Back in 2007, Survivors Fund (SURF) assisted the UK Conservative Party to organise Project Umubano, a two-week international social action programme for party members to provide them with a unique first-hand experience of international development. Developed in 2007 by Andrew Mitchell MP, then Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, the first group of 50 volunteers undertook an array of projects, including the building of a community centre at Kinyinya, a village of orphan-headed households which SURF helped previously to establish.
Under the inspiration of the late, great Christopher Shale, a community project evolved, under which we first developed an Education into Employment programme, which continues to progress strongly. In recent years we have developed a capacity-building practicum, and an advocacy practicum,
This year’s Project Umubano is due to commence on Monday, and we have two groups that will be working with Survivors Fund (SURF) over the next two weeks.
The community team will be supporting an array of our partner organisations to develop project proposals to mark the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in April 2014. Through a practicum, the partner organisations will participate in training in various key disciplines critical to this work (including participatory research, stakeholder engagement and budgeting) and receive support from the Umubano volunteers to develop their proposals and then to competitively pitch them to a panel of dignitaries who will award a grant of up to £5,000 to one or more projects.
The business team will be working with fifty student survivors who have been shortlisted from a cohort of 150 students from AERG who have just completed a six month youth entrepreneurship training programme. The students will receive intensive coaching to enable them to develop and strengthen new business proposals which will be competitively pitched for funding to a dragon’s den at the conclusion of the project. This is the second iteration of this component of the project, and the four businesses which secured funding last year will receive additional coaching to enable them to accelerate their development.
We will report back here at the conclusion of the work in a fortnight, but regardless of the support that is delivered over that time, there will always be a lasting legacy of the project in the understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by international development within the UK Conservative Party.