Uganda closed its schools for longer than any other country during COVID and most of our children had no classroom time for 2 years. All children but especailly girls were deeply impacted. Many married off early, teen pregnancy rates skyrocketed and with incomes falling working in the informal economy helped support families, money that it is hard to do without just because schools have opened again. It is calculated that 30% of children did not return.
Last year for us was a "getting back on our feet" year. Schools, neglected for 2 years, needed a lot of infrastructure repair and children had to get used to sitting in class again. We delayed some of our programs while the schools sorted themselves out but we are going into 2023 with all guns blazing.
We will be holding reproductive health Peer Education training, teaching girls, teachers and parents how to make reusable menstrual pads, awarding secondary school scholarships to the neediest girls, building girl friendly latrines, building our health clubs and supporting our 14 new girl scout troups.
We will not only regain lost ground but surpass it.
This year marks 100 years of excellence in Girl Guiding in Uganda. While many girls travelled to Kampala to join competitions at the national level the Kasiisi Project celebrated the event locally. We were in a great position to do having held a ForGirlsSake funded Girl Guide leader training program earlier in the year, ensuring that all our schools has girl guide troups.
128 Guides ( known as Girl Scouts in the USA) and 16 Guide Leaders from 16 Schools met at the Kasiisi Project farm camp ground for 2 days of competition and camping. The event was voted a great success and requests were made to make this an annual event.
We were asked by a neighbouring school district to hold workshops to teach their girls to construct homemade reusable menstrual pads (RUMPS). Store bought pads are beyond the reach of many rural Ugandan girls, especially when the COVID epidemic has hit so many family budgets. A lack of pads means that girls often miss school for 5 days a month. RUMPS, made from easily obtained scrap materials can be washed and reused many times, giving girls a budget friendly alternative to commercial products. Senior woman teachers and five girls from each of 7 schools attended a workshop run by our staff. They will now teach their new skills to their peers.
In the face of continued school closures, poor access to educational resources, and waning student, engagement early marriage, teen pregnancy and child labor are all on the rise in Uganda. Lack of education impacts all children but those from marginalized communities like ours are impacted most and girls most of all.
Most of our children have not been on school for almost 2 years. To combat the impact of COVID-19 on our schools our wonderful staff has sought to ensure children continue to learn! Every two weeks our team assembles and delivers home learning packets to over 2,500 students in rural areas surrounding Kibale National Park. Completed work is collected, marked and returned to the students.
When schools opened in Uganda briefly in May we were all primed to being sexual health programming to Grades 4-6 on the 16 schools we work with. Sadly schools closed again at the begginning of July - likely unitl 2022 - but what we achieved in one month shows the potential impact of well organized, properly funded projects on girls' wellbeing.
535 girls in 16 school health clubs received weekly after-class health programming for a total of 2,745 student activities in the first month. Numbers were restricted to members of school health clubs because of COVID and lessons were 30 minutes long.
Topics differed from school to school, depending on areas that teachers felt were of prime importance to their particular students. They covered a range of subjects intended to help girls stay in school, giving both practical health advice (e.g. personal hygiene, constructing re-useable menstrual pads, nutrition, HPV vaccinations etc.) and psychological support for everyday challenges including returning to school after COVID.
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