Our Man In Uganda: Notes from the frontline
Our government-qualified Community Health Promoters (CHPs) work tirelessly to improve health in the remote mountain areas of Mbale, Uganda. Through community outreaches, trainings and door-to-door campaigns, CHPs provide trusted health information on the transmission and spread of disease, personal hygiene, and sanitation within the home. From helping families install latrines to educating parents about childhood immunizations, CHPs are trained in a wide range of topic areas. Professional development sessions of late have focused on child and maternal care, including symptoms of early pregnancy and delays in delivery that can be prevented. One of these sub county’s covered is now the number one for health improvement in the whole District!
The new school year began at Rock Nursery School in February 2019, and is going strong! With the input of a new parent committee, we capped our enrollment at 80 children. Although it was a difficult decision to limit intake at the only nursery school in this remote area, we are already seeing the positive effects of smaller class sizes. Teachers are better able to foster age-appropriate learning and growth in all three classes. Students in baby class are being introduced to school routines while middle and top classes are learning to recognize letters, sounds and numbers – not only in their local language but also in English. Children also receive a cup of porridge every day for nourishment.
In the same mountain community where Rock Nursery School is located, our goat project is helping to lift families out of poverty in a sustainable, community-led way. A female goat of breeding age is vaccinated and given to particularly vulnerable members of community who receive training in goat rearing. Each beneficiary returns the firstborn kid to the project to be given to another family in need, while subsequent kids are kept for further breeding or sale. The income generated by the sale of even one goat makes a tremendous difference for these families. One grandmother who is now able to provide school fees, food, and other necessities for her household said that she “sees gold” every time she looks at her goat. Families involved in the goat project also participate in area savings groups, and many have launched their own businesses with their savings and loans.
Our area savings groups put the community in control of meeting their own needs. Each week, members gather to save what they can afford. Little by little, their small coins add up – with big results! From their shared savings, members can take out loans to cover the costs of family emergencies, medical care, or most often, to start a business. With the start of the rainy season, most of our members on Wanale have been investing in their gardens, planting carrots, onions and potatoes to sell for income. Other members have begun selling secondhand clothes or even starting up transportation businesses. We provide ongoing oversight and training for these groups; a recent session focused on the ‘Seven Steps of Saving.’
The Evergreen roaster has really come into its own this year. In the past, we outsourced most of the roasting, mainly due to the volumes required and a personal link with a British roaster in Kampala. Our British friend has now left Uganda, and so we have taken the opportunity to bring the roasting business fully to Mbale – using the 1kg roaster supplied by Evergreen! This has been a big step up for the coffee project and a great chance to bring more jobs and skills locally. It looks like we will out-grow the roaster fairly quickly as the demand for our coffee continues to grow. A nice problem to have!
Until next time, signing off.
Your man in Uganda,