Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa

by Advantage Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Better Lives for Vulnerable People in East Africa
Sarah's desperation has turned to hope
Sarah's desperation has turned to hope

This project furthers Advantage Africa’s goals of supporting vulnerable and excluded people to overcome poverty through practical projects, advocacy and more sustainable organisations.

The last four months in our partner communities across Uganda and Kenya have seen massive food price increases, falling exchange rates, Ebola and the emergence of the region’s worst drought for 40 years. Despite these challenges, we’ve supported vulnerable people in our partner communities every single day - and we hope these highlights will encourage you that your donations are making a big difference in their lives.

Our support of several hundred vulnerable families in Uganda is focused on those headed by single parents and sometimes even children. During this reporting period we were delighted to enable a family of five children living hand-to-mouth to be reunited with their paternal grandmother and purchase land to grow crops for food and income.

Our busy schedule of skin clinics in Uganda enabled around 1,000 people with albinism, including 100 in refugee settlements, to protect themselves from life-threatening skin cancer and receive vital food and hygiene supplies. We also enabled another eight people to have life-saving surgery and lobbied the Ugandan government to provide people with albinism with essential sunscreen.

In Kenya, Advantage Africa and its partners ran training courses on voting rights prior to the 9th August election, caring for children and enterprise development, all for people with disabilities. These training courses empowered and equipped around 100 people with disabilities with knowledge, skills and confidence to improve their lives for the long term. We also enabled 10 people to be fitted with bespoke wheelchairs so they can be mobile, and maintained many more. Several families whose homes had been damaged by flooding were assisted to repair and protect them for the future, and four survivors of sexual violence were supported with their mental and physical recovery.

The 20 families trained in goat rearing and provided with goats and water tanks mentioned in our previous report are now benefitting from their enterprises. The original 40 goats have now multiplied to 76 and most families now have at least half a litre of milk per day. Kambua, a single mother of three children, is one of the project’s beneficiaries. She now has five goats, harvests a litre of milk daily and says: ‘I never thought I would get this help to start earning an income for my family. Now our life is better than yesterday and I know it will get even better!’

During this reporting period, Advantage Africa extended the ‘Better Lives’ project to sex workers, focusing on their health and human rights. Training was held for 12 women to become community champions, reduce violence, prevent HIV and fight discrimination. Supportive networks are being built and sex workers are now accessing reliable information to improve their welfare. Small grants are also being provided for urgent financial needs and to establish alternative income sources.

The extreme vulnerability of the people supported by Advantage Africa is illustrated by an elderly woman called Sarah, who had debilitating pain in her leg which prevented her from walking. With donations from people like you, Advantage Africa enabled her to access medical help and make improvements to her home so it was safe and habitable. Bone infection in Sarah’s leg meant that it had to be amputated, but it healed well after the operation. Sarah is now back home, living pain-free with a wheelchair, commode, a new bed and bedding - which all make her life more comfortable. She’s assisted with her daily care and mobility by a neighbour and the desperation she previously felt has now changed into renewed dignity and hope.

We’re grateful for every donation to help people like Kambua and Sarah, and hope you will consider supporting Advantage Africa this Christmas. On 'Giving Tuesday', 29th November, all donations to Advantage Africa on GlobalGiving will attract matched funding - so your support goes even further in creating better lives for vulnerable people in East Africa.

Edward is all smiles after his life-saving surgery
Edward is all smiles after his life-saving surgery
Training care-givers of children with disabilities
Training care-givers of children with disabilities
Wheelchairs provide mobility and independence
Wheelchairs provide mobility and independence
Repairing homes and protecting them from floods
Repairing homes and protecting them from floods
Kambua has a secure livelihood by keeping goats
Kambua has a secure livelihood by keeping goats
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Isobel after being fitted with her new wheelchair.
Isobel after being fitted with her new wheelchair.

Advantage Africa’s ‘Better Lives’ project is based on the objectives of our current Strategic Plan, which are to (1) support the most vulnerable and excluded women, men and children to overcome poverty, (2) contribute to changing the conditions, attitudes, policies and practices that keep them in poverty, and (3) create a more resilient and sustainable organisation.

Achievements in the last quarter against objective (1) include:

Home visits and appliances for people with disabilities around Kibwezi and Migori, Kenya. Following assessments in the last period, this has brought the number of people provided with wheelchairs in the last year to 220; the robust chairs, designed for use in challenging rural environments, have empowered them with mobility and independence, sometimes for the first time in their lives.

Isobel from Kuria in western Kenya was one such beneficiary. Since her parents and brother died she has lived alone in a small mud house, and before being assessed and fitted with a wheelchair she suffered the indignity of being moved around in a wheelbarrow. Today, with support from people like you, she has a new wheelchair designed for the rough terrain around her home; she sits upright and her confidence and outlook have been transformed. Our local co-ordinator Sheila says ‘Isobel was so happy when she came for her wheelchair fitting; she had never before had any help like this and, she was very thankful’.

20 teachers from across Kenya were trained in our model of transition from school to adult life community for young people with intellectual disabilities. A further three students were supported to leave school and establish enterprises to help meet their families’ basic needs, bringing the total to 22. They include 19-year old Dennis who has started a popcorn selling business and is now the main bread-winner in his family.

We have supported 20 vulnerable families in Kibwezi, Kenya to rear Galla goats for milk and meat. These hardy goats are well adapted for the semi-arid conditions of the area and provide a sustainable source of nutrition and income to enable people to work their way out of poverty.

A further 17 skin clinics for people with albinism were held in Uganda (including two in refugee settlements) and a new partnership with Beyond Suncare was launched which will see vital education, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and cryotherapy expanded to Bugisu Sub Region. Seven people with advanced skin cancer were supported to have life-saving surgery.

Training in Uganda took place for 139 people affected by epilepsy and 41 by cerebral palsy so they could better understand and manage their conditions.

Epilepsy is very common in Uganda, but people affected are routinely shunned and neglected because its misunderstood or attributed to witchcraft. They and their families usually live in chronic poverty. Our training enabled 139 children and adults with epilepsy, their carers and community leaders, to understand and manage the neurological disease and resist the myths and discrimination that surround it. All 139 people were assessed and provided with tailored medication to put them in control of their condition. Since then almost all have reported their lives have been transformed by a complete end to the debilitating and life-threatening seizures from which they previously suffered. We’re now keen to support these families to start small income-generating enterprises to lift them out of poverty and further boost their confidence and self-reliance.

Across both countries we helped a dozen families experiencing severe hardship (including several child-headed households) with land, housing, food, healthcare and school fees to improve their lives and build their resilience as inflation and drought reached our project areas.

Outcomes against our advocacy objective (2) included a successful commemoration of International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) on 13th June in Jinja, Uganda. Several thousand people witnessed the march and/or attended the rally, including 549 people with albinism. After two years of lockdown without such a celebration, it was cathartic for them to come together again and the day was full of joy, solidarity and encouragement. Some of the attendees had never met other people with albinism before and one said: 'My life has been full of misery. Thank you for bringing us together. Now I know I am worthy and not alone with this condition'.

National media coverage of the IAAD event enabled our partner the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism to reach several million people with a message about the equal worth and human rights of people with albinism.

Also this quarter, we enabled refugees with albinism to share their stories directly with the UN’s Independent Expert on Albinism, equipping her with evidence to alert the global refugee agency UNHCR to the neglected needs of refugees with albinism.

Finally, towards objective (3) of creating a more resilient and sustainable organisation, we secured funding for a new project among single parent families in Kyabiiri, Uganda and purchased a vehicle to expand our reach and reduce the high transport costs of our albinism project.

Advantage Africa also participated in GlobalGiving’s July Bonus Day, which attracted donations and matched funding towards this project as well as life-saving operations for people with albinism on our albinism project page https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/end-skin-cancer-for-people-with-albinism-in-uganda/

We’re most grateful to supporters like you who made all this this life-changing work possible. Thank you, and please spread the word!

Dennis now has a bright future.
Dennis now has a bright future.
Constance receives her goats.
Constance receives her goats.
Skin clinic in refugee settlement.
Skin clinic in refugee settlement.
Moses receives his first ever epilepsy medication.
Moses receives his first ever epilepsy medication.
On IAAD, cryotherapy on pre-cancerous lesions .
On IAAD, cryotherapy on pre-cancerous lesions .
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Young people create health messages.
Young people create health messages.

As the lockdowns imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted in East Africa and schools reopened (in Uganda, after a two-year closure) Advantage Africa’s work shifted from emergency relief back to the sustainable development initiatives encompassed by our ‘Better Lives’ project. Highlights from the last quarter included the following:

We trained 30 young leaders in Kenya to create and share accurate information about sexual and reproductive health, HIV, gender-based violence and substance abuse using mobile phone technology. These ‘Ambassadors’ have subsequently led their own youth groups to create engaging video clips, poems, songs, animations, and short plays that were shared on social media. We estimate that at least 2,000 people have been reached, with up to 10,000 onward shares. Project Manager Burgwin Muthoka said: ‘The Youth Ambassadors are highly engaged, and we are learning the power of digital technology to get our awareness messages known far and wide.’

Students with disabilities from four of our twenty partner schools in Kenya were assisted to make successful transitions from school to home and community life by starting enterprises that will contribute to their families’ incomes. Rufus, who has multiple disabilities, is one example; he had become ‘stuck’ in education well into his twenties and was supported to leave school and start poultry-keeping at home under his mother’s guidance.

18 successful clinics (including one in Nakivale Refugee Settlement) were held for 345 people with albinism in Uganda to prevent life-threatening skin cancer, and surgery was carried out to remove advanced cancer from five individuals. We exported 3,306 bottles of high SPF sunscreen kindly donated by our partner Ultrasun UK for distribution at the life-saving clinics and began a new partnership with Beyond Suncare which will see these vital services expanded to Bugisu Sub-region.

Over 50 people with disabilities in Kenya and Uganda were provided with wheelchairs and other mobility aids. This included 30 people for the first time in Migori, western Kenya including several who had been housebound for years

On the other side of the country, in Kibwezi, our technicians were trained to an advanced level in fitting wheelchairs. Their workshop is the only rehabilitation centre for people with disabilities for tens of thousands of square miles.

In Buyaga, Uganda, we provided training in malaria prevention and distributed 810 insecticide treated mosquito nets to 250 vulnerable households to protect 1,500 people, including infants, from life-threatening malaria. Single parent Joyce was one of the 250 parents overjoyed to receive sufficient nets to protect her whole family. Our subsequent monitoring visits found families like hers diligently and daily using their nets and community leaders report a dramatic reduction in malaria cases.

Some of the most vulnerable people in Buyaga live in dangerous and dilapidated dwellings and during this period we helped eight families affected by old age or disability to improve their homes, security and sense of well-being. The home of Anna-Maria was previously half-finished and unsafe so our team, local builders and community members helped her to complete it. Anna-Maria said ‘May God bless those that contributed towards repairing my house. I was born in 1936 and no-one has ever helped me like this!’ Anna Maria is a good example of how, with your wonderful support, this project is enabling some of the most vulnerable people in East Africa to have better lives and hope for the future. Thank you.

Skin clinic consulation at Nakivale.
Skin clinic consulation at Nakivale.
Young people in Migori with their wheelchairs.
Young people in Migori with their wheelchairs.
Joyce receives mosquito nets for her family.
Joyce receives mosquito nets for her family.
Anna Maria (right) with her new home.
Anna Maria (right) with her new home.
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Organization Information

Advantage Africa

Location: Olney, Buckinghamshire - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Andrew Betts
Olney, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom
$15,396 raised of $20,000 goal
 
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