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Interview with Joseph Balisanyuka from SALEM-Uganda

05.10.2017

When Joseph Balisanyuka, Chairman of Salem Brotherhood Uganda Ltd. visited Stadtsteinach in summer 2017 we asked him some questions concerning his work and the situation in SALEM-Uganda.

Would you please introduce yourself and tell us in a few words when and how you came to SALEM-Uganda.

I am Joseph Balisanyuka, chairman board of Directors - SALEM-Uganda. I am also the Chief Administrative Officer, Soroti District, Eastern Uganda. I have been the chairman of the board since 1993. I remember in 1993 I was asked by my supervisor (boss) to go and represent him in a meeting at SALEM-Uganda in Kolonyi, Mbale. My boss was Mr. Charles Kabunga, the District Executive Secretary. I accepted and in the meeting in SALEM that day I was elected chairman of the board. Since that time (1993) to date I am the chairman and I have seen all of it happen since that time. I think it was God’s calling.

Which was your biggest challenge in this long period?

The biggest challenge in this long period has been the balancing of my job (daily work as Chief Administrative Officer) and chairman of the board. This is especially so where I have found myself being transferred to districts which are far from SALEM-Uganda. This means I had to work and also have the board work. However, despite the challenge of distance I have managed to execute my duties as the chairman of the board. I always find time for SALEM-Uganda.

Which is the most challenging problem right now in SALEM-Uganda, particularly in the children’s home?

The most challenging problem for SALEM-Uganda right now is the funding - getting money and other resources to run the children’s home and its related departments. The number of needy children keeps growing amidst dwindling resources. The organization mainly depends on donations from friends and well-wishers of SALEM.

What should be done to improve the situation on a long-term basis?

In the long run we need to focus on self-sustainability. SALEM-Uganda will have to invest in income generating activities like

  • improving the guest houses
  • expanding the craft shop
  • cultivating own food, e. g. maize, cassava, vegetables etc.
  • planting trees for timber and environment protection
  • solar energy (plenty of potential here), among others.

The “Fall Army Worm” is a very big problem for the crops around SALEM-Uganda. What can you tell us about this pest?

The Fall Army Worm is a disaster for Uganda and it must be controlled. In Uganda there was serious drought in 2016 up to April 2017. This affected crops and hunger set in. Many people starved and in some instances people died. When the rains began, people started cultivation by planting maize, been, vegetables etc. Then the army worm came from its hiding and devastated the crops. It attacks all plants but especially maize, sorghum, millet, beans, potatoes etc. This leads to plants dying or poor yields eventually will lead to more hunger creating a vicious circle of misery. Government has imported insecticides to deal with the worm and many farmers and peasants have accessed free of charge. As of now the situation is under control. There is also a lot of education of the farmers through the District Extension Services.

Why is it so important to raise, plant and protect trees?

Trees and plants are the backbone of the environment. Protected forests and grasslands create atmosphere for rain. The rain drains in swamps, rivers, lakes and sees to give us a stable supply of water. The rains keep the plants growing and support agriculture. Therefore to plant trees and protect them is essential for conserving the environment. The drought experienced in Uganda last year is mainly due to environmental degradation. This led to hunger. The army worm problem is partly caused by poor environment. The tree leaves dry the worms fall on the plants down and destroy them. We must protect the environment.

Why is SALEM so special, why should people support SALEM-Uganda?

SALEM is special because it gives hope to the children and other people who have no hope. The world over is filled with orphans, abandoned children and destitutes. Some of these scenarios are caused by humanity like endless wars while others are caused by natural disasters like landslides and diseases.

People should support SALEM-Uganda to enable it continue to give hope to vulnerable children and bring them up to be useful to society.

What is your biggest wish for the future of SALEM-Uganda?

My wish for SALEM-Uganda is to keep the candle burning - to continue supporting the needy children. I want to see it grow beyond its current status - establish branches all over Uganda to reach out to the many needy children out there.

SALEM-Uganda to become self-supporting through its own projects. Government also needs to come up to support institutions like SALEM-Uganda which help needy children.

Would you like to support SALEM-Uganda?

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