My experience with the Mandela Washington Fellowship LINC grant 2021

Early this year (2021), set myself an ambitious plan, they call them New Year Resolutions. Professionally, one the key things I wanted to do was to write and publish – in newspapers, journals, and of course on my blog.

In April 28, my first newspaper article was published, with the title; “E-learning is here to stay, embrace it,” on the Daily Monitor newspaper. Between April and June, four more articles were published. Concerning the Journal article, I am still writing that, and hopefully, will have it published before end of this year.

The other thing I set out to do was to apply for grants. As an alumnus of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, I knew that I am eligible to many grants that are usually ringfenced for the alumni to implement community projects. Besides, I have received grants before, for implementing tech projects.

In February, I applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship LINC (Leveraging Innovations in New Communities) grant, together with Zaharah Namanda.

I, and Zaharah are both 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows. I attended my fellowship institute at the University of Delaware, Newark, while Zaharah was at Kansas State University. Interestingly, both of us were in the Civic Engagement Institute, usually meant for activists. Additionally, both me and Zaharah were working in the education sector-Zaharah head Africa ELI, and for me, an award-winning teacher at Lira Town College.

It was therefore a matter of time before we collaborated. In February, after seeing a post calling for applications for LINC grant, I suggested to her that we should collaborate, and her response was positive. We were able to put together a project, “Virtual E-Learning Workshop and Collaboration”, with me as the Team Lead and Zaharah as Collaborator.

Part of the project write-up is here: “ Emmanuel Angoda& Zaharah Namanda, both of whom are 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni will organize an online  workshop on the theme, “Education as a Humanitarian Response: Using eLearning to Accelerate Learning in the Covid-19 Era.” This virtual event will bring together headteachers, teachers, students and other educators from Kampala & Lira Virtually, and will highlight the importance of education amidst this Covid-19 pandemic.”

In total, we requested for grant of USD 2680 and gladly, it was accepted (USD 1,340 each).

I want to share my experience with the MWF LINC grant, and below are my views.

Applying for the grant: I must state here that applying for MWF LINC grant has been the easiest grant application I have come across. The most important thing here is the eligibility (for only alumni of Mandela Washington Fellowship). You submit only two files- workplan and budget. The concept in within the workplan, so everything is short. The period between application and approval was almost 3 months, it takes one more month to receive funds.  

Getting the Collaborator: I was lucky that we were in talking terms with my fellow alumni, who accepted to be my collaborator. You have to make sure to agree on key aspects of the projects, such as finances, organizing & coordinating. Since our project was purely virtually, we mostly encountered tech-related issues.

Continuous Support: The Mandela Washing Fellowship team, and Irex are very supportive. Each email receives a prompt reply. Considering that a second national lockdown affected our project implementation, we were promptly given an extension of 1 month.

Project Implementation. The attendance of our virtual activities exceeded my expectations, both for the teachers and students’ workshop. I think we did a good job mobilizing participants. It is in last activity that we encountered numerous challenges. Also, because the project was being implemented in two locations, Lira and Kampala, it was hard work coordinating. Direct calls, and WhatsApp helped a lot.

Finally, I must say our collaboration has been very productive, and key deliverables & objectives have been fulfilled. This include development of an elearning platform, training of teachers and students on elearning & use of Moodle elearning platform, and online engagement of students to accelerate learning. Many participants still ask me when we are going to have another virtual workshop. Also, I got the opportunity to directly work with my collaborator, and her team. I want to thank Zaharah, Patrick, Dr. Peninah Beinomugisha, and Norah for the good work during this project. I also want to thank my Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher Joseph, Deputy Headteacher Rose, and my fellow teachers and accepting & embracing this project. Of course, I will not forget to thank all the students who attended the workshop & engaged in elearning, both from Lira Town College and Africa ELI. Most importantly, I would like to thank the Mandela Washington Fellowship LINC grant team for supporting our joint project, and enabling us impact our communities during this difficult Covid-19 times. I am happy to have accomplished this two things-writing and getting a LINC grant. And I will apply again next year.

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