Since I came back from Uganda at the start of September, everyone involved with The Zuri Project has been incredibly busy co-designing and planning our next projects. During our month in Uganda, Danielle and I were delighted to meet with many different community based organisations and a diverse array of local people during our time in Kihembe, which has provided us with the foundations to plan our next projects. Over the past 6 weeks, our team in Uganda have done wonderful work gathering additional information and conducting research, our board of trustees have met a number of times to discuss the particulars of each project to ensure they meet our charitable objectives, and our ambassadors in the UK have offered insightful advice and guidance, which has challenged us to think about our work in many different ways. This collaborative effort is something we are immensely proud of, and together, we have decided to support the following six projects, each of which is designed to improve community wellbeing in a different way:
Agricultural and nutritional community outreach programme
We have partnered with Bwindi Community Hospital Gardens to deliver an agricultural outreach programme in Kanyantorogo, through which over 150 people each year will receive practical workshops to improve the quality of their agricultural practices. Agricultural officers from BCHG engage with community members and deliver 2 training sessions per month, educating people about methods of crop diversification, the importance of a balanced diet and information about the correct use of environmentally friendly fertilisers to facilitate crop rotations. The project supports people to diversify their personal crop yield and therefore increase their income. It also addresses malnutrition and provides families with important information about healthy and nutritious foods, as well as information about how to grow these crops
Educational incentive project
One of the greatest challenges facing families in Uganda in relation to education is the relatively high cost of school fees and scholastic materials. In rural areas in particular, families often regard sending their children to school as too expensive and prefer the children to stay at home and work. In recognition of the burdensome school fees that families have to pay for their children to attend school in Uganda, we have supported Kishunju Primary School to develop an educational incentive project, whereby when school fees are paid, children receive scholastic materials in the form of 2 pens, 2 pencils and 6 exercise books to last the school term, in order to reduce the overall cost of a child’s education to the parents. Over the last few years, the number of children enrolled at the rural Primary School has fluctuated between 165 and 292, with pupil ages ranging from 3 to 20 years old. We are exploring ways of expanding this project and working with other primary schools within the community in the near future, to explore whether this pilot project can be up scaled.
Primary school agricultural and nutritional project
At Kishunju Primary School, we have also piloted an agricultural and nutritional project, which has seen the school cultivate some of their unused land and turn it into vegetable gardens and crop fields. This project started informally in 2012, and prior to its’ inception, children had to walk long distances to cook at home or go all day without eating, meaning either missing lessons and/or pupils dramatically losing concentration resulting in a classroom environment unsuitable for learning. Presently, each child now receives breakfast in the morning, as a result of the crops that has been planted and grown on the school land. Working in collaboration with Bwindi Community Hospital Gardens, we are now increasing the scope of this project and have started to cultivate nursery beds at the school, where the gardener is growing a variety of vegetables including cabbage, eggplant, dodo, tomatoes, matooke and beans. After 2 seasons, it is our hope that the gardens will yield sufficient crops to provide each child with a nutritious meal at lunch time, in order to raise concentration levels of the children, and increase the value of education in the eyes of community members.
OPADS female sensitisation Programme
Millions of girls throughout the developing world are disempowered by the simple biological process of menstruation. Hygienic and affordable sanitary protection is often not available to girls in many developing regions, and this is the case in Uganda. Instead, these young women commonly resort to the use of unsafe methods such as rags, grass, mud and soil. The risk of infection becomes incredibly high. In order to support young girls to have access to safe and affordable sanitary products, we have partnered with OPADS international, a social enterprise based in Kanungu district, which makes reusable cloth sanitary pads designed to offer effective and hygienic menstrual protection to young girls. The OPADS provide environmentally-friendly menstrual protection for up to 1 year at approximately 41% of the total cost of a one-year supply of commercial sanitary pads. Through our partnership with OPADS, we have designed and delivered a pilot project at Kishunju Primary School, where we have supported girls in P5, P6 & P7 to receive sensitisation workshops about the importance of menstrual health and hygiene. Each girl also receives a pack of seven OPADS for use throughout the year. For more information about this project, visit: http://www.opads.info
The Zuri Allstars Sports Project
In collaboration with Opportunity Africa, we are supporting the implementation of a mini football league within the community of Kihembe, where 70 young people will have the opportunity to participate in competitive sport on a weekly basis, whilst learning important educational messages. Children across Uganda love football, and the ability of football to bring people together to learn, share and compete is a powerful and simple way to deliver social change. We are supporting the provision of the necessary resources, structure and personnel to create the foundations of a mini league, where small sided teams will compete against each other in weekly matches. We are also co-designing an extra-curricular educational programme to run alongside the league, through which the players will learn key life skills through their football which they can apply to their own lives, ranging from safe sex behaviours in relation to HIV/AIDS, to the importance of basic health and hygiene.
School cultural exchange programme
We have developed a partnership between St Joseph’s Primary School in Chorley and Kishunju Primary School in Kihembe, through which the pupils from each school exchange termly letters and photographs in order to share what information about what it’s like to attend school in the UK and Uganda respectively. We have also created a buddy programme for the teachers, where teachers from each school communicate via email and Skype in order to discuss any challenges that they may face and can problem solve together. In the UK, we will be arranging an African cultural workshop once a year and a fundraiser in collaboration with St Joseph’s, to raise awareness about Ugandan culture and share our experiences of what it’s like to live in a different country. We are currently exploring ways in which we can develop partnerships secondary schools in the UK and Uganda.
We will be posting regular updates from our new projects, so please follow our blog for more information. We are also planning a number of new projects that we hope will be implemented at the start of 2016, so please check back to hear about any new developments. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our funders and supporters; we’re incredibly grateful for your continued support and without you, none of these projects would have been possible
As always, feel free to let us know what you think, or get in touch if you have any questions.