Why Uganda ?
For our first project we decided on a mission in Uganda, a country sadly famous for its numerous civils wars the last of which was especially bloody (100 000 dead) lead by the rebel group of Joseph Kony, the LRA. This war involved the enrolment of many child soldiers (we believe 35 000 to 60 000), and also led to displaced people (almost 2 million), atrocities, sexual violence, mutilations, etc. In 2006, the LRA rebels and the government signed an armistice bringing an end to hostilities. Despite the obvious need to support a country ravaged by 20 years of civil war, the large international NGOs went home. Local associations took up the work, often with considerable professionalism. Unfortunately, the funds available are totally insufficient and whilst there has been a net reduction in poverty in Uganda, living conditions remain catastrophic in the Northern provinces. In all honesty we never expected to meet so many victims of war during our mission. Some say that one person in four in the Gulu district is a former rebel. In addition, Uganda is a partner country in the General Management of the Development and Humanitarian Aid cooperation (DHA)
The four programs
Two medical centres (Agonga & Unyama) specialising in maternity and infant care address the needs of the most underprivileged: general healthcare, vaccinations, laboratory testing, HIV/AIDS screening, psycho-social consultations, care for infectious illnesses (malaria, tuberculosis, etc.), pre and post-natal care, births, etc.
We met 21 year old Debra, pregnant with her first child. While she was undergoing tests for malaria, Debra was urgently looking for toilets. But labour had begun. Seeing that she was very weak, the centre’s nurse suggested she sit on a bench and gave her a basin. Just a few moments after sitting down, she started experiencing labour the young woman and gave birth to a baby boy, with the help of our nurse. Her challenge: to give birth with dignity, with access to pre and post-natal care and healthcare for herself and her children.
The idea is to give a family a cow and suitable training. Through sales of cow’s milk, a family can diversify its nutrition, educate its children, obtain access to healthcare and even save money!
We met 28 year old Nighty, who has been in this programme since 2012, has 3 children, is a war orphan and was internally displaced. Owner of 2 cows, 1 bull and 2 calves. Her challenge: to support her family’s needs by giving her children the best: varied diet, education, access to healthcare and savings. Increasing the number of head of cattle.
Micro-loans (between €27 and €135) are granted to women to enable them to launch an income-earning activity and improve their standard of living, as well as that of their family. Training includes professional training (artisan, agriculture, etc.) entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, economic culture and literacy classes.
We met 67 year old Grace, a farmer, 10 children (5 of which are fostered orphans). Two of her children were kidnapped and enrolled by the rebel Group of the LRA. Her challenge: to support the needs of her large family: feed them, vary their diet, have access to healthcare, provide professional training for her children and send the youngest to school.
The most vulnerable children (children of former child soldiers, very young mothers and orphans who have become heads of households) are partially supported (school equipment, access to medical centres, etc.) or fully supported (monthly payments including study grants, medication and transport, etc.). These children, who have dropped out of school, also get together weekly (drawing, theatre, role-playing) in order to recreate a social connection.
We met Francis, 16 years old, educated to age 11. Orphaned (both parents were child soldiers), he became head of his household two years ago and today is the sole carer for his little brother and sister. Lacking income, his education has ended permanently.
His challenge: to feed his family, go to school every day and also give his siblings access to education for a better future.
Our partner : Karin Community Initiatives Uganda
Karin Community Initiatives Uganda (formerly Childcare) was born in 2001. Childcare is registered as an NGO but works as a CBO (Community-based organisation) in the Northern part of Uganda, more precisely in the district of Gulu.
We fell in love : dedicated, professionnal, self-critical and profoundly human.
We have had the chance to meet the beneficiairies of the programs and see that the work on the field is amazing and indispensable, an incredible team and in the end improved life conditions.
But Childcare can't work on everything, namely fundraising. Therefore we are very enthousiastic to give a hand in that field.
To be honsest, we did not expect to meet so many victims of war during our mission. One may say that one person out of four is an ex-rebel in the district of Gulu. And absolutely ALL the beneficiairies.