This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving’s 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn’t go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!
Considering the nature of JFCU’s activities and the ever growing world concern on child-marriage, my team and I felt urgent need to help end child-marriage in Karangura Sub County, Kabarole District; a sub county that was leading in child-marriage cases not only in Kabarole but also in the Western Region.
Karangura Sub County is located in Kabarole District, Western Uganda at the foot of Mt.Rwenzori with Bakonjo as the main inhabitants. At the time we were launching the project, different reports showed, Bakonjo were marrying off their daughters of ages between 12 and 14 due to a number of reasons among which were:
the impact of Allied Democratic Forces’ (ADF) rebel activities that had concentrated in the RwenzoriMountains from 1997 to 2007;
the Bakonjo culture that promotes child marriage;
poverty in most homes in the sub county;
parents’ ignorance on the value of educating the girl-child;
the effects of economic activities that had followed the construction of Fort-Portal – Bundibugyo-Lamia Road.
Implementation of the project
The start did not go as we had expected. After the initial field visit of Karangura Sub County, we were overwhelmed by a number of challenges like: the large size of the sub county; nearly all the children in the sub county were in need; the mountainous nature of the area and the parents’ low levels of education. Those challenges couldn’t allow us make any progress; we had to put all activities on halt! In addition, by that time, JFCU’s offices were only in Kampala, Uganda’s capital that is approximately 297 kilometres (185 miles) by road, and our staff could hardly speak Lukonzo, the language of the land.
Failing had not been our target. We wanted to make a change in the region. We wanted to help the girl-child in Karangura realise her life’s dream. We had to go back on the drawing board and and readjust our strategies on how we could have the Empower Project implemented in Karangura Sub County. JFCU team decided:
to open offices in Fort-Portal (Kabarole’s major town) to help coordinate the project activities
to seek guidance from Karangura Sub County L.Council III (L.C. III) executive on the most affected parish where two primary schools to concentrate the project activities would be selected
to engage in fundraising activities so as to solicit funds to support the project activities
buy nunny goats to beneficiaries. First female off springs to be collected and offered to other needy girls
to donate textbooks for schools that would be selected so as to support daily teaching/learning and encourage pupils‘ independent study
to donate sanitery towels to schools that would be selected so as to support adolescent girls maintain menstrual hygiene
to select teacher coordinators in selected schools so they could help monitor the beneficiaries and also do interpretation during JFCU staff’s field visits
to work with the L.C. III executive to help guide JFCU staff engage in community activities
After attending the July, 2014 GlobalGiving Meeting in London, I had to lead my team to implement all we had planned. It was time to get the Empower Project implemented in Karangura Sub County! With the help of the L.C. III executive, we selected Kibwa Parish where we would specifically concentrate Empower Project activities in Mahyoro and Kibyo Primary Schools.
JFCU’s engagement in GlobalGiving activities has attracted donations that started as far as November, 2014 has provided funds that have greatly supported the project’s activities in the sssub county. Goats have been donated to the beneficiaries, scholastic materials likepupils‘ and teachers‘ text books have been donated to the participating schools, among other achievements. The Empower Project Evaluation Report of January, 2017 gave us an insight that the project is doing well despite the earlier challenges and those that we are still to address. .
Our effort to make a positive change in Karangura Sub County constantly reminds me to ponder on Barrack Obama’s words:
Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.