Andrea Kazindra leans back thoughtfully and rubs her belly. Due any day with her second child, she and her husband Haril chat excitedly about all things baby, they have traveled from their home in Uganda to deliver.

Her young family isn’t the only thing growing these days: Andrea is one of the co-founders of Musana Community Development Organization, an NGO based in Iganga, Uganda. Andrea was just a senior at CU when she traveled to Uganda with her sister, Leah, to study microfinance over ten years ago. 

“I thought I would be there for three months,” she smiles. “I honestly had no idea the direction my life was about to take.” 

While visiting Iganga, the girls witnessed a nightmare: an abusive orphanage, housing 160 children in just one room. 

The Coloradans brought the abuse to the attention of the local government, eventually being granted custody of eighty of the children. Overnight, Musana Children’s Home was born. At the new orphanage, the children received food and healthcare but also genuine interaction and love — many for the first time. 

As the original three months came and went, Andrea, settled for good in Uganda and met Haril. The two fell in love. It would seem like the perfect happy ending to Musana’s story.

But the leaders at Musana quickly realized that another orphanage was not a solution, but actually a part of the problem. 

“We wanted to address the root causes of vulnerability within our community.” Haril says, “A lot of Ugandans suffer from what we call ‘dependency syndrome.’ People feel that they need help from rich foreigners to survive. Orphanages perpetuate this type of thinking. We want Ugandans to have ownership and vision for their own lives.” 

And so the team at Musana began the task of community development, targeting three key areas of vulnerability in Iganga: education, healthcare, and vocational training.

The first project was a Primary School. The school not only provides education to hundreds of children, but it also employs about 200 Ugandans on staff. 

“At a school, you might empower several hundred children,” explains Andrea. “But when you employ Ugandans as their teachers, each with their own families at home, you impact hundreds more.” 

Musana’s innovative and entrepreneurial approach also seeks to empower the vulnerable women of Iganga, who have access to vocational training and business support through their programs. 

“We teach them skills like baking, tailoring, and embroidery, but we also expose them to local businesses led by strong women. We want them to see what is possible!” Andrea adds. 

And last but not least, Musana recently was able to build a Community Health Center with two main objectives: affordability and compassion. Currently, the hospital treated thousands of patients per month and was able to add an inpatient wing with 70 beds. If all these projects seem astounding, consider this: Musana’s goal is to be self-sustaining, generating 100% of their operating budget through locally generated funds and enterprises. Currently, they are about 90% of the way there. 

Andrea says they are now partnering with other NGOs to teach their holistic approach, last year consulting with no less than 30 organizations. From their beginnings as a small orphanage helping a handful of children, to a community changer empowering local men and women to “be the change,” one thing seems certain: Musana will never stop growing, adapting, and learning how to best serve their community. 

“I think Andrea’s ability to listen has been a gift to Musana,” smiles Haril. “Now we will be able to share all we have learned.” 

“At a school, you might empower several hundred children,” explains Andrea. “But when you employ Ugandans as their teachers, each with their own families at home, you impact hundreds more.”