Even Ground

Even Ground strives to help families and communities break the cycles of poverty and inequality by providing support to community-based programs that offer high-quality education and care to young people in Africa. We envision communities where all young people, regardless of their economic background, are given high-quality education and care to ensure a fair start in life and set them on the path towards a brighter future. UNAIDS estimates that to date, a staggering 14 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world and by 2025, it is estimated that 40% of South African adults will have died of t...
Apr 2, 2014

A Community Celebration

Cutting the cake at the opening ceremony
Cutting the cake at the opening ceremony

Dear friends of Thembanathi,

Since our last quarterly report in December, we've reached some major milestones in our programs here in South Africa. On the 11th of January, over 100 people came together to celebrate the completion of the new Siyabonga Early Childhood Development and Community Center.  Representatives of the traditional authority, the local municipality, and local churches attended, along with the families and students who have participated in our program and community members excited to see this new facility built to benefit all the young people of the area.  We were very pleased that six of our US-based volunteers, as well as the directors and staff from two of our sister projects in South Africa - Thanda and Holy Cross - were able to join in the celebration. Many who spoke expressed appreciation for the people from across the world that made this possible, reminding us all that we are connected no matter how far apart we are or how different the lives we lead. In addition to the many celebratory speeches, there was a great deal of singing and dancing, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a feast shared by all.  It was a great day for all of us to celebrate the accomplishments of our partners in South Africa and our supporters in the US and elsewhere.   

The next week saw the opening of our two new classrooms just in time for the start of the South African school year on January 16. The children who were with us in our old temporary facilities were delighted by the new classrooms filled with many new amazing materials. While initially a bit more tentative, the 43 new children who have been able to join our programs this year thanks to our expanded facilities have quickly opened up and are beginning to catch up with the others in their skills at learning games, songs, and other activities. The chalkboard walls, a suggestion of one of our advisory board members, have been an especially big hit with all of the children. They love covering the walls in drawings and then helping to wipe the surfaces clean to begin again. The children have also quickly discovered the many new blocks, trucks, dolls, and books – things many of the children had not seen before. It is fun to watch how fast they have become adept at building tall towers and then knocking them down.

It's amazing to think about how far we've come. None of this would have been possible without your generous support. We want to thank you for this! However, in order for the program to continue to serve these needy young people, and to grow to offer services to even more children and their families, we would very much appreciate your ongoing commitment to our programs. Please consider making a pledge to provide monthly support, as this form of support allows us to ensure continuity of care for young children facing adversity. A donation of only $25 per month will ensure that one of our center children continues to receive nutritious hot meals each day, while a $50 monthly pledge will cover the full costs of a young child's education, food and care at our high-quality early childhood center.

Thanks again to all of you for your support. We're excited to see what comes next!

Our team performs at the opening ceremony
Our team performs at the opening ceremony
Children celebrating before the ribbon cutting
Children celebrating before the ribbon cutting
One of our new classrooms
One of our new classrooms
A student enjoying our new chalkboard walls
A student enjoying our new chalkboard walls
A happy student
A happy student

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Mar 31, 2014

Preparing for Graduation: University Scholar News

University Scholar Visit
University Scholar Visit

A heart-felt thank you to all our generous donors from our sponsored scholars in Uganda!

As we mentioned in our 2013 Year End Report, the University Pilot Program was a new initiative of the Uganda Education Project that started in 2012 to provide an opportunity for top students from our secondary programs to continue their studies. The five students were accepted into diploma and degree programs at local universities, which are the equivalent of associates and bachelors degrees in the US. Our university scholars are studying subjects including finance, engineering, nursing and accounting, which will provide the necessary training for advanced careers not possible with only a secondary education.

Three of our scholars in diploma programs are finishing their last semesters and will soon be entering the workforce and entering a new stage of life. In additon to academic scholarships, we provide sponsored students with counselling, career guidance and mentorship, led by our local partner. These sessions are intended to provide scholars with the necessary support, life skills and coaching to make the most of the opportunities provided by their education.

At a recent event, a seminar on real world challenges potential graduates face discussed tactics on how to position onself within the workforce. Additionally, discussion of working towards a culture of giving back to communities in need was held. In addition to empowering youth through education, the Uganda Education Project hopes to instill a sense of community development and service in emerging leaders of the communities where we work.

As you may know, this fall we are hoping to start a new cohort of students for secondary education. This will require an annual budget of $7,000 USD. We appreciate the continued support of each of our donors, and have raised over half of the funds to launch the program. Please spread the word about our project to your friends, family and colleagues who may be interested in supporting our work.

Thank you!

Career Discussion with Scholars
Career Discussion with Scholars
Kayambogo University Visit
Kayambogo University Visit
Nursing Student Visit
Nursing Student Visit
Feb 11, 2014

A New (yet old) Culture of Agriculture is Growing at Thanda!

Duck Pond and Goat House
Duck Pond and Goat House

Thank you for your overwhelming support during the Microsoft Youth Spark campaign- we raised over $9000 in under 1 hour! This has enabled us to fund our ‘Care for the Environment’ after-school programs for 310 children, as part of Thanda’s Hands-on Learning Education curriculum. I love watching children at Thanda plant seedlings for the first time- their joy at watering and watching the plants grow each day after-school is wonderful, as they wait expectantly for vegetables to start. The local youth told us a few years ago that agriculture was ‘for old people’, but we clearly see a new culture developing where children and youth show interest in working with the environment to sustain their households and offer better nutrition. In December we visited the home of Philani, who has started a garden that helps support him living alone. He showed such pride in his garden and had developed valuable skills for life through his green peppers and beans!

You also funded the environmental sustainability, rural development, and entrepreneurship after-school programs for 120 high school students in 2014- essential tools for teenagers growing up in a rural community in South Africa. By the end of 2013, 100% of the 60 youth in our high school agriculture programs and 84.6% of the 30 performing arts students had been inspired to start their own vegetable gardens at home. This year, youth will focus on global warming and renewable energy, looking at Thanda’s solar panels as an example. The Computer class has already built a solar panel to power the first light-bulb in the computer lab- we can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!

Near the end of last year, we also created a sustainable duck pond from old tires, built a goat house, grew thousands more organic seedlings, and purchased 40 more egg-laying chickens. Now everyone has a place to sleep and we hope you enjoy these photos of what we’ve done so far on our ‘farm’.

Thank you for being our partner in this project. We are still raising funds for the high school agriculture and active citizenship programs in 2014, so your support is always appreciated as we teach such valuable tools to the next generation.

Our New Laying Hens
Our New Laying Hens
Our Seedling Nursery
Our Seedling Nursery
Building a Nursery
Building a Nursery
Getting our Hands Dirty
Getting our Hands Dirty
Having Fun
Having Fun
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