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A groundbreaking day for Kathy’s Centre

By Sarah Istephan, Marketing Manager

Last Thursday in Uganda saw the groundbreaking ceremony for Kathy’s Centre take place, marking the eagerly anticipated beginning of construction for the health and education centre for women and children in Mayuge.

Providing healthcare, support, advice and counselling for women in the local community, the centre will also provide much needed early years’ education for local children between 3 and 5.
Kathy’s Centre is close to the heart of Act4Africa, as it was dreamt up by the charity’s co-founder, Kathy Smedley, who worked tirelessly for 14 years in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi to bring healthcare and education to young vulnerable women. Sadly, Kathy passed away in 2014, but we’re passionate about keeping her dream alive and very excited that her vision is finally becoming a reality.
In Uganda, where 7.1% of adults are living with HIV (UNAIDS), Kathy’s Centre will bring HIV testing and other vital health support to the rural Mayuge district, as well as counselling services for vulnerable women in the community. Gender inequality is rife throughout Uganda, and empowering women to break out of the relentless cycle of health problems and poverty that it causes is central to our work in the country. Providing a safe haven for women with essential healthcare, advice and a kindergarten for Mayuge’s most disadvantaged children, Kathy’s Centre is an exciting new chapter for the people of Mayuge and the Act4Africa team.

We have EfOD NW (the North West division of Engineers for Overseas Development) and many supporters to thank for making Kathy’s Centre dream a reality. From conception to design to construction, EfOD’s infrastructure engineers have devotedly volunteered their time and expertise to the Kathy’s Centre project over the last two years, and are committed to raising the funds needed to sustainably build the centre to the highest quality possible.

 Fittingly, it was engineers Shaun O’Connor and Daniel Williams from EfOD along with Patrick Kigongo and Mayuge District Chief Administration Officer Moses Kizige who officially began the construction process at the groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday.

Along with shovels and hard hats, the ceremony included a tour of the construction site, demonstrations on building equipment and entertainment from members of the local community, as well as speeches from the engineers working on the project and members of the Act4Africa team and local council.

Prominent members of the local community, including District Local Council Chairman Wajokerena Fred and Pastor Tom Ngobi were in attendance, showing their support and excitement for the impending construction and opening of the centre.

Enthusiasm and hope for the centre and the positive impact it will have for the local community was almost tangible at the ceremony. Pastor Tom Ngobi encouraged the need for behavioural change in the community and celebrated the difference Act4Africa has already had in the area, saying, ‘Act4Africa started with enthusiastic young volunteers who purposed to create change and because of their commitment, Act4Africa has reached this milestone.’

General Manager for the Act4Africa team in Uganda, Patrick Kigongo, reiterated this message of progress, expressing the excitement shared by all for the positive impact Kathy’s Centre will have on the lives of the local community. Patrick announced, ‘This is a historic moment in the history of Act4Africa from our humble beginnings to this day, as we celebrate the groundbreaking of a centre in memory of our co-founder that will impact, save and transform the lives of the society’s most unprivileged.’

Certainly, Kathy’s Centre will bring vital support and care to the most disadvantaged members of the community. On a more personal note, Act4Africa Community Mentor Nubbu Bibirye spoke from her own experiences as a woman trying to make a living in difficult circumstances. Expressing gratitude to Act4Africa for training and supporting her and other women in the region’s HEAL groups, Nubbu reflected on what her life might be like without such support: ‘As a woman I would perhaps be indulging in commercial sex trade but Act4Africa has continually engaged us through its great programmes that are uplifting our economic standards.’

Now that construction is underway on Kathy’s Centre, there is a definite sense of progress and excitement about its opening among the Mayuge community. The centre is due to be completed in December this year, but we still need to raise around £15,000 for the internal fixtures and fittings that will ensure it’s a first class health and education facility for the local people.

To support this worthy and exciting cause, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/KathysFund and donate as much as you can!

Fulfilling our fundraising aims will see Kathy’s Centre open to the community in September 2017, ready for even more groundbreaking work to commence!