by Mercy, a youth enrolled in ChildFund International’s Uganda programs
Over the course of January’s 31 days, we’re making a blog stop in each country where we serve children, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Today. a youth in our Uganda programs describes her home.
My name is Mercy, and I am a Muganda girl — a member of Baganda ethnic group. I live and go to school in Uganda’s Kampala District, in the Rubaga Divison. The neighbouring areas are Kasubi, Namungoona and Makerere.
I live in the city and the main business here is trading. We have many small shops that we call “duukas.” They sell all sorts of things like rice, sugar, posho [maize], biscuits … many things. We also have people who sell things by the roadside like Irish potatoes, bananas, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. There are many cars that pass by.
My community is part of the Baganda Kingdom, which is a principality of Uganda. We have a king called Muwenda Mutebi II and a queen called Sylvia Nagginda. She is very nice. We also have a princess called Ssangalyambogo. She has won many swimming medals, yet she is a young girl.
The king has many palaces but the main one is the Lubiri. He also has an office in a place called Bulange. It is big and has many rooms. My uncle took me there one day.
When there are important functions in Buganda, the king attends. Every year we have a big celebration on the king’s birthday. We have regalia like drums and spears. We used to have royal tombs where our passed kings were buried, but they were burned last year. That day I cried very much.
In Uganda, we have many clans like the Elephant clan, the Grasshopper clan, the Lion clan, the Edible Rat clan. I can’t remember the rest of the clans but there are more than 50. Each clan has a leader. My mother told me that someone cannot marry another person from their clan.
by Cate, a sponsored child in Kiboga Area, Uganda
Inspired by the card she recently received from her sponsor, Cate penned this poem.
All of us were born to celebrate our birthdays,
But there is one birthday that we all celebrate,
That one of Jesus Christ
Oh, how good it feels to celebrate Christmas.
Gifts of love we receive from our loved ones,
Christmas cards and beautiful messages
from friends and family.
Every year as a must I receive a very special Christmas card,
Before December 25th I receive my special card,
From that one person who never forgets me.
It is always has beautiful designs and lovely messages
And it brings me so much joy
It is from my sponsor.
Every year I wait and wait with open arms,
For that Xmas card that shows me that,
My sponsor David cares about me,
And even when my family doesn’t give me a card,
I really never mind because I know
My sponsor will send me a card.
Reporting by ChildFund Uganda
Jesca ate better this year. The eight-year-old, who lives in Uganda’s Busia, Buyengo community, had suffered from malnutrition. But she began to flourish after her family received maize seeds from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog.
The family of nine – Jesca has four brothers and two sisters – had been scraping by. The father and mother struggled as subsistence farmers, barely growing enough to eat.
Jesca’s mother couldn’t stop smiling as she looked at the maize she had been given to plant. “This is the beginning of my new life,” she remarked. Jesca was also happy since her mother kept telling her that the maize had been given to the family because of her enrollment in ChildFund’s programs.
In addition to providing the seed, ChildFund also trained the family in modern farming techniques to increase crop yield. So not only is this gift improving the children’s nutrition, the additional outputs are also boosting the family’s income, as they now have surplus maize to sell.
With the initial proceeds Jesca’s parents have bought other seeds, including ground nuts (peanuts) and eggplant. And, for the first time, they’re been able to acquire other basic necessities like salt, sugar and soap as well as books and school uniforms for Jesca and her siblings.
“I would like to wear good clothes and shoes, eat good food and sleep on a soft bed like the children of the rich men in our village,” Jesca confided, pointing to her bed made of reeds. “I would also like to speak good English like teacher.” She dreams of one day working in the medical field.
That dream doesn’t seem as far away as it did last year. Jesca’s parents have attended additional ChildFund training sessions to learn how to improve their family savings and to plan better for the future. It’s been a remarkable year of improvements in health, education and livelihood prospects. And it all began with a simple gift of seeds.
Will you help change another child’s life?
Guest post by Ivan, a child enrolled in ChildFund’s Uganda programs
I live in the Yelekeni community in Uganda’s Masindi area. I am 11 and in form six at school.
My community is found in the mid-western part of Uganda. Our area is blessed with a good climate that favours agriculture so much that we have two growing seasons in a year. The most stable foods are beans and maize.
By culture, I am Acholi, and being a boy we spend most of our time hunting for wild animals during dry season and making evening fire for the elders. Girls are responsible for collecting firewood, cooking and grinding grains, using our local grinding stones.
During birth, according to my culture, baby boys spend three days in the house and girls spend four without being brought out. On the day of bringing the baby out, a small party is held for naming the baby. The name is given by the elders.
During burials, men are not seen to be crying. And it is men who participate mostly in the burial exercise. During marriage, it is the men who take the dowry to the bridegroom’s family.
For a child in my community, one has to wake up and groom in the morning, sweep the compound, brush your teeth, wash your face and dress up for school. During weekends and holidays, we wake up at 6 a.m., go to the garden to either dig, weed or harvest crops, then come home at 2 p.m. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., we play football.
Some families have just one meal in a day, which is in the evening.
At 7 p.m., we bathe and then go to sleep.
Thanks so much for sharing with you my story, and greetings from Masindi area.
Interview by Henry Bazibu, Sponsor Relations Officer, ChildFund Uganda
My name is Grace Mwagale. I am 33 years old. I work as a records officer at a government hospital in Uganda and earn a salary, which helps me provide for my family of three. I feel very proud that my children sleep on a bed, have three meals a day and have decent clothes to wear. Since I work at the hospital, I can also afford medical services for them.
I come from a poor background, and being an orphan from a young age only made my situation worse. I grew up in Lukone village near the St. Mulumba Family Helper project, which was affiliated with ChildFund.
Before I was sponsored, I stayed in a grass-thatched, pole-and-mud house with my siblings, and slept on papyrus reeds for a mattress. I wore no shoes and my dresses were tattered. I had no scholastic materials and didn’t like school much because I felt inferior to the other children. Most of them laughed at my tattered clothes and my little heart was in pain. I started receiving sponsorship in 1984 when I was seven years old.
While I was a sponsored child, I received counseling from social workers, which helped to build my self-esteem. In addition, I received school fees and gifts, and my family received cows and goats for rearing.
The animals multiplied and we sold some and used the proceeds to construct a small permanent house. Living in a permanent house felt so good. We were not worried any more that rain would fall through the roof and ruin our few earthly possessions, and we stopped counting the stars in the sky through the holes in the grass-thatched roof. It really felt great. I felt challenged to read hard and pass my exams, and never to let down my sponsors who had given me so much.
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Procter & Gamble, developer of the PUR water filtration system, has partnered with ChildFund to provide a year’s worth of PUR water purification sachets to 1,000 households in Uganda’s Luwero district.
The distribution of PUR sachets (365 per household) and water purification sets will provide safe drinking water to families living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, ChildFund, working through trained community health volunteers, will educate families on the importance of proper hygiene, steps they can take to prevent diarrhea and how to recognize the danger signs of diarrhea that require prompt medical attention.
Approximately 1,000 households (5,000 to 6,000 people) living with HIV/AIDS will now have a reliable source of clean water. The PUR water filtration system, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a simple means of purifying dirty water in an affordable and convenient way.
Greg Allgood, with Procter & Gamble, recently visited the ChildFund community in Uganda, providing this firsthand blog.
Nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes hardship, disease and death.
The impact on children is particularly tragic. Each year 1.4 million die as a result of diarrhea, according to the World Health Organization. Most cases of diarrhea are attributable to polluted water and poor sanitation.
In 2009, ChildFund Zambia pilot tested the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Improvement Training Package for the Prevention of Diarrheal Disease” developed by USAID. The goal was to get more field staff up to speed on
“The WASH program is classic evidence-based best practice that we want our projects to adopt and use worldwide,” says David Shanklin, senior health specialist for ChildFund.
When applied in school settings, WASH interventions—including gender-specific sanitation facilities, hygiene education and safe drinking water—support child health, which furthers educational access and attainment.
The way up and out of poverty can begin with a reliable source of clean water, good hygiene and sanitation. It’s a powerful concept and worthy of our ongoing support so that children can thrive.
Every year, a unique cattle roundup takes place in Soroti, Uganda. But instead of an auction, there is a community celebration of sharing a valuable resource with those less fortunate.
Partners for Children Worldwide, the ChildFund-supported federation in the Teso Subregion, works with the Acowa community to provide heifers to families of orphaned and HIV/AIDS-affected children. Since 1997, community members have shared 816 head of cattle with those most in need.
This year, 27 families received heifers, which provide nutritional milk for the family and manure to improve agricultural yields. Surplus crops mean extra income for families who have been struggling to survive. Owning a heifer is the fulfillment of a long-held wish for food and income security.
As a result of the heifer-sharing program, household incomes in the Acowa Community are gradually increasing. The Cattle Dispersal Committee is working to reach more families every year. As milk production increases, the committee envisions forming a community co-op to market and sell surplus milk to other communities.
More than 1 billion people in 190 countries are participating in activities to mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day today and this week.
Those living with the fewest personal resources in developing nations often bear the brunt of environmental disruptions — severe drought, water scarcity, extreme flooding, erosion and food shortages.
The natural environment faces many challenges, yet it is the cumulative effect of many small efforts by individuals and organizations that adds up to larger progress to sustain the planet and its people.
Here are four positive things we’re doing through ChildFund:
> Solar panels at the Kokwa Island school in Kenya: This girl’s boarding school in the Lake Baringo community has installed four solar panels to deliver electricity to eight classrooms, two dormitories, a staff room, kitchen and dining hall. By harnessing the sun, “children are now able to have longer study periods in the evenings, between 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and again in the early morning hours, between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.,” reports Jackie Mollel of ChildFund Kenya.
> Eco-friendly stoves in Uganda: Confronting severe poverty often means thinking creatively while keeping the environment in mind. The introduction of energy-saving stoves in Uganda’s Wattuga Subcounty is creating manufacturing jobs, and it’s changing cooking practices. Families in Wattuga have typically cooked on open fires, using considerable amounts of firewood. The eco-friendly stoves hold heat, reducing the amount of wood needed to cook, and they produce less smoke than an open fire.
> Tree planting in Kenya: The widespread cutting of trees for fuel and construction is a leading cause of environmental degradation in eastern Africa. ChildFund Kenya has launched a major tree-planting initiative involving children, youth and communities in reforestation. For example, the Wamunyu Breakthrough Youth Group has started a tree nursery, growing and then selling tree seedlings. Proceeds from the tree nursery have helped fund the group’s efforts to address unemployment issues among youth through vocational skills training programs.
> Growing food locally in Guatemala: A collaboration between ChildFund and the Family Parents Association of Kajih-Jel of Tecpan, Guatemala, is producing a bounty of tomatoes through efficient growing techniques. Bypassing costly traditional greenhouse structures, ChildFund and Family Parents Association opted for an alternative method known as the “macro tunnel.” Shallow dirt canals are dug into the soil to use as walkways, and slopes between the canals act as elevated planting beds. The tunnels are then covered with a tarp in the same dome-style fashion as larger greenhouses. Not only are the tunnels more cost efficient in technique, they also yield a better harvest for tomatoes based on climate and weather conditions.