Above, L to R: Freerk Molleman, Gosia Arlet, and Joel Hartter outside the Kigarama Community Library (click to enlarge).
I stayed in Uganda between 1999 and 2002 for Ph.D. research on primate behaviour in Kibale National Park. During these times I participated in the life of the local community, and I visited schools many times. In 2001, with a help of my friends — researchers from the biological field station as guides, like Kathi Pieta and Freerk, I organised a small nature education project in Kibale with a nearby primary school, taking children from P5-P7 for forest walks.
During my stay in Uganda in 2003, I had an opportunity to visit some schools around Kibale with a team from the Jane Goodall Institute. All of that made me more aware of the conditions that many children grow up in and, that I would like to assist them to have better chances for further education.
Presently, I am a post-doc at the University of California Davis (USA).
I did field-work as Ph.D. student on tropical butterflies in Kibale National Park in Uganda between February 2000 and December 2003, for in total 17 months. During this time I developed contact with the local community. I also participated in the nature education project in 2001.
In December 2003 I coordinated a small project to provide Kanyawara Primary School with some furniture and the idea of the foundation grew from talks for this project.
At present, I am working as a post-doc at UC Davis in the US, again on butterflies and with fieldwork at the same location in Uganda.
I first came to Uganda in 2005 and stayed from May into August conducting my preliminary dissertation research in 60 villages surrounding Kibale National Park. As a doctoral study in geography from the University of Florida, I am studying how the establishment of the Kibale NP has impacted the landscape and rural communities. During my stay, I fell in love with the area and most especially with the people. I met one of the field assistants working at Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) and he told me of the Kanyawara Community Library that was contained within his house. I soon visited his home and the library. Devoting nearly 20% of one’s living space within the home to a library is certainly a gracious offering. Shelves were there, but books filling these shelves were missing. From that moment, I pledged to support him in his efforts.
I returned in 2006 and met Freerk and Gosia. It was so wonderful to meet such energetic people with a heart of service. And so began our close relationship together. Since I was working in so many villages, Freerk and Gosia asked me if it was possible to open a library in the predominantly Bakiga communities near Bigodi town. With their help and with the help of many local volunteers, we successfully opened the fourth community library supported by the former Foundation for Children's Educatio in Uganda. Since that point, I continue to work closely with Freerk and Gosia as a member of the executive board.
If you would like more information or have questions, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or see what I’m up to at: www.clas.ufl.edu/users/jhartter. I look forward to hearing from you!