Feed, Educate, Empower Acholi Women and Girls

by The River Fund
Vetted
Group photo after a meeting in Kitgum Uganda
Group photo after a meeting in Kitgum Uganda

Secondary Education Support for Vulnerable Girls
www.riverfund.org

Report compiled by Aloyo Innocent Jessie, Project Leader: River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Women Association, Kitgum.

Background.

The River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Association is a Community Based Organization (CBO) founded in 2007 by committed and motivated women to contribute towards improving the quality of life of persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, through educating and empowering the women and girls on HIV/AIDs Long Term Survival Skills and sponsorship and mentorship of girls in schools, economic empowerment and livelihood food security enhancement for a sustainable development for self-reliance through seeds provision, training in kitchen gardening and support to malnourished children through provision of trainings in provision of nutritious meals, and provision of basic items like soap, sugar, cooking oil, salt.
The organisation envisions a just and caring society where people yearn to help one another and realize that every human being is connected to one another for a change in the world with values such as: sharing, Love, Non-Discrimination, Humility, Peace, Non Violence, Justice, Inclusiveness, Service, Dedication, Honesty, Transparency, and Compassion.
Activities carried out this quarter.
1. Meeting with parents of supported students
2. Provision of sanitary towels to the beneficiaries.
3. Payment of Fees for the beneficiaries.

Achievements.

• Of the 11 students who sat for Uganda certificate of education (UCE), last year, four have joined Primary Teachers’ College, one is to join Nursing School this April and 6 have joined A’ Level to pursue Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE)
• 9 students are now in S.4 waiting to sit for their UCE this year and 1 student is in S.3.
• 21 girls supported with Sanitary towels; 3 packets each for term I.
• Conducted a meeting with parents of the beneficiaries. The meeting streamlined on what the sponsorship covers and what parents of the students should do in-order to enable the girls concentrate on their education. It further highlighted on the roles and responsibilities of the school, parents, the students and the River Fund in supporting the students’ education. Parents agreed to contribute towards their children’s education.

Challenges.

• Transport to and from the project sites is yet another of the challenges being faced. River Fund does not have a reliable means of transport and hence relies majorly on hiring motorcycles to facilitate field activities.
• Increase in School Dues that can’t be supported by the limited fund for the project.
• Some parents are unable to provide for scholastic materials and some basic items like soap, sugar for their children leaving them to always go without to school. This to some extent keeps them going in and out of school to ask parents to provide them.

Lessons learnt.

• Close involvement of the teachers is key in project success as they help in the beneficiaries’ career guidance and mentoring.
• Close involvement and work with the parents and or guardians of the girls to help provide moral support and encouragement.
• Close monitoring and follow up at school by project leader is key in fostering mentorship of the girls
• Mentorship of the students is a key factor to their performance and moral education which should continue.

Conclusion.

Term 1 begun well with all the supported students returning to school within the first week of new school term. The project leader made and executive members made a number of school visits to meet with the students and mentors in their respective school.

We are so thankful to GlobalGiving and the River Fund for this support. We could not have done this without all of your help!

A mentoring meeting with beneficiaries.
A mentoring meeting with beneficiaries.

RIVER FUND HIV/AIDS FAMILY SUPPORT ASSOCIATION, KITGUM.

Project Name.

GIRLCHILD EDUCATION PROJECT

Project Area.

KITGUM DISTRICT, KITGUM TOWN COUNCIL, AMIDA, LATANYA SUB-COUNTIES.

Project Period: November 2015- January 2016

Contacts:
ALOYO INNOCENT JESSIE
+256(0)774-002070
Email: jescaopoka@yahoo.co.uk

RIVER FUND HIV/AIDS FAMILY SUPPORT WOMEN ASSOCIATION is a Community Based organization established in 2006. Its office is situated at Christ the King parish, Kitgum Town Council, Kitgum district, Uganda. It has a total membership of 30 women who have volunteered to help sensitize and restore hope to the traumatized community (orphans, child headed families, people affected with HIV/Aids) as well as improve the nutrition of malnourished children.

Key focused areas of intervention include; Training People Living With Aids (PLWA) on long term Survival skills, Care of malnourished children through providing food stuff, Counseling of married couples on coping with the Aids pandemic situation in their families, Home visits of PLWA, Educating mothers on providing proper and balanced nutrition using locally available resources and Initiating livelihood and economic strengthening schemes for PLWA that do not demand too much energy and Educating the rural women and girls-providing sponsorship to secondary School going girls.

This year 2015, with support from Global Giving and The River Fund in Florida, the Association has managed to support 20 Secondary School going girls in their education.

Activities carried out include:-

1. Mentorship of the beneficiaries.
To enable the mentorship to be successful, with the help of the school administration, two teachers per school were identified to have close interaction with the students being supported by the project during school times. The teachers organize monthly group meeting with all the girls to enable them discuss together what possible challenges they face that may interfere with their performance and education.

In this session, the discussion dwelt more on what ways forward for the girls especially in this long holidays. This question was meant to provoke the girls thinking to go beyond just being holidays makers by involving themselves in social events that may otherwise have negative impacts on their lives but rather to encourage them think of helping their parents on productive activities that in the end will support their education and lives of people in their households.

In the meeting the girls who turned up for the session expressed their desires to continue with formal education especially for those in senior three while those in senior four awaits the outcome of the UCE results which shall inform their next education strategies either to continue to Advanced level or branch to institutions such as nursing schools, primary teachers colleges or any other institutions that they may meet the requirements.

Lessons learnt
Mentorship is very important for the improvement in the performance of students at school because it provide an avenue for opening up by the students about the challenges they are facing that if not handled may interfere with their studies. During mentorship meetings, the volunteers explore the students challenging situations now that they are on holidays and talk about it with them to find out the best way of handling the difficult situations. The problems vary from disco dances that are always organized by traders within the different sub-counties, parents leaving the children alone to look after their siblings when they go for social events such as funerals.
With the difficult financial situations and peer influence some girls may fall victims of situations like teen age pregnancies if not constantly monitored and supported by their guardians and parents.

Challenges
Due to far off distances from the Kitgum Town, not many beneficiaries were able to come for the meeting(mentorship) since this requires them to meet transport costs and feeding when they are away from home being holidays period. Only those within Kitgum Town attended the session.
Recommendations
Organize meetings with parents of the girls to discussion the ways forward for their daughters who sat for Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) to decide on whether to continue with secondary or join institutions for those who may not wish to continue to Advanced level education.

A mentoring meeting with beneficiaries.
A mentoring meeting with beneficiaries.

Secondary Education Support for Vulnerable Girls (Funded by Global Giving)
www.riverfund.org

Report compiled by Aloyo Innocent Jessie, Project Leader: River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Women Association, Kitgum.

Background.
The River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Association is a Community Based Organization (CBO) founded in 2007 by committed and motivated women to contribute towards improving the quality of life of persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, through educating and empowering the women and girls on HIV/AIDs Long Term Survival Skills and sponsorship and mentorship of girls in schools, economic empowerment and livelihood food security enhancement for a sustainable development for self-reliance through seeds provision, training in kitchen gardening and support to malnourished children through provision of trainings in provision of nutritious meals, and provision of basic items like soap, sugar, cooking oil, salt.
The organisation envisions a just and caring society where people yearn to help one another and realize that every human being is connected to one another for a change in the world with values such as: Sharing, Love, Non-Discrimination, Humility, Peace, Non Violence, Justice, Inclusiveness, Service, Dedication, Honesty, Transparency, and Compassion.

Activities carried out this quarter.
1. Meeting with parents of supported students
2. Mentorship of the students by mentors and the project leader
3. Provision of sanitary towels to the beneficiaries.

Achievements.
• Of the 21 students being supported, 11 are now sitting for Uganda certificate of education (UCE).

• 21 girls supported in Career guidance by the academic masters in which subjects they must concentrate on to achieve their desired careers.

• 21 girls supported with Sanitary towels; 3 packets each for term III.

• Conducted a meeting with parents of the beneficiaries. The meeting streamlined on what the sponsorship covers and what parents of the students should do in-order to enable the girls concentrate on their education.

Challenges.
• Transport to and from the project sites is yet another of the challenges being faced. River Fund does not have a reliable means of transport and hence relies majorly on hiring motorcycles to facilitate field activities.
• Overwhelming demand since there are many girls with similar vulnerabilities that need support.
• Lack of support from some parents who have decided to sit back and not support their daughters with the believe that the River Fund should provide everything required for their daughters’ education since the Association is now supporting their school fees. This made some of the girls to from time to time despite their fees having been paid to return home for things like soap, books and other grabs.

Lessons learnt.
• Close involvement of the teachers is key in project success as they help in the beneficiaries’ career guidance and mentoring.
• Closely involve and work with the parents and or guardians of the girls.
• Close monitoring and follow up at school by project leader is key in fostering mentorship of the girls

Conclusion.
Term III begun well with all the supported students returning to school within the first week of new school term. The project leader made monitoring and mentorship meetings with the students and mentors in their respective school.
We are so thankful to global Giving and the River Fund for this support. We could not have done this without all of your help!

Mentoring meeting
Mentoring meeting

Secondary Education Support for Vulnerable Girls (Funded by Global Giving)

www.riverfund.org 

Report compiled by Aloyo Innocent Jessie, Project Leader: River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Women Association, Kitgum. 

River Fund Volunteer and Senior Woman teacher holding a mentoring meeting with beneficiaries.

The River Fund HIV/AIDs Family Support Association is a Community Based Organization (CBO) founded in 2007 by committed and motivated women to contribute towards improving the quality of life of persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, through educating and empowering the women and girls on HIV/AIDs Long Term Survival Skills and sponsorship and mentorship of girls in schools, economic empowerment and livelihood food security enhancement for a sustainable development for self-reliance through seeds provision, training in kitchen gardening and support to malnourished children through provision of trainings in provision of nutritious meals, and provision of basic items like soap, sugar, cooking oil, salt.

The organisation envisions a just and caring society where people yearn to help one another and realize that every human being is connected to one another for a change in the world with values such as: sharing, Love, Non-Discrimination, Humility, Peace, Non Violence, Justice, Inclusiveness, Service, Dedication, Honesty, Transparency, and Compassion.

Activities carried out this quarter.

  1. Career guidance provision by academic masters to the students
  2. Mentorship of the students by mentors and the project leader
  3. Provision of sanitary towels to the beneficiaries.

Achievments. 

  • Identified 21 vulnerable girls who are all benefiting from the scholarship.
  • 21 girls supported in Career guidance by the academic masters in which subjects they must concentrate on to achieve their desired careers. 
  • 21 girls supported with Sanitary towels; 3 packets each for term II.
  • Conducted follow up meetings and mentorship with 21 beneficiaries to discuss about challenges that may hinder good performance in school. 

Challenges

  • Transport to and from the project sites is yet another of the challenges being faced. River Fund does not have a reliable means of transport and hence relies majorly on hiring motorcycles to facilitate field activities.
  • The government’s move to increase taxes on almost everything that affects life in a bid to increase its resource envelop has also created some challenges as prices of items including fuel for transport have gone up creating a challenge in the budget relocations
  • Overwhelming demand since there are many girls with similar vulnerabilities that need support. 

Lessons learnt

  • Close involvement of the teachers is key to project success as they help in the beneficiaries’ career guidance and mentoring.
  • Closely involve and work with the parents and or guardians of the girls.
  • Close monitoring and follow up at school by project leader is key in fostering mentorship of the girls

Conclusion.

Term II begun well with all the supported students returning to school within the first week of new school term. The term had a lot of extra –curricular activities like sports which the students were engaged fully in despite their normal class activities. Amidst all the different engagements, the students continued with their education. The project leader made monitoring and mentorship meetings with the students and mentors in their respective school. Those in senior four class went for a study tour/field trip organized by the geography department

We are so thankful to global Giving and the Riving Fund for this support. We could not have done this without all of your help!

CASE STUDY.

“Rescued from dropping out of school”

Orphaned Victoria aged 18 years was rescued from dropping out of school after her father was killed by the rebels and mother arrested over land conflict. Her love for education and hard work earned her sponsorship under Global Giving grant from the River Fund. She emerged as one of the best students in term I exams from her school in 2015 due to mentorship and counseling support provided by the staff of the River Fund and her mentors in averting her emotional trauma and feeling of hopelessness. She has dreams of becoming a teacher after her senior four.

Attached is her full story.

Note from Jaya Canterbury-Counts:
Land conflicts are common in the Acholi Region of N Uganda. After nearly 20 years in IDP Camps, refugees returning home encountered many and ongoing land ownership conflicts. As is often the case, children suffer most.

GIRL CHILD EDUCATION

The power of a Scholarship.  

My story, my life.

I am a student of Msgr. Antoni Vignato School in Kitgum district in Uganda. I was born in 1997, on 24th Dec. My name is Victoria a student of S. 3. I did not go to a nursery school because the school was far away from our home. When I was four (4) years, I was taken to Kampala to look after the baby of my Auntie’s daughter. My mother accepted to let me go because she thought that they (my Auntie) would provide for my education. So I stayed two years without any sign of going to school let alone any discussion about my education. After two years, they got a sponsor from Europe for me. I started my P.1 to P.5 from a school in Kampala called Omega Primary School. But when my sponsor went back to their home country, she left the authority of my fees in the hands of her husband. Before leaving, she told me that the fees will be sent to my husband every school term but this was not the case. Her husband converted the use of the money for his personal gain and I had no voice since I did not have any contact as it was removed from me.

When I reached P.6, another person was paying my fees from Canada and this money was passed through my Auntie’s daughter. So the money for my school fees was shared among three more children who were studying in better schools in Kampala. When I reached P.7, my Auntie decided to bring me back to the village claiming there is no body sending money for my fees. She tried to pay my fees even after bringing me back home but stopped since she had used the money for my fees for paying her children’s fees. I was left to suffer without education. My mother being poor, old and a widow had no money to pay for my education. She grows crops and keeps animals in order to enable me stay in school. My dad died when I was still a baby and my mother is a single parent. My brothers and sisters did not go to school because of lack of money to pay for their education so they are peasants.

As the New Year was approaching, the Primary Leaving Examinations result was released and I was in division 1 with 11 Aggregate. I was filled with joy and excitement of joining secondary education although at the back of my mine I knew there was no one to support my education. My mother sold all the harvests from crops grown in order for me to join Secondary School. I wanted that at least in my family, I join secondary education since it is isolated with illiteracy and had no future and because my people –relatives thought that I would never make it.

When I joined S.1, in Second term, I was under a scholarship until S.2 term III. As I was joining S.3 this year, there were some people who were conflicting with my mother over land. But when my mother refused to give away the land belonging to my grandfather, she and my brothers were arrested and taken to prison. I had to stay at home alone since my elder sisters are all married and in their homes. I had to cope up with the situation although I would cry all the time as those who arrested my mother would constantly tell me that my mother would never be released from prison. When the term I 2015 begun, I had no hope of continuing with my education. I had made a decision to stay at home since my mother who used to struggle and pay my fees was now in prison but one of my cousin sisters advised me to go to school as I wait for my mother to be released. I did not even have any requirements to take to school and was hopeless. I neglected myself as being useless. My mother sent words from prison saying I should stay at home this year and wait to join next year 2016 may be when she is finally released from prison. This made me feel very bad and wished that I had never been born to suffer in this world. I wondered why I have never been happy even for once in my life.

I had to comfort myself with help from my relatives and friends and I decided to go back to school as a day scholar commuting from one of my Cousin’s home in town although with no much hope. When it was approaching mid -term examination, the school needed money for fees paid which money I did not have. Before this, I was picked among the best ten (10) students by the Exams master on ground that our fees would be paid. I had mixed feelings thinking that such a thing could not happen to me. The next day I was sent home together with some students who had not also paid fees. I went straight to the village although I knew there was no one at home. I continued cultivating our gardens in the absence of my mother.

After two weeks, the clan members contributed money in order to pay for my mother to be released from prison and come back home. I also sold some harvests (food stuff) that was in the granaries to add on the money. All I was wishing for was my mother coming back home and not education any more. She was bailed out (a prisoner from out) and was to continue reporting to police. This made me happy although I knew she would be taken back to prison anytime. This same week, the school was announcing on radio searching for me to go back to school. I heard my name but wondered what the school wanted with me. The head teacher and senior woman teacher were searching for me and any contact to reach me. After two days, I came back to school with my uncle who was called on phone by the head teacher to bring me back to school. On arrival, everyone was happy on seeing me and my teachers were even happier. While in office, I was told that my school fees had been paid for the whole year (term I –III).I could not believe this. I thought it was a lie but the head teacher and senior woman teacher were just laughing. It was a shock to me and the thought that I would study this year never crossed my mind till then. I was so excited to be back at school and felt I had a comforter, provider and guardian just near as I sat there in the office although I had missed the exams I consoled myself saying next time better.

With this I now have hope that my future will be bright and I trust and believe God will bless my plan of becoming a teacher. Thank you so much River Fund and all who are supporting you to reach out to people like myself! I shall forever remain indebted to this generosity.

Girls receiving sanitary towels
Girls receiving sanitary towels
Students listening attentively
Students listening attentively

Attachments:
Girl Child Education Project
Girl Child Education Project

RIVER FUND HIV/AIDS FAMILY SUPPORT WOMEN ASSOCIATION is a Community Based organization established in 2006. Its office is situated at Christ the King parish, Kitgum Town Council, Kitgum district, Uganda. It has a total membership of 30 women who have volunteered to help sensitize and restore hope to the traumatized community (orphans, child headed families, people affected with HIV/Aids) as well as improve the nutrition of malnourished children. 

Key focused areas of intervention include; Training People Living With AIDS (PLWA) on long term Survival skills, Care of malnourished children through providing food stuff, Counseling of married couples on coping with the AIDS pandemic situation in their families, Home visits of PLWA, Educating mothers on providing proper and balanced nutrition using locally available resources and Initiating livelihood and economic strengthening schemes for PLWA that do not demand too much energy and Educating the rural women and girls-providing sponsorship to secondary School going girls.

This year 2015, with support from The River Fund, the Association has managed to support 20 Secondary School going girls in their education. Activities carried out include:

1. Assessment and Identification of Girls for support.

The identification of these girls took place in February 2015 when the new school term 1 begun. The selection process involved the heads of schools. Their involvement was very important. In that the administration already had the necessary information of the neediest girls. The approach was to pick girls already enrolled in school to avoid picking girls not in school since the support is only available for one year which will mean after the one year they again drop out of school. The criteria used were based on the premise of the level of need and performance in class. Twenty students were selected from St. Bakhita Girls Secondary school and Msgr. Antonio Vingato Secondary School. All the identified students are in the boarding section for close contact and mentorship.

2. Support to the beneficiaries.

This school term, a total of twenty (20) girls were supported with fees and sanitary towels. All the students that were selected are also being mentored by teachers identified by the school administration with guidance from the River Fund office. Those in senior four further had their examination and field trip fees paid to enable them receive full package and concentrate in their last year of ordinary level studies.

Mentorship

To enable the mentorship to be successful, with the help of the school administration, two teachers per school were identified to have close interaction with the students being supported by the project. The teachers organize monthly group meeting with all the girls to enable them discuss together what possible challenges they face that may interfere with their performance and education. Some of the issues discussed include: What makes young girls think of involving themselves in teenage sexual relationship. To this, the girls had these to say.

Some parents and community members use vulgar languages, for example, you have all it takes for you to get married, are you not normal? Some parents force them get out of home especially parents who are in need of money force their girls into marriage for the sake of getting money from dowry, Some parents express being tired of providing fees, feedings, buying clothes for their girls and neglect from their parents, some do not provide basic private needs e.g. Pads, Bathing soap, Panties 

To gauge their understanding and opinions about the practice of involving in teenage sexual behavior, we asked the girls of the ways of avoiding this problem? These are their responses. Constant career guidance and mentorship to the girls by the teachers, organizing joint sessions with the parents, Periodic Visit by River Fund Volunteer to encourage the students and girls getting involved in School club activities

Lessons Learned

Mentorship is very important for the improvement in the performance of students at school because it provide an avenue for opening up by the students about the challenges they are facing that if not handled may interfere with their studies. During mentorship meetings, the teachers explore the students challenging situations and talk about it with them to find out the best way of handling the difficult situations. The problems may stem from home were the girls come and in such scenario, arrangements will be made to meet with the parents of the girls to discuss about it with aim of making the situation better.

There are students who have no one to provide their fees even when they have parents at home.A case in point is one student from Msgr. Antonio Vingato school whom the school had to call her parents to send her back to school because she had already been sent home for failure to pay fees. Some of these girls reported late to school as they have to first do some petty jobs to earn money for fees like brewing alcohol.

Challenges

The support being just for one year means the students in senior three and even those in senior four may not continue to the next level of their education.

Some girls go without the most needed basic needs like soap, toothpaste because their parents cannot provide for them. This has made them to always depend on friends at school.

Recommendations

Organize meetings with the parents of the girls to advise them to save money this year for their children’s studies in case no more funding is received to support the girls.

Discussing with parents about their responsibilities towards the studies and wellbeing of their children - especially girl children.

 

 

Teacher and girls during group mentorship
Teacher and girls during group mentorship
 

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Organization Information

The River Fund

Location: Sebastian, Florida - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.riverfund.org
Project Leader:
Joseph Onyango
Executive Director
Kampala, Uganda

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