Orphans and Vulnerable Children project, Budaka
(project established: 2009)
The past year has been one of growth and learning in the Uganda project. Initiated in 2009, the project aims to improve the health, wellbeing and life outcomes of orphans and vulnerable children in Budaka, Eastern Uganda, by strengthening and supporting the capacity of families and communities to protect and care for their children. We do this by partnering with four local organisations who each provide support to people affected by HIV and AIDS in clusters of villages across Budaka District. We also engage with schools in each of these areas, and with local government.
Early this year we signed a three year commitment agreement with each of our partner organisations. This has given Gaalimagi, the IkiIki AIDS Community Initiative, the Kakule AIDS and Grieved Families Association (KAGA) and NACOMAS the confidence and support to develop plans and budgets to assist their communities.
As in previous years, each organisation has chosen to spend much of the funds on materials such as uniforms, pens and exercise books, to assist orphaned children to attend school. In 2011, three of the groups have also used the funds to buy chickens and/or piglets; these will be raised and bred, and struggling families will receive young animals from the offspring. KAGA has purchased a sewing machine and will train women widowed by AIDS to sew uniforms for children supported by the group, as well other tailoring work to generate income.
In May – June 2011 Ian Seal our project manager and Libby House undertook a support visit to Budaka. During this time, our four partner organisations came together for joint planning and priority-setting. They worked through a list of priorities identified in community consultations in 2010, as well as discussing new challenges that have arisen this year and resolved to work together on key priorities that affected all their communities.
Favourable exchange rates and good budgeting by our partners provided funding for five days of joint training on HIV testing and counselling, including a day with a specific focus on children and youth. Thirty volunteers participated in five days of the training, and all evaluated the training very positively. Two of the groups have already developed comprehensive plans for extending HIV testing and counselling across their communities.
After the success of the training, the four organisations resolved to spend the remainder of funds on governance training. However, in consultation with the broader community it became clear that there was widespread concern over the possibility of food shortages over coming months. Eastern Uganda is influenced by the same weather system that is seeing Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia facing severe drought and famine, and the families in Budaka who rely solely on what they can grow themselves to survive have lost many of the seedlings planted earlier this year.
For this reason our partners decided to allocate the funding for the purchase of new seedlings. One of the groups is planning to plant some of these on a trial plot donated by local government. This will act as a teaching field for children from child headed households.
There is widespread recognition across Budaka that education is a key to providing orphans and vulnerable children with future opportunity. Primary education has been free for Ugandan children for some years and universal secondary education was introduced in 2007. However, in Uganda, as in many other developing nations, the dramatic increase in the numbers of children attending school has not been met by a commensurate increase in funding to schools particularly in rural areas.
Schools in Budaka operate in overcrowded classrooms, with no text books or other learning resources, no electricity and teachers who are poorly supported and poorly compensated. This year, indigo foundation has assisted four schools in Budaka establish partnerships with four schools in Melbourne. Students in each country learn about the lives of children in another country, and exchange posters, drawings and stories. The Australian schools raise funds to support their Ugandan peers. This year, those funds purchased a range of text books, atlases and dictionaries; scholastic materials for students unable to purchase their own; posters and wall charts; coloured pencils and crayons; and soccer balls and net balls.
The schools chosen for these partnerships were selected by our partner organisations in recognition of the large number of orphans and vulnerable children each of these schools is supporting. The organisations and schools have pledged to work together to track the progress of the most vulnerable children and ensure that they are supported to remain at school.
Orphans: registration and participation
With the disbursement of funds and the purchase and distribution of scholastic materials in June 2011, a simple registration form was developed which will enable the groups to monitor the health and progress of each of the children they support. This will assist us all to better understand the needs of these vulnerable children, but there is also growing recognition in Budaka that children and young people need opportunities to participate actively in decisions made on their behalf.
Each group has been encouraged to assist the development of youth-led programs in 2011-12, and one has already developed a proposal based on youth consultation undertaken this year with the children who participated in our orphan peer support program in 2010.
Overall, the growing confidence of our partner organisations, their willingness to work together and with local schools and the inclusion of youth-led activities in their programs mean that 2011-12 will be another exciting year in the Budaka project.
|Project Manager||Ian Seal|
|Liason Officer||Joy Katooko|
|Management Committee Representative||Sally Stevenson|
|Contact for more firstname.lastname@example.org|