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Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH

by Arlington Academy of Hope, Inc.
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Empowering Youth in Rural Uganda with AAH
Food distribution for community outreach
Food distribution for community outreach

With the onset of the pandemic, our focus has expanded to not only helping students recieve education, but ensuring they are able to access learning in their homes. We are please to provide the following updates since the pandemic swept the world of how our community in Uganda is managing through this crisis. Without continued support, we would not be able to ensure ongoing education for our students.

AAH staff have independently started radio shows, which is accessed by the community. The President’s district representative was invited to speak about ways to stay safe, and he also spoke about the importance of safety for women and girls. The radio show has also addressed gender-based violence, and poverty. Community members have expressed their appreciation for the radio show.

Schools: AAH Uganda has taken a strong lead in ensuring students are still able to learn and have access to their teachers and mentors.

  • Secondary school students were provided with a month’s worth of school work. With the lockdown extended, many schools are sending additional work to their students through their parents’ phones, and confirming receipt. If there is an issue with receiving the work, the schools are working to get the material to the students.
  • AAH has made copies of the lessons provided by the government and delivered them either to student homes, or to the nearest pickup point.
  • AJS provides class work and tests to upper primary students. Every two days, the students complete their work and it is picked up, then replaced with additional work. 
  • The University Coordinator has created a WhatsApp group for older students, so they can communicate with each other. Work is also shared in the app.
  • The Coordinators for University, Girls’ Programming, and Secondary School Coordinator have made calls to parents to touch base with students and ensure they are safe. Calls increased since the shutdown has been extended.  

Clinics: Our two clinics remain open. Health facilities and the entire country have been focused on curative rather than preventive measures, but is now prioritizing preventive measures by educating about hand washing and other practices to ensure safety.

Staff: AAH staff are still working and coordinating with students. Because student tuition is paid by parents via wire transfers, this ensures a steady flow of cash, which allows for almost all staff salaries to be made via wire transfers, so staff can be paid quickly and efficiently. 

Community Outreach

  • AAH will be providing food to the most needy children. These children are already identified, teachers and community members will identify others. 
  • AAH will provide food to the most vulnerable members of the community, including patients on HIV and diabetes,  orphans, and the elderly.

Looking to the Future

Our Team in Uganda has taken a critical look at current operations and made recommendations to enhance access, to ensure that beyond a pandemic, AAH can respond rapidly and safely to any issues the school may face. These include developing digital platform service for operations as well as e-learning and distance learning, enhancing solar lighting, transportation resources, food security, and enhancing health practices such as hand washing.

 We have provided funding to move forward with the solar energy project. This project will provide solar lighting for the Arlington Junior School, the library as well as both of our health clinics. 

Food distribution
Food distribution
Food distribution
Food distribution
food distribution
food distribution
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AAH Graduates
AAH Graduates

Beyond celebrating AAH’s 15 years of commitment to empower youth through education in rural Uganda, we had many more reasons to celebrate the impact of our organization. We are glad to report that for the first time in the history of Arlington Academy of Hope, our primary students have scored 8 out of a possible 8 and total of 10 out of 10 subjects. In addition, Uganda’s Primary Leaving Examinations results showed that 142 students passing in Division 1, placing Bududa District in the top among the 6 rural districts of the Eastern Region. Each of the top 10 schools in Bududa was an AAH Outreach partner school.

But perhaps the biggest symbol of change was the number of graduates who had completed university or trade school. Before AAH began working in Bududa and Namisindwa, there was just a handful of graduates each year. Now, on this 15th anniversary, AAH was showcasing its 156 students who had completed University or Vocational schools, with many of them working and helping bring new change to their communities. 

We are continuing to support students in our schools. This past year, our Junior school enrollment was 400 (an increase of 50 students from 2018), with 215 (53%) of these students being girls, and the remaining 185 (47%) boys. In the Secondary program, a total of 379 students were enrolled, with 179 (51%) being girls, and the remaining 170 (49%) boys. To continue to support girls mentorship and empowerment, three major programs were established: a girls’ cycles in secondary schools, workshops with our She’s the First partners in Narobi, and sanitary pad distribution.

We continue to be inspired by our students and teachers, and continue to find new ways to support the important work they are doing.

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After starting the Arlington Junior School and watching it provide quality education to rural children in Eastern Uganda for more than 15 years, the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH) was frustrated that it could help only 50 new students per year.  Annually we received more than 400 applications for the 50 school slots.  We decided to help students in surrounding government schools with a ten point program for improving their educational offering and general condition of the schools.  AAH collected funding for schoolroom supplies, subsidized lunches and primary leaving exam preparation.  We were fortunate to partner with Marymount University in Arlington to provide teacher training for the teachers.  For several schools we were able to build new classrooms, kitchens and latrines and upgrade the schools' physical plants.  The assisted schools had to meet certain requirements to qulaify for the aid.  They must have an agreement from the parents that all the students will attend school 100% of the time.  The teachers must commit to 100% attendance.  English must be taught in every grade starting with Primary 1.  The parents must commit to provide a lunch for the students to the degree they can (AAH will subsidize the balance.)

We now assist 24 schools affecting close to 20,000 kids.  We are beginning to see that the primary leaving exam scores for these schools are rising.  Every school has improved, and a couple of schools have scores that are superior to Arlington Junior School!  One school's scores moved up 70% in the second year in the program.

As a whole, the schools in Bududa, Manafwa and Namasindwa Districts have now begun to move up in their annual primary school national standings.  We are very pleased with the results so far.

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Teen volunteers introduce Blast Off to Learning!
Teen volunteers introduce Blast Off to Learning!

Now in its 15th year, the Arlington Academy of Hope's Reading Challenge continues to nurture a transformative culture of reading in the students of the Arlington Junior School in Uganda. With this initiative, and the ongoing encouragement of the outstanding teachers at AJS, we are inspiring our students to become life-long learners.

According to Head Teacher Sarah Sabano:

Students have found pleasure in reading books because they are fun to read. Books help them to learn                                 more vocabulary, get new friends and stop boredom. This year’s theme is Blast off to Learning. Everyone is excited              to read more and more books.

On the day of the reading challenge launch, our students participated in numerous activities: naming the planets,              reciting proverbs and poems, singing songs, and even staging a talk show based on the reading challenge. They                  had fun competitions a book search, word puzzle, spelling bee, tongue twisters, dictionary use, skits, arranging                    words to make sentences and other fun activities.

The Reading Challenge is yet another wonderful example of how The Arlington Academy of Hope welcomes the hearts and hands of our beloved volunteers. The program was introduced to AAH by founding board member Holly Hawthorne, principal of The Arlington Traditional School here in the U.S. Former ATS teachers Lorraine Gandy and Lois Grubb have been graciously donating their time and resources for years, authoring and printing original content for the reading challenge activity books each year. Cynthia Margeson - also a former ATS teacher and one of the first Head Teachers for our primary school in Uganda - has been intimately involved in the Reading Challenge from the beginning. This year Cynthia orchestrated a used book sale to raise money for Uganda-bound books.

And finally, this summer's Reading Challenge was successful due in large part to the enthusiastic participation of this year's Teen Trip cohort. This dynamic group of 14 young adults, the largest group of teen travelers to date, traveled from the US to Uganda and spent more than two weeks teaching in classrooms, volunteering in clinics, visiting students and their families, and helping to spread the love of reading to yet another generation of life-long learners.

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The Beatrice Tierney clinics were established in 2008 to serve the students at the Arlington Academy of Hope, a well-established school and scholarship program in eastern Uganda. Quickly the clinics became the main source of primary health care in two communities serving over 20,000 patients each year.

In addition to the daily load of patients, one clinic has a maternal and child health unit that serves women and babies. It delivers over 300 babies each year. The other clinic provides treatment and support for over 70 HIV+ adults and children. 

The clinic nurses regularly visit Arlington Academy of Hope school and schools in the surrounding communities to administer immunizations, Vitamin A and deworming medicines to keep the children healthy and focused on school. The clinics also meet the special needs of students, e.g., fitting a prosthetic arm and leg for a young boy; providing special glasses and skin creams for albino children; and addressing the health needs of handicapped children who survived severe landslides in this mountainous area.

 Does it have an impact on their academic achievement? For the past 15 years, 100% of the AJS students pass their national primary leaving exams in a district where the average pass rate is 12%. The young man with the prosthetics and the albino students attend the school.

           The clinics provide an extra bonus to the community: employment. At present, we have 4 nurses, a laboratory technician and a midwife who are graduates of the Arlington Academy of Hope and are working at our two clinics. The clinics also engages community outreach workers to provide health information to families in their homes and through group meetings.

 The clinics support the community in so many ways: improved health of the students and their families, care for special needs children, healthier and stronger learners through better health care and preventive services and employment for students who have risen through the education system and have returned to their communities.

Happy 10th Anniversary to our amazing clinics!

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Organization Information

Arlington Academy of Hope, Inc.

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AAHUganda
Project Leader:
Arlington Academy of Hope
Executive Director
Arlington, VA Uganda
$453,102 raised of $521,526 goal
 
1,434 donations
$68,424 to go
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