Jesse Coker

Jesse earned a degree in anthropology at the University of Rhode Island, and shortly thereafter joined the Peace Corps. He lived in Engari sub county, Uganda for two years, whilst working in economic development for Life Child Initiative (LICHI). His primary work focused on improving community access to clean water through construction of water tanks made with Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks (ISSB), as well as micro-finance groups known locally as Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). His secondary work involved teaching life skills at the primary schools and managing community gardens. Jesse now co-manages the Rhode Island Farm Incubator, a non-profit organic farmer training facility in southern Rhode Island. He seems to enjoy sea kayaking, gardening, and discovering the unknown.

John Mazza

John Mazza

John holds a Bachelors degree in Digital Art and Design from the University of Rhode Island, along with a Masters Degree in Media Studies from Rhode Island College. He currently works at Brown University as the Manager of Web and Media Production for the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. It is at the Watson Institute, as well as during his travels around the world, where John’s exposure to experts in global development projects and under-served communities led to a desire to get involved in a more meaningful way. So in 2017, when John visited Uganda with Jesse and Colleen – and met the other individuals who would later form the Joy of Community Foundation Team, he realized this was an opportunity to not only stay connected with a place and people he developed a deep appreciation for, but also to help facilitate positive change in their community. John currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and outside of traveling whenever he can, he stays active surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, playing basketball and practicing yoga.

Siera Carusone

Siera Carusone

Siera (furthest left) received a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Vermont. In 2018, she moved to Kigali, Rwanda to work for the University of Global Health Equity in curriculum and program development. Much of her work and academic research has focused on expanding opportunities for students with disabilities.She returned to the US to earn a Master’s in Comparative Human Development from the University of Chicago, although she has not stopped dreaming of the lush green and warm atmosphere of East Africa. Siera is now working to secure grant funding for Joy of Community Foundation and is excited to build new relationships with the people of Engari. Currently living in New Jersey, Siera spends her free time writing poetry, enjoying music, and playing with her rambunctious cat.

Obed Mazirwe

Mazirwe received a Bachelors of Information Technology from Bishop Stuart University Kakoba Mbarara in 2017 and is currently living in Engali Sub county. He volunteered at St. Charles Lwanga High School Kashekuro Marembo Kitagata as a Computer Lab Assistant for three months. He carried out his industrial training at Innovation Streams Limited for information technology in 2016 and was honored with the certificate in computer hardware repair and maintenance, networking, website development and software development. His professional interests focus on sharing knowledge with people, developing innovative and creative solutions to problems and his current projects include; computerized Report making system for St. Charles Lwanga High School Kashekuro. He enjoys graphics designing.

Deus Mwijuke

Deus holds a diploma in clinical and community health. He has worked in various capacities within the medical field, including as Laboratory and administration manager of Engari Community Health Centre for three years. He is currently the managing director of HEVIA Uganda, a Community Based Organization that works in the sectors of health, education, entrepreneurship, and environmentalism in Kamwenge and Kiruhura distritcts of rural Uganda. Deus has acted as coordinator of Village Health Teams, and has extensive experience working with organizations such as Marie Stopes, TASO, Compassion International, Uganda Health Marketing Group, and Makerere University Joint AIDS program. Deus comes from a poor family, was sponsored himself by international donors. He has since put several younger relatives through school, and is committed to improving the lives of many more Ugandan youth. He is married with two young boys. Deus enjoys working in good relationships with people and discovering what can be done to improve the lives of others.

Colleen Parson

When Colleen toured Uganda in January of 2017, she was taken by the beautiful landscapes, vibrant colors, and authentic lifestyle of the Ugandan people. The village of Engari provided a snap shot of the wholesome and traditional living of the villagers and how tirelessly they work to achieve a contented life. Colleen took a particular interest in talking with and learning about the daily lives of teen girls, as this is a demographic that Colleen has had experience working with in her profession. Colleen earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development at the University of Rhode Island and gained experience working with children in various school settings. Colleen also interned at a Domestic Violence Shelter and Counseling Center. In 2016, she earned her Master’s of Science in Human Development and specialized in Marriage and Family Therapy. Colleen now works as a family therapist in Providence, RI. She enjoys being active outside, getting out on the water, traveling, good food, and playing with her doggies.

Diphas Tayebwa

Diphas is a charismatic and hard working father of three young children. He studied from Makerere Business Training Center, earning a diploma in public administration and management, as well as a certificate in administrative law. He began his professional career as a field officer for Engari Community Health Centre, during which he also served as counterpart to Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Coker. He has also worked for seven years as the parish chief of two parishes in Engari sub county, and served as the assistant community development officer of Engari for two years. He currently works in the United Arab Emirates, where he works at an airport to support his children back home in Uganda. His intimate knowledge of the people and politics of Engari sub county and his ability to get things done makes him an invaluable asset to JOCF’s work.

Christine Ninsiima

Christine holds a diploma in business administration. She joined local government and has been working with the office of finance at Engari sub county Kiruhura District. After working for three years, she was promoted to serve as a senior sub county accountant, and she is always motivated to serve the community.

Owen Amutuhaire

Owen is a secondary school teacher at Engari secondary school. He has studied public administration and management from Makerere university, and also has a diploma in records management from Mbarara Institute for Social Development. He is currently studying for a degree award in human resource management at Ibanda University during weekends and school term breaks. Owen has worked with Engari secondary school for the last six years as a teacher for agriculture, assistant director of studies, and later a director of studies and deputy head teacher in charge of administration. He has helped many vulnerable children acquire education from Engari schools, and most of them are already earning a living for themselves. Owen has been to Sydney, Australia to fund raise for community projects especially schools and intends to do so until the young generation acquires the necessary education they deserve. He coordinates some students with sponsors from Australia and in doing some other community projects. He is a friendly, generous and kind gentleman married to Tusiime Anita with one daughter. He likes babies so much, singing and discovering.