Jen Harvey, President

Jen is a teacher at Quadra Elementary School, in the Greater Victoria School District.  She teaches both dance and music.  Jen has been to Uganda previously when she volunteered for the Jane Goodall Institute, bringing an environmental education program to primary teachers in Kasese.  She was able to visit the school that PODA built and work with the teachers & students.

Jen is the Entertainment Chair on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Forces Sailing Association.  She plays the piano with the Groovin’ Hard jazz band.

Kathy Buettner, Secretary

Kathy is a Policy Analyst for the Ministry of Advanced Education within the Government of BC.  She has been a keen supporter and volunteer of PODA before becoming a Board Member this year.  Kathy is currently the PAC Chair for Victoria High School, and a volunteer for Kaleidoscope Theatre.  She is a sighted guide for blind/visually impaired members of her dragon boat team, Outta Sight, sponsored by the BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association.

Kathy holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Sociology and Education from the University of Victoria, and she is certified to teach ESL.

Justin Taverna, Director at Large

Justin is the co-founder of First Light Technologies Ltd., a Victoria based company that designs and manufacturers solar and LED lighting products.  With over 15 years’ experience designing off grid solar electric systems, he has previously been involved in PODA as their photovoltaic expert.  Other volunteer projects include providing solar electric design and technical support for Partners in Health in Haiti, and for multiple schools within BC.

Justin earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Montana State University and a B.S. in Physics from Wheeling Jesuit University. When not on the phone spreading the good word of solar lighting, he enjoys spending time surfing in the brisk waters of the Pacific Northwest, and hiking with his family, friends, two dogs and sometimes cat.

See our full Board of Directors here.


Between 2nd and 3rd term (early August), we had all the classroom floors cemented.  A donation from the Sonrise Church in Hillsboro, Oregon, made this possible. What a difference – they look amazing!


At the beginning of 3rd term, students once again received school supplies from Ideba Marketing.  Thank you Ideba for your continued support.

In September, there was an assembly at the West Union Elementary School in Hillsboro, Oregon.  This link is the video that Principal John Allen presented at the assembly.  West Union did a cultural exchange with the students at Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School (MLSS).  Principal Allen travelled to Uganda in July and presented what his students had made to the students at MLSS.  He returned with the art work from MLSS and presented it to the students at the assembly in September.

If you missed our July 2015 trip blog…here it is


We are looking for new, sustainable projects to develop in the Bwera area.  A briquette making machine that utilizes bio-mass is one such project that has caught our eye.  The green machine you see in this photo is a press that forms the briquettes and then they are sun dried before being used as fuel.  What do you think of this project?  Have you heard of other projects that fit our criteria?  Please send us information and/or your feedback here.



We will be travelling to Uganda in July 2016 for about two to three weeks.  We will primarily be in the Kasese region and will be developing projects at the school (MLSS) and communities in the Bwera area.  All costs for the trip are typically covered by the volunteer.  If you are interested in learning more about this trip, please contact us here.