pounds on her head, gathering water for her family. Before Brick by Brick partnered with her primary school, she would arrive with her classmates, and be sent off again to fetch water for the school. Day after day, year after year, precious class time is lost due to the lack of access to clean water. Sub-saharan Africans spend about 40 billion hours per year collecting water. That's equal to the work performed by the entire nation of France! This burden, which is carried disproportionately by women and girls, is more than a waste of time. While walking miles on remote rural paths to collect water, women and girls are especially vulnerable to rape and other acts of sexual harassment and violence.

Every year 1.6 million people die around the world due to diarrheal illness. In the time it will take you to read this newsletter 12 human beings, mostly children will have died, not from some mysterious or hard to treat disease but simply due to the lack of access to clean and safe water and sanitation. 1.1 billion people and over half the world's primary schools around the world lack this access. How is it possible that this problem has gone unsolved year after year, decade after decade, not for the lack of a solution but rather that of political will and smartly invested resources.

Brick by Brick is determined to be a part of the solution.

Since we began our work in 2004 in the Rakai District of Uganda, we have been focused on providing access to safe and clean water to our partnering communities. In everyone of the six universal primary schools that we have rebuilt we have constructed rainwater harvesting systems that ensure adequate clean water for all students and teachers. In partnership with the Peace Corp and other Ugandan NGOs, our social enterprise, Brick by Brick Construction Company has built over 90 such systems throughout Uganda, providing clean water for 100,000 people throughout the country. A 30,000 liter rainwater harvesting tank, which can provide adequate water for a school community costs $2,000. Now the good news.... if well maintained our rainwater tanks have a life span of 30 years or more, that's 18 cents per day to provide water for 500 students! 

What can you do to guarantee clean water as a human right?

Over 12 million people in Uganda lack access to clean, safe water, so we still have a way to go. Brick by Brick is nothing without our powerful partners both in Uganda and here in the U.S. So here are a few ideas:

  • Throw a Water Party Fundraiser with a goal of raising enough money for Brick by Brick to build a rainwater harvesting tank. You can save money by serving clean, cold water as your beverage of choice!
  • Start a Crowd Sourcing project to provide clean water for an entire school of 500 students. We can provide pictures and great stories to get you started.
  • You can partner with us in ensuring access to clean water for all children by clicking DONATE

Frances draws clean water from a Brick by Brick rainwater harvesting tank

For more information on how you can partner with Brick by Brick e-mail us at: marcsklar@brickbybrick.org

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Alice Male, Program Director Brick by Brick Uganda


Since its founding in 2004, Brick by Brick has always depended on a small core of dedicated Ugandan staff and American volunteers. We have experienced extraordinary growth over the past six years. From a single paid staff person in 2011 we now have 10 full time employees working for Brick by Brick Uganda, and an additional 14 skilled staff employed with our social enterprise, Brick by Brick Construction Company.

With this rapid growth has come the need to build and strengthen the capacity of our organization in terms of program management, monitoring and evaluation, ensuring that all of our programs are well directed and that every dollar spent is invested wisely. A key part of our long term strategy is to rely on the knowledge and experience of our Ugandan staff. In the hiring of Alice Male as our new Program Director, we have taken a significant step in ensuring strong leadership for Brick by Brick Uganda, now and in the future. Here's what Alice has to say about this new opportunity:

What excites you most about the opportunity of becoming Brick By Brick's first Ugandan Program Director?

"By deciding this is the right time to have a Ugandan as a Program Director, the organization has shown it has trust and confidence in the abilities of Ugandans to effectively manage and expand our organization.... Brick By Brick is a prominent organization in this part of my country, Uganda. It has a good reputation and proven record of delivering development initiatives that are both locally appropriate and sustainable. I therefore consider it a great honor to head its programs. I am representing Ugandans at this realm of directorship - a call I find a great personal achievement. This opportunity gives me the platform to bring the Ugandan perspective to program development and management. It also offers me the opportunity to showcase what Ugandans have and can offer in the overall program development sphere. Like any other Ugandan, I bring on board the national's perspective and understanding of development challenges that can lead the way to birth solutions that are not only relevant, locally appropriate but also sustainable."

Where do I see Brick By Brick Uganda 5 years from now?

"I see Brick By Brick implementing programs that are:

  • Wider – expanded geographical coverage, reaching a diverse category of beneficiaries in large numbers
  • Deeper – implementing high-impact projects, tackling deep-rooted underlying development issues
  • Diversified – expanded range of interventions to include thematic areas new to the organization

I envision Brick by Brick Uganda as a national, strong and solid organization of experienced professionals that successfully delivers on its promises and commitments, meeting or exceeding project goals. We will be known as a lead organization championing staff career development, personal growth and development achieving this through a model  of mentorship, coaching and supporting staff to achieve their dreams as they commit their time, resources and efforts in working for and with disadvantaged, marginalized and oppressed communities. We will become the organization of choice for prospective donor organizations and development agencies looking for credible local organizations to partner with for emergency relief and development programs. I can see Brick by Brick Uganda in the forefront of harnessing and developing new practical, innovative and sustainable development interventions that are scalable."

Tell us a few things about yourself and your family?

"I am 39 years old, married to a loving husband who owns his own construction company. Together we live just outside the capital city of Kampala with our two beautiful children Samantha, who is eight years old and Samuel who is five. A Muganda by tribe, I grew up in a family of nine siblings, with five sisters and four brothers. I was born and raised in Kitetiika village located eight miles from Kampala. My late dad’s passion was to educate all his kids at a time when girl-child education wasn’t a priority in Uganda. This however, did not deter him since he took us to some of the best schools around Kampala; a move that paid off in the long run. Today two of my sisters are lawyers; one brother is a doctor, 3 of my siblings are teachers, 2 social workers and myself a  Public Health professional."

We are all very excited about having Alice join the Brick by Brick team. Thank you Alice, for your commitment to the communities that we serve together.

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My Pads Program Coordinator Suzan Kyambadde teaches students to make reusable menstrual pads


When Brick by Brick Uganda Finance and Administration Manager, Prossy Nakayiba wrote an e-mail to our Executive Director about the DREAMS Program it was on the evening of Good Friday.

"When is the deadline?" Marc asked.

"Tuesday, but I think we can do it!" Prossy responded.

For the next four days, including Easter Sunday we worked to get our 'Expression of Interest" submitted. Two months later we learned we were selected as a finalist. We then put together an international team, led by Ugandan grant writer, Margaret Namugamba, and for two weeks we researched and wrote a first class proposal. Two weeks ago, we received the news that we were one of 56 organizations awarded significant funding that will allow us to scale up the My Pads Program to reach 2400 students over the next two years. The DREAMS Program is a US Government led initiative in 10 sub-Saharan countries the goal of which is to reduce HIV incidence in women age 15-24 by 40% over a two year period. The My Pads Program is an innovative educational program that empowers young women with vital knowledge and life skills that can reduce their risk of HIV infection, unwanted pregnancies and dropping out of school.

According to UNICEF one in ten menstruating girls skips school for 4-5 days out of every 28 day cycle or drops out completely. That degree of absenteeism means means losing 13 learning days or 2 weeks, 104 hours of school every term. About 23% of adolescents between ages of 12-18 drop out after they begin menstruating. A study carried out by the Netherlands Development Association in seven districts in Uganda revealed that girls miss 10% of school days due to menstruation. “Girls with even primary level education are two times less likely to have had sex, while girls with secondary education are 3 times less likely.” About one-third of girls drop out of school between the ages of 10-14. Therefore an important part of any strategy to reduce the risk of HIV infection is to intervene early to keep girls in school and address any and all impediments to regular school attendance.

In a survey completed by Brick by Brick Uganda in 2012 among 139 girls in three UPE schools in the Rakai District, 78% reported using dirty old clothes or rags during menstruation. 88% said that they would not purchase Afripads (a locally manufactured hygiene product) at a cost of 12,000 UGX, 92% said they would be interested in making their own reusable pads at a cost of 2500 UGX. 34% reported missing days of school due to their menstrual periods at an average of 3.3 days per month. 23% told us that menses negatively affected their studies. We found profound lack of knowledge in basic reproductive health, with 96% of the respondents reporting they were eager to learn more.

In response to these findings, Brick by Brick Uganda launched the My Pads Program, an 8-week co-educational after school program focusing on reproductive and sexual health, gender equality and the promotion of healthy life choices. This program culminates in the fabrication by the students of a set of four reusable menstrual pads. To date this program has been implemented for 1000 students in the Rakai District, consistently demonstrating a 2-3 fold increase in knowledge regarding reproductive health. In 2015, we expanded this program to include a Training of Trainers component. This three-day workshop has been delivered in ten schools throughout Uganda with a plan to monitor program implementation in 2016 as well as expand this TOT program to additional Peace Corp Uganda schools.

Thanks to the initiative shown by Prossy, we will now be able to expand this program to thousands of young women in our district. You can help us to reach even more students with the My Pads Program by clicking DONATE

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Brick by Brick Construction Company Masons - Photo by Jon Wallen When we started Brick by Brick Construction in January of 2011, our ambitions were very modest. At the time, our only program involved partnering with free Universal Primary Education Schools to rebuild crumbling classrooms, water and sanitation systems. So when Peace Corp volunteer Jonathan Blanchard and local community leader Max Ssenyonga presented the idea of creating a small construction company utilizing an innovative and environmentally sustainable technology to make bricks (Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks), it seemed like a good fit.

Five and a half years later, we have gone farther than we could have imagined in those early days. We have completed 90 construction projects throughout Uganda. Our rainwater harvesting systems are now providing clean, safe drinking water for approximately 100,000 people. While we are all very proud that we have been a profitable enterprise in each of our first five years of operation, the financial bottom line does not really tell the whole story. From the beginning, we have been committed to creating a new model for business that sees social enterprise as a catalyst to improving the health and economic wellbeing of our communities. Our mason staff has been steadily employed for the past four years. We have established a profit-sharing plan, distributing 15% of net profits to our highly skilled workers. We meet regularly with our employees, who have significant input into our company policies. As we have implemented new quality assurance systems, our masons have provided valuable input to ensure success and full partnership.

In the past several months we have expanded our product services beyond the construction of houses, schools, water and sanitation systems. While our masons often lack higher education, we are blessed with a highly skilled and intelligent staff, with real world experience not taught in a traditional classroom. Last month, we facilitated a highly successful weeklong training in solar systems installation attended by our masons and construction management team. This month we will install our first solar system at the Kirumba Primary School, providing electricity to this school of 500 students for the first time.

Late last year I attended a staff meeting with our skilled masons. Profit-sharing distributions were on the agenda but before discussing this I asked our masons a question.

“In a typical business, who keeps the profits?”

All were in agreement and answered almost in unison, “The owners.”

“So, who gets the profits from Brick by Brick Construction?”

“ The profits go back to the community to build schools and water tanks.”

“And where do the rest of the profits go?”

There was a minute of silence before our Chief Mason Sunday Kimera stood and said, “They go to us, the masons.”

“So, who owns Brick by Brick Construction Company?”

The 12 assembled masons began to laugh with recognition of their newly discovered ownership, “We do!”

Brick by Brick Construction Company is forging a new path for social enterprise in Uganda. We have much to learn. This year we began to implement a marketing plan, with the first of our radio ads hitting the airways. Building a successful construction business is not easy and its not without its pitfalls, but if our 13 years working in Uganda has taught us anything is that persistence combined with a willingness to learn from our mistakes pays off in the end, and not just in terms of money but in improving the lives of our employees and the communities we serve.

The Power of the Sun

Brick by Brick Construction Company Staff at Solar Energy Training Brick by Brick Construction Company is a social-enterprise committed to the "Triple Bottom Line", People, Planet and Profit. So it should not come as a surprise when we decided to expand our services to include the instillation of solar energy systems. Facilitated by our newest intern Elie Bou-Gharios, a third-year student at the McGill University Faculty of Engineering, our mason and senior engineering staff participated in a week long training led by staff of the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC). This is an organization, founded in 2001 and affiliated with Makerere University College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, whose mission is “To enhance access to modern types of energy through research, training and consultancy in East-Africa.”

The training was attended by ten of our skilled mason staff, as well as by our Construction Manager David Mutesaasira, and Engineering Intern James Murduca. Our staff worked along side the CREEC Trainers and learned the basic theory behind solar energy systems appropriate for our communities, as well as the skills needed to install these systems for homes, schools, health centers, etc. Our mason and senior staff worked side by side since we were all beginners when it came to acquiring this new knowledge and skill. The training was a complete success and we have already begun planning our first solar project. installing a solar energy system for Kirumba Primary School!

Engineering Intern James Murduca, Senior Mason Charles Kabagabo, Construction Manager David Mutesaasira


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For our first E-newsletter we are focusing on our most ambitious program to date, our:

Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program.

Every year 6,000 mothers and 34,000 newborns die needlessly in Uganda from complications that are easily treated in the U.S and elsewhere. Why are so many women and babies dying in Uganda and throughout the developing world? We know that the majority of these deaths can be prevented by addressing each of 3-Delays:

  • Delay in seeking care
  • Delay in reaching care
  • Delay in receiving care

Women living in rural communities often lack the knowledge of when to begin to seek maternal health care services. Gender inequality robs many women of the power to make this life saving decision. Once a woman in labor chooses to seek care at a health facility she often faces tremendous challenges due to poor transportation systems, roads and lack of funds. The final insult is that once a woman reaches a hospital she often finds providers who lack the knowledge and skills needed to handle even the most common of obstetric complications, shortages of life saving medications, surgical equipment or the facility to provide blood transfusions.

Access to quality maternal and newborn care is a human right. After completing a needs assessment of the 24 health centers and hospitals in the Rakai District, in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, we have begun a training and mentoring program for doctors, nurses and midwives to dramatically reduce maternal and newborn mortality in our district. We go beyond improving the knowledge and skills of providers and work to strengthen the management of health facilities to ensure that improvements are sustainable over time.

In the coming months we will provide updates, photos and personal stories documenting both our successes and challenges. Please watch the deeply moving video below that tells the story of why our mothers, sisters and daughters are dying and what we can do to avert this on-going tragedy.

Thank you for all your support that makes our work possible. If you would like to find out more about our work, please e-mail me with any questions or feedback at marcsklar@brickbybrick.org

To help us expand our impact click here to help keep, Babies and Mothers Alive
Why Did Mrs X Die

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.brickbybrick.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Extract-from-Why-Did-Mrs-X-Die-Retold-SD-1.mp4"][/video]

Brick by Brick Uganda Seeking Program Director

Brick by Brick Uganda is a small but innovative bi-national organization which has been operating in Rakai District since 2003. Our main offices are located in Masaka Town. Our Mission is to create partnerships that improve education, health and economic opportunity for the communities we serve. We have been working with rural communities rebuilding crumbling Universal Primary Education schools, identifying critical needs in water, sanitation and health delivery and developing a cooperative work plan addressing these problems. Brick by Brick Uganda is looking for a very creative, proactive, talented, experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic Program Director to be part of its team.

How to apply: Send your application by email to Jacqueline Kalembe at: jkalembe@outlook.com, with your CV, cover letter, attach certified copies of academic certificates with their receipts and details of three contactable referees by 20th May 2016. Please include in the subject line: Program Director. Applicants from Uganda are strongly preferred.

Please see the Job Description below:

Job Title: Brick by Brick Uganda Program Director

Reports To: Brick by Brick Uganda Executive Director and Brick by Brick Partners (USA) Executive Director

Role Definition: To provide for the management and oversight of all programs and projects implemented by Brick by Brick Uganda. To oversee the monitoring and evaluation of all programs and projects implemented by Brick by Brick Uganda.


  • In collaboration with the Program Directors/Coordinators of each program develop, update and monitor the progress of the respective program work plans.
  • In collaboration with the Program Directors/Coordinators of each program develop and approve budgets for each of Brick by Brick Uganda’s programs.
  • Develop agenda for weekly staff meeting to regularly monitor progress on program activities and coordinate staff schedules for the coming week.
  • Chair weekly staff meeting
  • In collaboration with Program Directors/Coordinators ensure implementation of program work plans and M&E plans
  • Provide oversight and support for Program Directors and Coordinators in fulfilling their program objectives and deliverables.
  • Review and provide feedback to Program Directors/Coordinators on quarterly program progress reports and ensure delivery of final report.
  • Prepare and deliver Brick by Brick Uganda quarterly program progress report (encompassing all programs) to Brick by Brick Uganda and Brick by Brick Partners Executive Directors
  • Attend weekly meeting with Brick by Brick Partners Executive Director to review status and progress of program activities and deliverables
  • Prepare and deliver annual report on Brick by Brick Uganda’s programs
  • Meet monthly with Brick by Brick Uganda Finance and Administration Manager to review program expenditures and budget.
  • In collaboration with Brick by Brick Uganda Finance and Administration Manager, Brick by Brick Partners Treasurer and Brick by Brick Partners Executive Director prepare annual budget for the fiscal year (Jan-Dec).
  • Lead interview committees for the hiring of new employees.
  • Orient and train new staff hires.
  • Prepare presentations and represent Brick by Brick Uganda at national, regional and international meetings as required.
  • Provide logistic support for and host national and international visitors to our Masaka and/or Kalisizo offices as well as program sites.
  • Provide logistic support for Brick by Brick Interns, both national and international as well as Peace Corp volunteers.
  • Coordinate regular postings on Brick by Brick social media platforms and Brick by Brick website blog
  • Attend Brick by Brick Uganda Board of Directors Annual Meeting and serve as recording secretary in order to maintain records
  • Submit minutes of above meeting within ten working days to the Brick by Brick Uganda and Brick by Brick Partners Executive Directors

Other duties:

  • Network with potential community and national stakeholders on as needed basis.
  • Meet with potential organizational partners when delegated by the Executive Director.
  • Assist in organizational fundraising duties and/or grant writing as delegated by the Executive Director.
  • The Program Manager may be assigned to perform duties at any time for Brick by Brick Uganda not specified in this job description but relevant for the development of Brick by Brick Uganda and meeting its mission, vision and objectives. The position of program coordinator requires flexibility to assume required tasks as needed.
  • As a representative of the organization, the Program Manager will be expected to conduct him/herself in an exemplary fashion. All duties must be in accord with the Brick by Brick Uganda Code of Conduct and performed in an ethical and forthright manner as expected of a Ugandan professional.

Key Qualifications and Work Experience:

  • Bachelors Degree in Development Studies, Social Sciences, Social Work, Social Administration, Business Administration (Majoring in Management) or equivalent, Masters Degree preferred.
  • At least 5 years’ experience in program management.
  • At least 1 years’ experience in engaging with district stakeholders.
  • Ability to manage a diverse, multicultural team, international team.
  • Work experience in Uganda preferred.
  • Must have strong decision making abilities especially in crisis under pressure.
  • Strong communication skills and interpersonal skills.
  • Must be fluent both in spoken and written in Luganda and English. Fluency in other Ugandan local languages is a plus.
  • Must be proficient in the use of various project management computer applications , as well as Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Skype.
  • Must have strong speaking and presentation skills.
  • Experience in working with upcountry stations.

Brick by Brick-Uganda is an equal opportunities and corruption intolerant employer. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

BAMA Program Opens New Offices In Kalisizo

The Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program is a partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health to improve the quality of Maternal and Newborn Health in the Rakai District. To date, we have preformed a needs assessment in the 24 public Health Centers and hospitals that deliver care to mothers and their babies. In this comprehensive report, critical gaps in care were identified. In the coming months, we will begin training and mentoring activities for health providers in our district, as well as capacity-building in health management. Opening our program offices in Kalisizo, close to the people we serve, will allow us to build strong partnerships with local communities and the Ugandan Government. BAMA Staff at Our New Offices in Kalisizo

Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program Strives to Improve Health Facility Management

BAMA Logistics Management Training in Kyotera Every year 7,000 women die in Uganda due to complications of pregnancy; almost all of these deaths are preventable. After performing a Needs Assessment at the 24 Health Centers that provide maternal and newborn care in the Rakai District, Brick by Brick Uganda has launched the Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program. The goal of this program is to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in the district through training and mentoring of heath care providers and institutional capacity building. Last week, we began our work by holding a 2-day training in Logistics Management for staff from each of the district's health centers.

Providing Educational Opportunity for Prisoners in Uganda: A New Partnership

Brick by Brick Construction staff met with Professor Arthur Sserwanga PhD and his team to discuss an exciting new project to build classrooms for prisoners at Masaka Prison. Professor Sserwanga is the Vice Chancellor of Muteesa Royal University here in Masaka and has a long track record of successfully advocating and delivering effective prison reform in Uganda. Partnering with Professor Sserwanga was recent Pitzer College graduate Ashton Hoselton, who has a background in prison education programs in the U.S. Brick by Brick Construction will be building adequate classroom space for the Masaka Prison so that essential educational and vocational programs can begin. In addition, we will be providing training and income generating construction jobs to the prisoners who will fully participate in this project. The prisoners will soon become students in classrooms they have helped build themselves. Ugandan prisoners at Masaka Prison have no classrooms in which to learn.