Community awareness meeting
Kitgum Concerned Women’s Association (KICWA) was formed in 1998 by a group of women volunteers who were concerned about the plight of formerly abducted children from Kitgum District in northern Uganda. As the number of children returning from captivity has decreased due to the on-going peace process, KICWA is now focusing on the resettlement needs of these children and communities that have been displaced by the conflict. Here is a selection of recent achievements:
Increased School Attendance
The holistic educational support provided to the schools and children has promoted enrolment, attendance, and consequently improved the performance of the children who would otherwise lack the opportunity to access education due to poverty. This support included provision of school uniforms, books, pens/pencils, and mathematical sets that were provided to all the targeted children; and sports equipment (balls, sports uniforms etc) and stationery to six primary schools that are supported by the project. The support has inspired the children to attend school on a regular basis since they now have the basic scholastic materials and can take part in sports activities:
“I was very excited about the support especially the football that made me not to miss school; because we now have football in school, I am so much obsessed with playing that I think of never missing school.” Pupil
“I used to successively miss classes because of lack of scholastic materials and household chores. I was always forced to do casual work to raise money to buy books and pens for me and my siblings. However due to the support from KICWA, it helped me to promptly be in school and hence was able to pass to the next class.” Pupil
The project has recently enrolled 20 children born in captivity in early childhood education. The children were able to start learning while their parents (young mothers) were able to engage in income generating activities and household chores. The project was able to pay for their school fees and other scholastic needs such as uniforms, books, and pens.
Improved School Performance
Educational support has led to the improvement of the children’s academic performance. Because of increased attendance and interest in studying, all children were able to progress to the next class. Out of the 187 children supported in primary education 84% passed with high grades and progressed to the next class while 16% passed with low grades.
Increased Community Responsibility
The project has improved the knowledge and awareness of the roles and responsibilities of key actors in the education of children in the community. KICWA organized 18 dialogue meetings with teachers, parents, children and School Management Committees (SMCs) in the parishes to sensitize and create awareness on each actors’ roles and responsibilities in the education and development of children. Through the interactive meetings the members became fully aware of their roles.
“I spare some time to find out what my child is doing in school and count books and pens given to her to avoid any loss.” Parent
Increased Community Awareness
The project has helped to increase knowledge and awareness of community members on the importance of education for girls and the impact of domestic violence and gender-based violence (GBV) on community development. KICWA recently organized four dialogue and sensitization meetings in two parishes in Kitgum district. The meetings attracted parents and other members of the community and were facilitated by community leaders, the police and members of the child protection committees. The meetings were an eye opener to many community members.
“I used to think that the issue of GBV was an attempt by the female folk to dominate the male folk, but after the meeting I now know that its related to the gender roles (social responsibilities attached to the respective sexes) that need to be shared between husband and wife; I will now go back home and help my wife to bathe my children.” Parent
The project has recently helped 10 child mothers to enroll in vocational skills training and provided them with tools to help them establish income generating activities. The mothers have acquired various skills such as tailoring, hair dressing, sign language, and tanning, which have helped them to secure work and become less dependent on their parents.
Improved Income Levels
The project has contributed to improvement in the income level and savings culture of the child mothers. This is evident by their improved ability to meet their children’s basic needs such as paying for their medical bills, clothing, food and other household related costs. Most of the child mothers in the women’s groups are able to earn more than three dollars a day as all of them are actively engaged in income generating activities. Similarly, the activities of village savings and loan schemes have improved the saving culture of the child mothers involved in the business activities.
“I now earn over 5,000shs ($2.5) daily from my small business and I have managed to accumulate savings of up to 750,000shs ($325) in the past six months. The proceeds from the business has helped me to buy livestock such as pigs and goats which I shall sell in future at a higher price to buy a piece of land for my children.” Mother