“The principle of self-reliance is fundamental to the happy life, but teaching self-reliance needs to be on a level commensurate with the capabilities of those we assist.”
— Marvin J. Ashton

Self-Reliance Through Education

Education is the key to a better life; in knowledge there is power.

In 2013 the United Nations described the unstable conditions and educational failures in Uganda as “the worst humanitarian crisis.” This is especially true in Northern Uganda where approx. 80% live in rural settings and over one third live below Uganda’s own poverty standards.

IFA provides a limited number of university-level scholarships to applicants who show qualities of exemplary stewardship and who, after exhausting all other resource possibilities, demonstrate genuine need.


“Education is not so much the filling of a pail as the lighting of a fire.”
—William Butler Yeats

(See “Understanding Africa” blog segment on Education in Uganda)

Self-Reliance Through Work

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
— Thomas Jefferson


After decades of war AND handouts from NGOs requiring no accountability or responsibility many Africans have lost their innate sense of dignity and self-sustaining independence.

When IFA! assists Africans with critical needs, they are also taught about stewardship, how to protect what they have and the importance of providing service to others within their communities.  IFA! teaches that no one walks out of poverty alone.  As Africans learn to serve and share, feelings of defeat, jealousy and worthlessness are swallowed up in a bond built on this stewardship empowering them to become more self-reliant.  Self-reliance always increases personal dignity.

There are significant numbers of men in Africa who are idle, relying on the women to do most of the work while they are with their cohorts playing cards or relaxing under a tree, but those with whom IFA! associates with are all hard workers.  Steve Lawoko’s work ethic reflects that of his close peers:

“During the long war my schooling was interrupted due to long distances and fee payment so I was selling sugar cane and jack fruits along streets, laying bricks in the village during dry season and digging during wet season. In primary six [equivalent to U.S. fifth grade] I started working at the bus park as a helper carrying water for washing buses in the daytime and  for the hotels in the evening. Surely at times I thought to quit as there seemed no hope paying for school.”  [Note:  In 1996, the government allowed free schooling for primary grades, but many people have no money for uniforms, supplies, or the exams during the year they must pay for].

IFA! only assists those who consistently demonstrate service in their community and a strong work ethic.

Making mud for bricks
Mud bricks drying in the sun
Preparing harvest to sell in the market
Distributing a sun dryer to a widow
Rather than providing toys from America, IFA! will assist them in making self-sustaining
items, such as transforming these empty oil cans into pull trucks for young boys.
Building their own fuel efficient Rocket Stoves

“Work is an antidote for anxiety, an ointment for sorrow, and a doorway to possibility.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Collins Odong (See “Their Story”) was hired to do prep work for service projects this summer. He used his earnings to buy a simple traditional bike.  This has allowed him to more efficiently transport his crops to market (2 ½ hour trip); Now he is working to start a piggery.  The piggery will help him save for his oxen.  The oxen will drastically increase his crop production.  Collins plans to work with his neighbors to help them become more productive as well. Not only will Collins and his neighbors become more SELF-RELIANT and experience greater DIGNITY, it will also increase their HEALTH as some of the heavy burdens of physical labor will be reduced.



Beatrice is a widow with six children.  Pam taught Beatrice how to sew tote bags, first by hand, and then using a treadle machine that was at a local meeting house..  She would go there often to make her bags.  She sold enough bags to “Mzungus” (“rich” white people living in the area) that she was able to purchase her own treadle machine and table. She believes families can be forever so she was also able to save enough money for a passport and other basics to travel with another widow friend to the closest temple in Johannesburg South Africa.

Beatrice now makes many styles of bags and uses the money to provide school fees for five of her children.  When donors SHOP in Elephant Ears Creations, they are helping her provide school fees for her children. She knows that knowledge will empower them so they can have a better life.


IFA! supports widows in Northern Uganda becoming more self-reliant through the purchase of their beautiful handmade beads made from recycled paper.  The beads are coated in a resin, making them durable and water resistant. The income generated from their sales provides school fees for their children and orphans.  We also purchase beads from Simon Ojok who makes them to pay for his living expenses while going to school in Kampala.