The Budaka Project for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
By Dr Ellen Kraly, Uganda Project Coordinator
Under a clear blue Ugandan sky in January, Wakabo Yusuf, Chairperson of Iki-Iki AIDS Community Initiative delivered welcome and greetings to the leaders of Budaka community-based organisations (CBOs) and visitors from indigo foundation. He described the challenges of the Budaka community most eloquently by considering larger Africa:
‘That Africa is bringing children into the world is not the challenge; nurturing those children is the challenge.’
Yusuf described the issues confronting vulnerable children and orphans and the challenges of poverty. He thanked indigo foundation for its support for Uganda, and emphasised that the key to success in supporting children is through education.
The Budaka Project for Orphans and Vulnerable Children promotes the education, health, welfare and rights of vulnerable children and youth, particularly those children and youth made vulnerable as a result of HIV/AIDS in the Budaka region of eastern Uganda. The project supports six small community-based organisations.
The mission and strengths of each organisation include goals to (i) support the educational engagement of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC beneficiaries); (ii) encourage health education concerning HIV/AIDS in schools and communities of orphans and vulnerable children; (iii) increase sensitization and reduce stigma within the community concerning HIV/AIDS; (iv) to promote sustainable livelihoods with households of beneficiaries; (v) foster leadership and administrative capacity of the community based organisations partnering with us; and (vi) promote leadership and empowerment of OVC youth in the Budaka region of eastern Uganda.
The organisations participating in the Budaka project are Gaalimagi AIDS and Grieving Orphans; Iki lki AIDS Community Group (IACI); Kakule AIDS and Grieving Families Association (KAGA), Manaku-Kaama, NACOMAS, and Trinity Childcare.
Each organisation is distinctive in its strategy to support vulnerable children and youth in the region, but all give focus to education, health, and human rights. Each has its own ways of working and its own culture of governance.
Each also has remarkable leaders – inspirational women and men who are fully centered on the mission of the organisation to serve the welfare and well-being of children and youth.
Over the past several years, we have supported the work of these organisations to implement their distinguishing programs. During 2015-16, the scope of support has been expanded to promote collaboration to realise a broader, more regional vision to support vulnerable children and youth. In coming together for regular dialogue, the CBOs are working to identify root causes of persistent risk and vulnerability, particularly as children grow out – and too often drop-out of the school system.
This past January, with our support the CBOs met to develop ideas around a shared program which would operate at a regional scale – that is, working across the many communities that exist within the Budaka region. An initial subcommittee was formed and from there lively discussion ensued. It was an exciting process to watch unfold. Joy (Katooko Joyce, our Project Liasion Officer in Budaka) described the importance of both women and men leaders participating in the process and also the value of having persons with skills in budget development and financial oversight. The degree of collegiality and humour during the discussion of the committee composition was wonderful. In the end, the subcommittee consisted of two delegates from each of the organisations with near equal representation of men and women leaders.
The Budaka Project is poised to expand its impact in promoting the well-being of children and youth, and in so doing changing lives, and the trajectories of those lives. The CBOs will maintain their strategic response to their respective communities. And with our partnership which provides support for planning and resources, they will begin to provoke positive change at the regional scale as they recognise the creativity and value added of cooperation and collaboration.