As the world celebrates International Day of the Girl Child today, 11 October, I count myself lucky and at the same time privileged, that am part of the Act4Africa Grow A Girl programme, which has given me the opportunity to be in school till this present day. It is an opportunity that has shaped me into the person I am today and as well as shaping me towards my career aspirations.
I live in a community where brewing alcohol and working in the sugar plantations are the main source of livelihood for most families. Coupled with community stereo-types regarding girl education as a waste of money and time, this greatly affected my hopes and belief in whether I would ever study further beyond primary level.
I am privileged to be in school. This has greatly reduced my vulnerability to early pregnancy, HIV infection, and alcoholism; as is the norm for most young girls who have not gotten an opportunity like mine, or worse off, been sexually exploited and/or working under hard and harsh conditions in the nearby sugar plantations.
I feel strongly that this opportunity is driving me into a future I dreamed I would never acquire. However, at the same time, I feel saddened by the fate of my fellow peers within my community. They are in predicaments that have ruined their future as result of:
1) Community stereo-type that regards girls education as useless
2) The environment around them, with nearly every home having a brewery / distiller of local gin, thus exposing them to sexual advances from men that are 10 times older than their age.
Thank you Act4Africa, the sponsors of the Grow A Girl programme to everyone that is making this possible, without your support I don’t where I would be now or what I would be doing, but most important, I know I would be being robbed of the bright future that I see ahead of me.
Prossy (aged 19, Mayuge District, Uganda)
Today marks International Day of the Girl Child: an annual initiative launched by the United Nations to support and empower young women across the globe with the theme this year focused on helping girls overcome adversity.
According to UNICEF, 600 million adolescent girls will start work in the next decade and 90 per cent of those living in developing countries will go into informal roles where abuse and exploitation are rife.
This is what the 2018 Day of the Girl Child seeks to combat under the theme: “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce”, which marks the beginning of a year-long effort to advocate female entrepreneurship and provide young women across the world with the tools they need to carve their own professional paths. At Act4Africa we believe the best way to equip girls for the future is through education.
Act4Africa’s Grow A Girl Programme relies solely on one-off donations and individual regular givers. If you think you can spare £25 a month to keep a girl like Prossy in education you can find out how, here.
As we enter into our third term at Kathy’s Kindergarten, headteacher, Basil Amatre, feeds back on parents’ and teachers’ views on the children’s experiences so far.
We are so proud of what we have achieved at Kathy’s Kindergarten in such a short time. So far we have welcomed 26 children from the local Mayuge community to begin their education and we are grateful to their parents for trusting us with this most important job. In just two terms, we have established a truly unique environment in which the children can play, learn and develop. Each child is supported and valued; we respect differences, encourage and enable each child to reach their full potential in a welcoming, happy environment.
One of our class teachers, Grace, says,
“We, the staff of Kathy’s Kindergarten, are so committed and ready to offer the best services possible to our dear children. We are ready to teach these children and bring out the best in them. We are grateful for the training we have received and are keen to learn more.”
A parent of one of the children recently reported,
“I am so pleased and happy for the great job the teachers at Kathy’s Kindergarten are doing. I appreciate the services that the school is giving to my child, she is making such good progress. The school has very dedicated and lovely staff which makes the school outstanding.”
Another parent adds,
“The children are taught extremely well. Teachers take good care of the children and make school seem like a home away from home, to the extent that children don’t want to miss school even when they are sick. The staff show great concern for our children and follow up if they ever miss a day, to find out why they missed.”
Act4Africa General Manager, Patrick reveals,
“It was my pleasure to meet Kathy Smedley, our co-founder, on several occasions, before she passed away. The kindergarten was her brainchild. It was Kathy’s dream to give the children of Uganda the best possible start in life. An early years teacher herself, Kathy was passionate about quality early years education and the difference this can make to a child’s future. Kathy’s Kindergarten takes an inspirational approach to developing Uganda’s young minds, and we are proud to do this in Kathy’s name.”
We hope that through your donations we will be able offer the gift of education to 20 vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Thank you for your support.
A regular donation of £25 will cover the costs of one deserving child attendance at Kathy’s Kindergarten. Please donate today.
A fascinating week in the Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda, for medical student Sarah Read- working in the chronic disease ward and a very busy emergency room.
Today marks our last full day in Uganda, and I can’t believe how fast this past month has gone. It’s been even better than I even imagined and I have learnt so much and had so many incredible experiences that will stick with me for a long time.
This week has probably been the week I’ve found the most interesting in the hospital. I spent a couple of days on what is referred to as the chronic diseases ward – most children on this ward have sickle cell anaemia, something really common here but something I have not come across in the UK. Surprisingly, I find it really interesting and have learnt so much about it whilst here. However, the complications of sickle cell can be severe, especially somewhere like Uganda where disease management is limited. I’ve seen so many children who have had strokes due to sickle cell, in varying stages of recovery – the impact of the disease on their life is massive, both financially and physically.
Life on the wards.
I also spent more time in the emergency room where I was able to see lots of interesting cases – there seemed to be many babies with congenital problems brought in this week. It was interesting to see how congenital problems are dealt with here, particularly with regards to cardiac disease. Generally, this is associated with poorer outcomes than it would be in the UK due to only one hospital in the country offering surgical procedures for children. Most children present too late for surgery to be effective anyway. It’s interesting how the lack of antenatal care here has such a massive impact on children’s health. However, it was nice to here that mother to child HIV transmission has decreased due to improvements in obstetrics.
A very busy emergency room! Something that has shocked me is the problems with oxygen supply they have here. All oxygen comes in large cylinders, but lots of the necessary equipment to set it up is broken or held together with tape. Oxygen is only available in the emergency room and so is only available to the sickest of children.
I was also able to make it to Brownies this week where I was able to see more of the work they are doing around female empowerment and inspiring the girls to aim high and work hard. They also wrote some lovely letters for me to bring back to my Brownie unit in Liverpool – something I am really looking forward to sharing!
It’s been such an amazing four weeks it’s hard to believe we fly home tomorrow! We ended the week in hospital by giving over the medical supplies from the UK, all of which were received so gratefully. I’ve been so privileged to have this opportunity and so grateful for all the support we’ve all received from everyone. I’m so excited to share all the pictures and more stories when we are back! Thanks for all the support throughout this last month, now it’s just the flight to get through! 🙂 x
Sarah Read – 27 July 2018