Aug 27, 2021

Vaccines for Teachers Bring Hope

Kathy's Kindergarten Pupils Singing, May 2021
Kathy's Kindergarten Pupils Singing, May 2021

Thanks to the GlobalGiving community and other supporters, Kathy’s Kindergarten in Mayuge has provided high-quality early years education to hundreds of pupils.  We are so proud of our early years teachers Jennifer, Grace, and Joan who educate the young learners with great care and enthusiasm, breathing hope into their lives.

Sadly, Covid19 has impacted the education sector in Uganda to devastating effect. Over the past 2 years, schools in Uganda have been closed more than they have been open. According to a report by the African Development Bank, Ugandan students have missed out on more days of school than children in almost any other African country (second only to Ethiopia). During the Ugandan national lock-down in 2020 our kindergarten teachers reached each pupil with home-learning support and vital food supplies for the most vulnerable families.

In May and June 2021, during a brief window in time in which Covid19 restrictions were eased, our teachers reached all 60 of our current Kindergarten pupils with catch-up learning. We also ensured that each pupil completed and passed their mandated end of year exam to allow them to move up to the next year of education, a major success! 

On 11th June the government of Uganda announced a new national lock-down which lasted for 42 days. During this time, not only were all school closed, but strict travel restrictions meant that it was difficult for the majority of people living in Mayuge District to earn a living, farm their fields, or access markets. For people who live hand to mouth even in usual circumstances, this meant that each day was a fight for survival.

Now that the lock-down restrictions have once again been partially lifted, our Kindergarten teachers are able to contact Kindergarten pupils and their families in Covid19-safe ways. However, our kindergarten remains closed, along with every other school in the country.

A glimmer of hope can be seen on the horizon. Recently a limited number of Covid19 vaccine doses have arrived in Uganda and the national government has declared they will prioritise vaccinating school teachers. Our kindergarten teachers have been invited to have their first dose of the vaccine, and we hope that all teachers in the country receive their vaccines soon. Only when all of the nation’s teachers are vaccinated will schools be allowed to reopen. This process is likely to take months to complete, but we look forward to the day we can once again welcome our young pupils at Kathy’s Kindergarten.

One parent’s quote says it all “Kathy’s kindergarten is the best school have ever seen in Mayuge, the teachers are exceptional, the teachers have made my child to love school and it has boosted her mentally.”

Thank you again to everyone in the GlobalGiving community who supports this vital work. We couldn’t do it without you!

Kind Regards,

Madelaine Johnston
CEO of Act4Africa UK

Aug 5, 2021

Reaching out to Young Mothers During Covid19

A young mother& her baby at Act4Africa's Centre
A young mother& her baby at Act4Africa's Centre

Thanks to the generous donations from our GlobalGiving supporters and others, over the past four months Act4Africa's dedicated local team has provided holistic support to 100 vulnerable young mothers, and reached out to their families and wider community in Mayuge District, Uganda, even during the most difficult of times. Covid19 is once again hitting Uganda hard, causing hospitals to overflow, oxygen supplies to run out, and normal life to grind to a halt.

Starting in April, our team took every precaution to ensure that the young mothers in our program could attend sessions at our center in a Covid-safe way. In total, 100 young mothers met outdoors with their babies in the grounds Kathy's Centre (Act4Africa's base) in groups of 20 per day, taking part in uplifting mental health and wellbeing sessions, as well as empowering sexual and reproductive health lessons. Many of these young mothers are survivors of sexual abuse and trauma, and we are blessed to be in a position to speak life-affirming messages of love and hope into their lives. For these young women who have been isolated and sidelined due to the stigma of unintended pregnancy, finding a new group of friends has been deeply healing. True and lasting friendships between the young women are forming as they encourage one another to reach the goals they have set in their own lives, and support one another to heal from past wounds.

At Act4Africa we understand that community is everything, so in addition to empowering the young mothers themselves, our team also reached out to each of their families. In May, through honest and at times emotionally charged conversations, our team gently began a process of reconciliation between young mothers and their parents and partners, mending broken relationships and ensuring everyone in their family group understood how and why we were intervening in their lives.

Relationships of mutual respect are being formed and reinforced between the Act4Africa team and the community in Mayuge. In June, growing speculation of a new national lock-down spurred our team to act quickly to inform the community of the particular dangers girls and women face during lock-down conditions, hoping to prevent the compound tragedy of crisis pregnancy during a time of societal upheaval. On 10th June, the Act4Africa team held a one-hour radio program on Mayuge FM, the most popular local station, reaching 5,000 listeners, compelling parents to look out for their adolescent daughters to prevent another spike in unintended pregnancy as was seen during the first lock-down in 2020. During the final 15 minutes of the program, 15 eager listeners called into the show, thanking our team for the care and support we are providing for vulnerable young mothers, and imploring us to expand our work to neighboring districts.

The very next day, a second national lock-down was announced. The strict stay-at-home order began on Friday 11th June, scheduled to last for 42 days. During these 6 long weeks families who were already living hand to mouth at the edge of extreme poverty were plunged into destitution, unable to earn and income or access food. Families who grow crops on small plots outside of their own communities were not able to travel to harvest their crops - so they stayed at home starving while the food rotted in their fields. Starvation and malnutrition is widespread as a result. Now that the travel restrictions have finally eased, our team are busy preparing emergency food and hygiene supply parcels for each of the 100 young mothers and their families - helping to rebuild their physical strength after a terrible period of hunger.

Our team are eagerly awaiting the day in mid-August when the young mothers once again return to our center to start building their future plans with our love and support. Thank you for helping us to changes the lives of these precious young women and their families. We couldn't do it without you!

Quotes from 3 of the young mothers in our program:

Maureen says "This program defines a new beginning in my life with my two children."
Nubuwati's dreams had been shattered by the cruel actions of others but she said after attending Act4Africa empowering sessions "I must become the woman I desire to be and nothing can stop me".
Mariam rejoices and celebrates by saying "I have found the people that have been missing in my life, my pieces are being gathered and my future is assured."

Links:

Jun 24, 2021

A handful of grain can go a long way!

“When the chimney smokes we send the children to school.”
These words, spoken to me by a Ugandan lady, puzzled me at first. I asked what she meant.
“It’s simple, we cannot afford to let our children go to school unless they get fed there. At least then we know they have some food in their belly. If there is no smoke from the school kitchen then there is no food being cooked for them. It is better that they stay at home to help with the digging. At least then we might have food tomorrow.”
 
That brought home very starkly to me that the children are hungry, they are last in the queue for food, their growth is stunted, their energy is sapped. They know they must help with the digging and fetching water, they do so gladly, but it would be good to let them learn to read and write as well and get them out of this cycle of poverty.
Subsistence farming is a hard way of life in Uganda - the plots are small and the yields are low. Poor storage of crops after harvest causes further loss due to infestation and contamination by dangerous fungi. This fragile food chain affects all, especially babies and young children.
Preparing School Dinner.
If their nutritional needs are not met, the growing child is at risk of irreversible growth stunting and poor neurological development. They are susceptible to infection and even death. The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically worsened this situation. 35 women farmers in the Mayuge district of Uganda have already taken part in Act4Africa's proven Grains for Growth programme and tell us they have benefitted from improved food security throughout the pandemic.
The women are shown new ways to check that the crop is dry enough for storage, it is then placed in reusable containers to prevent any deterioration. The loss of maize after harvest has reduced from 30-50% to virtually zero. The family then has a safe, secure supply of food for use or sell later in the year. A handful of grain may even used as part payment of school fees, meaning children are less likely to miss school. 
Uganda is currently experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases and has recently gone into total lockdown once again. This means millions more people will be pushed into extreme poverty, due to an inability to work, making the need for us to deliver this project even greater. 
 
Please Donate to support long-term improvements in food security today. 
£11 buys three heavy-duty airtight bags which will hold 100kg of grain each (enough for 365 meals) safe and secure from insect damage.
£16 will buy a tarpaulin drying sheet to prevent dangerous contamination of grain.

Report courtesy of Dr Jan Webb, British GP and member of the Act4Africa Grains for Growth team - the read her full report visit the Act4Africa Blog.

Links:

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.