Financial Advisor Nora Pettinger Advances African Village Sustainability Efforts
While on a gorilla trek in Africa, Financial Advisor Nora Pettinger found a need she could help meet, assisting Rushaga community members with building a more self-sustaining community.
Located in the Uganda Mountains on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Rushaga community has limited food and educational resources. While there, Pettinger saw malnourishment, members living in huts made of grass and mud, and a school in disrepair.
Immediately drawn by the roughly 400 villagers’ graciousness and community spirit, Pettinger was inspired to help the community build a more reliable and sustainable food and educational system.
“I’ve gained a great deal of satisfaction over the years helping others reach financial independence by planning for and sustaining income during retirement,” said Pettinger, a 32-year veteran of the financial advice industry, founder of Independent Financial Resources, LLC, and a member of the family of financial advisors aligned with independent advisory and brokerage firm, Investacorp. “Yet, when I interacted with the Rushaga villagers, I recognized how unattainable financial security is when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. At that moment, it was a logical decision to help.”
Before Pettinger’s efforts, the school was limited to two dormitories and two schoolhouses with dirt floors. Chalk was used on the walls and lighting was limited to the windows. The school kitchen consisted of one pot over a wood fire.
Initial Self-Sustaining Efforts
“I hired the local tour guide and village advocate to be my project manager, as she had access to a phone and spoke English,” said Pettinger. “The women’s community group was put in charge of setting project priorities, while the men were hired to do the construction and the children were the benefactors of the projects. I gave them the choice of building a new schoolhouse, community center, kitchen or dormitory to house the orphans and children who traveled several miles each day to school. Ultimately, the women chose a schoolhouse, feeling strongly that education was the most important.”
After the schoolhouse was built, Pettinger funded the building of a new kitchen, believing it’s difficult for children to learn when they’re hungry. Solar panels were included to power the stove to reduce the cost of firewood, as well as provide power in the dormitories to enable evening lighting.
Additional funding was provided to enable the children to have one meal a day for two years while self-sustaining systems are put in place.
Returning to Uganda
This past summer, Pettinger returned to Rushaga to visit the community and witness the work that had been done.
She was still troubled by the shortage of food and wanted the school to be self-sustaining. After much discussion with the women’s group, it was decided that sheep would be the best option for the community.
To continue sustainability efforts, Pettinger funded the purchase of 40 sheep that the women’s group agreed to tend to.
According to Pettinger, sheep can experience gestation every five months, providing up to two lambs a year. The long-term plan is for the women’s group to keep one lamb per year for family use and donate the other to the school, enabling the school children to eat meat once a week, rather than once a year at Christmas.
Self-Sustaining Efforts Compound Donations from Tourists
Since Pettinger’s initial efforts, more schoolhouses and dormitories have been built, funded by tourists visiting the Rushaga community and seeing Pettinger’s support, realizing that they have the ability to help as well.
“Last year 94 children attended school,” said Pettinger. “This year, the number grew to 105 children, while next year 150 children are expected to attend school. The additional classrooms and dormitories are allowing the orphans and children from greater distances a place to learn, eat and sleep.”
A Word from Investacorp’s President & CEO
“Nora has been a member of the Investacorp family for more than three decades,” said Patrick Farrell, Investacorp President and CEO. “She’s an accomplished financial advocate and we value the enduring trust she’s placed in us to provide her with the forward-looking wealth management tools today’s investor demands. I have tremendous respect for Nora’s philanthropic leadership and ability to create meaningful and lasting impact within the Rushaga community. She works selflessly to alleviate the struggles of others and continually advocates for the greater good. I’m honored to work alongside her.”
About Independent Financial Resources, LLC
Located in Minnetonka, MN, Financial Advisor Nora K. Pettinger founded Independent Financial Resources, LLC, in 1987. The firm specializes in wealth accumulation planning for individuals approaching retirement and retirement income planning for retirees. Pettinger is a Registered Tax Return Preparer and emphasizes tax efficiency in all financial planning recommendations, including preparing individuals and families for tax-efficient income withdrawals during retirement. She holds Series 6, 7, 24 and 63 securities licenses and has been affiliated with independent advisory and brokerage firm Investacorp, Inc., for more than 31 years. To reach Nora Pettinger, call 952-932-0940 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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