Celebrating UVP’s 20th Anniversary: reflections from co-founder Alison Hayward

Twenty years ago, Uganda Village Project was born. When we were first getting started, we held onto a core belief that we would try to make a positive difference in the world. Despite a steep learning curve, we knew this much was critical: collaborative, community-centered partnerships were key to creating a sustainable initiative.

Our twenty year journey has been challenging and exciting – a winding path to creating the right set of impactful programs that our communities want and need. As a member of the faculty at the medical school of Brown University, I often have meetings with students just starting their journey. They often want to know how UVP was started, but most don’t ask how it has continued. Starting was easy; it’s the long haul that will test you profoundly.

I’ve held many roles at UVP (including Director, Treasurer, Board Chair, Internship Coordinator …) but I’m not the reason we have sustained. It’s the many people who have joined in, taken leadership roles and gone the distance to keep the flame burning.

UVP has been blessed to sustain our mission for two decades specifically because of our staff and board members, donors, interns, and volunteers who approach challenges head on with drive, passion and dedication. When you lose electricity or network connection or running water. When the maatatu has to get pushed up the hill or the boda boda gets stuck in the mud. When the hen lays an egg on your pillow or there is a giant spider on your dinner plate. When we had to make do because we hardly had enough to keep going; when we celebrated wildly at unexpected windfalls. Through times when we realized programs weren’t working at all and times we found the impact far more long-reaching than we had imagined. When we made connections and friends that will last a lifetime, and when we grieved for friends lost far too soon.

I’d like to take this special occasion to salute all of UVP’s past and present supporters, and cherish their commitments and personal sacrifices to help make a positive impact for others. Our twenty year anniversary has become a reality because of their resilience, hard work, and passion. Throughout this year, we will be sharing more stories and memories that led to this milestone. We hope you follow along and enjoy!

With deep gratitude,


Dedicated to Sujal Parikh – the kind of person who was not intimidated by doing hard things. A friend who will never stop inspiring me.