Uganda: Budaka


Orphans and vulnerable children project, Budaka

Project established: 2009

indigo foundation partners with six small but highly effective community-based organisations (CBOs) in Mt. Elgon region in Uganda to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for over 2,000 at-risk children and young people, all poor, many orphaned and many HIV-positive.

The project over the next 12 months will support:

1.    Education: provision of educational supplies, including books, pens and uniforms to 2,100 vulnerable children.

While primary education is free in Uganda, many disadvantaged children are excluded because they lack basic school materials. indigo foundation works with the CBO’s, who work with schools, to track the children’s attendance at school and support their progress through psychosocial support.

2.    Counseling: counseling training for CBO’s and school teachers on how to support vulnerable children and in particular those grieving or traumatised through HIV.

3.    Training and income generation: support training in vocational skills (such as sewing, knitting and baking) and ongoing funding for successful pilot initiatives established with indigo foundation support including:
•    a sewing training school for women widowed by HIV;
•    a livestock ‘bank’ with chickens, pigs and goats that increase food security; and
•    distribution of improved strains of cassava and peanuts resulting in increased agricultural production.

These activities combined will provide a pathway for children to access education, and become confident and contributing members of their community. The investment in schemes for production and income generation, and the vocational skills of older adolescents serves to foster well-being and community sustainability.

previous activities

Since the project was initiated in 2009, each of our partner organisations have chosen to spend much of the funds on school materials such as uniforms, pens and exercise books, to assist orphaned children to attend school.

In addition to providing school materials, our partner organisations have also previously used indigo foundation support to:

  • Buy chickens and piglets, which were raised and bred, giving struggling families young animals from the offspring.
  • KAGA purchased a sewing machine and trained women widowed by AIDS to sew uniforms for children supported by the group, as well other tailoring work to generate income.
  • Hold 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 HIV training, our partner 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 has seen Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia face 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 for successive seasons.

For this reason our partners decided to allocate the funding for the purchase of new seedlings.

school partnerships

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. 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. In previous years, these 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 Budaka schools involved in this partnership 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.

about our partner organisations

In Budaka we work with six small grassroots organisation – all of which were initiated and run by the local community and all of which do an amazing job for vulnerable orphans and families with very few resources.

Galimaagi AIDS and Grieving Orphans
The original programs of Galimaagi AIDS and Grieving Orphans have grown well beyond the provision of scholastic materials to include school uniforms, food security projects (cassava, livestock and field cultivation with two oxen and the plough), music, dance and drama, and the most recent project, vocational training (tailoring and sewing). The members of Galimaagi work closely with the school headmasters to identify the special needs of HIV orphans and vulnerable children.  School leaving among youth is a particular concern of the leaders of Galimaagi.

Iki Iki AIDS Community Initiative (IACI)
Located in the region with the highest number and rate of HIV cases, Iki Iki  AIDS Community Initiative  (IACI) serves a large and growing population of orphans and vulnerable children.  Thirty five members of IACI are trained in HIV counselling and treatment and the organization is recognized in the region as leader in HIV awareness and support.  In addition to the provision of scholastic materials, IACI promotes food security among beneficiary households, works closely with families and teachers, and involves children and youth in music and dramatic performance to communicate healthy living and the reduction of the stigma of HIV AIDS in the community.

Kakule  HIV/AIDS and Grieved AIDS Families Association (KAGA)
Over the past four years, in partnership with if KAGA has promoted scholastic achievement orphans and vulnerable children as well as skill development among youth.  Training in sewing and tailoring is provided to youth as a safety skill in the circumstance that students might leave school. KAGA members have received training to counsel HIV+ children, and continue to move from household to household to encourage HCT and positive living.  Home visits and working with teachers are also consider critical elements of promoting education among OVC in the community. KAGA also supports the schools through the provision of textbooks.

Manuka-Kaama Community Development Initiatives
Manuka-Kaama Community Development Initiatives was formed in 2004 and has recently become a partner of indigo foundation.  The organization works to support the scholastic success of orphans and vulnerable children whose families are challenged by the long distances to government schools in the community.  Manuka-Kaama has responded by taking the initiative to build a nursery and primary school more promixate to households of OVC and youth and will also provide vocational training for mothers and caretakers.  Manuka-Kaama has also established a “HIV prevention forest” to allow women and girls to collect firewood closer to their homes.

NACOMAS Community Action for Social Development
NACOMAS Community Action for Social Development was the first organization in Budaka with which indigo foundation partnered.  The mission of NACOMAS is to empower members and to promote sustainable social, economic change in the community.  Education of children and youth is a key strategy.  The organization also recognizes a need to provide a counter balance to the urban health problems originating in Mbale and exposure of youth to HIV in particular. NACOMAS promotes environmental awareness and has encouraged the community to plant trees for firewood, engage in sustainable farming practices, and to enrich the environment. There is an emphasis on gender equity and has sought to support the adoption of sanitary napkins among girls and to create time and space for girls to discuss these changes in themselves.

Trinity Childcare Ministry
Formed in 2000 by former teachers, Trinity Childcare Ministry understands that the welfare of vulnerable children is enhanced through supplemental support for their educational performance as well as access to health care and counselling.  The leaders of Trinity Childcare Ministry Trinity Childcare Ministry are also committed to providing places of play, listening and refreshment for child living in difficult circumstances, and creating pathways towards building self esteem through academic success and skill development.  Enrichment activities for children and youth every Sunday afternoon and given the demand will expand to Saturdays. The vision of Trinity includes expanding opportunities for vocational training of youth throughout the Budaka region.

future plans for the project

In 2015 we will sign a new three year commitment agreement with each of our partner organisations. This will give 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.

Over the first half of 2015, our partner organisations will come together for joint planning and priority-setting. They will work through a list of priorities identified in community consultations, and discuss challenges that have arisen this year

Orphans: registration and participation

With the disbursement of funds and the purchase and distribution of scholastic materials, a simple registration form has been developed which enables 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

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 indigo foundation are looking forward to our next commitment period in the Budaka project.

Project Coordinator: Dr Ellen Kraly

In-country liaison officer: Katooko Joyce

Board representative: Sally Stevenson