This is an exciting time for the Amahoro Children and Community Team (ACCT) because our programs are growing, the services we provide are improving, and our circle of friends and partners is expanding. Each trip has its breakthroughs, and one of our breakthroughs this trip was connecting with people in Uganda who have expertise in areas that we have been working on. The idea is to find a person or an organization in Uganda that can continue working on certain projects, even when the ACCT team is back in the US. This continues the process of improving the lives of the children and adults we work with, and breaking poverty. We would like everything to continue even in our absence.
One organization we connected with on this trip was Days for Girls in Kampala, Uganda. Days for Girls focuses on feminine hygiene and reproductive health education. We have been working with Days for Girls in the United States to bring feminine hygiene kits to Uganda for the past four years. However, a few years ago, Days for Girls opened an office in Kampala and we were interested to see what we could do together. We met with them and had them come to each of our children’s homes to teach the girls about feminine hygiene, and to teach them how to sew the kits. The instructors did a wonderful job and the information was very valuable to the young women at the homes.
We also connected with The Youth and Community Health Counseling Initiative (YCHCI) a community-based organization that focuses on health education and providing HIV testing and counseling. Josephine and Livingstone from YCHCI came to all three of our clinics and did HIV testing and counseling. They have the appropriate confirmatory tests, referrals material and counseling materials. At the three medical clinics, they found an HIV prevalence of approximately 1-2%. This is the same as what we have found at our clinics in previous years. However, they told us about an HIV testing outreach that they had just conducted on the islands in Lake Victoria near the town of Iganga, where they found the HIV prevalence rate to be approximately 70%. It seems that Uganda’s HIV prevalence is not evenly distribute among all communities, but is instead focus particularly in certain communities, for example certain fishing communities on Lake Victoria.
Another group we worked with was The AIDS Support Organization (TASO). TASO is an NGO for HIV/AIDS education, counseling and treatment. Along with medically focused programs, TASO also does communities outreaches where they focus on educating communities about HIV/AIDS. These community outreaches are often lead by the TASO Music and Drama group, which is made up of people living with HIV/AIDS who want to do their part to stop the epidemic. They presented a few songs containing stories and information about HIV, as well as a testimony from one of the group members about how she became infected, and how she is taking her ARVs and making the most of her life now, and they also presented an educational and entertaining skit. The children and community members at Matugga were very engaged in the presentation, and they seemed to be learning a lot from it.
We also met with William the head of Heifer International in Uganda. They have many wonderful projects in Uganda and we hope to partner with them in the future to strengthen our agricultural and sustainability programs, and to help teach the children animal husbandry skills.
We have started making a connection with Peace Corp Uganda. We are exploring the possibility of having a Peace Corps volunteer who would teach at the Amahoro school and could provide some guidance and advice for the school.
By coincidence we also met Dr. Franklin. He is a Ugandan trained physician and has a business called Medical Missions Uganda. This organization provides free health care to the vulnerable communities in Uganda through monthly medical camps and community clinics. They also work with international medical teams to hold medical clinics in the field in Uganda. Franklin believes it is important for us to get temporary medical licenses, and he is probably right. Medical missions Uganda can also help us get the medical supplies in country and they can help us set up tents that will work as our exam rooms during our medical clinics in the field. We have learned so much in 5 years of medical clinics but we still have much to learn and a great deal of work to do. With like-minded friends in Uganda anything is possible.