Category Archives: Trip to Uganda May 2013

Day 10 – Wonderworld

So, last time we came to Uganda we took the families we worked with on a fun day to the local zoo. We now have more and new families that we work with, including lots of children, so we decided to take them on another trip but somewhere different.

After a little discussion our Ugandan teachers suggested Wonderworld; I hadn’t heard of the place but it’s apparently the Ugandan theme park that all children want to go to. We agreed, and at 75p per ticket we couldn’t really say no. It was such a fun day, taking the children out of Katanga, some for the first time, and some only their second time, as we took them to the zoo last year.

As with the trip to the Zoo, the children put on their smartest clothes for this special occasion.

The Swimming pool looked so inviting, with lots of water slides but none of the children could swim, so instead we just dangled out legs in the water. Perhaps we will go swimming next year…

The best way to tell you the rest of the story is for me to stop talking and to show you some pictures…

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Day 9 – New Building

For the past 5 months we have been talking about the necessity of buying another building in Katanga specifically for our Livelihoods program.

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We currently have a single building that we use throughout the week for our children’s classrooms. The women, in our Livelihoods program, currently come in to repay their loans weekly and to have a open mentoring session, to see how their businesses are growing if there is any advice we are able to give. We also run adult literacy and numeracy classes, as well as practical workshops in these classrooms.

Livelihoods Training

We currently work with 20+ women in our Livelihoods program and this number is constantly growing. We have given loans to 6 women to start/further their own businesses and we are now in a position to give more loans to a further 6 women.

We are so pleased to tell you that we have now bought another building within Katanga. We will use this new building as a resource centre for our Livelihoods classes and workshops.

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We have recently been given 8 sewing machines that we are going to fly out to Katanga in the beginning of August. These machines will be permanently set up in the building, so that women can come an work together to earn money for their families.

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Now that we have acquired the building, there is a little building work that needs to be completed before we move in. We are hoping that by the time the sewing machines arrive on the 14th August we will have a renovated building ready for our Livelihoods work.     

Make sure you keep an eye out for pictures over the next month, of work that we will be doing.

Day 8 – Livelihoods Loans

Our aim for the Livelihoods project is to ensure that whole families are supported, through a sustainable income. The main way we do this is by ultimately giving out interest free loans, so they are able to start their business and over time will be in a position were they can support their own families education, medical and nutritional needs.

Livelihoods Training

We started with the parents in classes, teaching money management and basic business skills. We want to be responsible with the money we are giving as a loan, this involves teaching the women an understanding of businesses, how they can grow and be sustainable.

We then ask the women to write a business plan, describing what they want their business to be, including how much it will cost to start, keep the business going and how much profits they aim to receive each day. Our Hope for Life team then look over each business plan to see if they are realistic, or whether we can work with them on improving their plan to become more sustainable.

Livelihoods

After writing the business plan is practical workshops. Most of the women already have the skill set to start their business but we help those who don’t yet have the skills and those who want to improve.

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After all of this previous work we will give out the loans they have requested, and we have agreed upon, in their business plan.

We gave out loans to 6 women in February 2013 and by the time we went back to Uganda to visit them in June, they were half way through the repayment of their loans; the video below is catching up with one of the women to see how their business is going, check it out… (be sure to watch it in HD and to see the children at the end)

Day 7 – Mosquito nets

Malaria is a huge problem in Uganda, with Mosquitoes all around the country carrying the infectious disease. Mosquitoes particularly inhabit and breed in warm, stagnant water. The drainage and general sanitation in Katanga is very poor and so there is not a shortage of stagnant water, and as a result, mosquitoes in Katanga.

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The best way to protect yourself from the bite of a mosquito is to have a special net over your bed that mosquitoes can’t get through.

Many families in Katanga can not afford to buy a net, despite understanding the importance of protection, despite having friends and family die because of malaria.

Every Ugandan I speak to is very flippant about a new case of malaria, saying things like, ‘I have had it 3 times this year already’. They are flippant, not because malaria is not very serious, but because it happens so frequently to Ugandans all around the country.

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There are different strains of malaria, some that can kill in hours and other strains that providing you get the correct medication you will be able to get better.

The problem with handing out mosquito nets is you can’t just hand them out to everyone. People are well known for taking the mosquito nets and then selling them on to others for a quick financial gain.

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As part of working with the families we get to know their home situation, including things like whether they sleep under a net or not. Our continued relationship with them means we are able to do regular checks on the family to ensure the nets are still up in their house to ensure prevent them from selling them on.

We give nets first to those who are the most vulnerable to being affected by malaria e.g. pregnant women and children. The malaria nets we give out are ‘family nets’, which means you can put 1 over a mattress and that will cover as many as 8 children each night. The nets cost only £5 per month but are worth so much more than that in lives saved and cost in medication each time they get ill.

If you are interested in donating into out Health program, to buy more mosquito nets for families in Katanga then you can give to Hope for Life at £5/net on our donate page.

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You can read our last post on giving out new dresses to children in Katanga… Day 6 – Dresses

Day 6 – Dresses

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This is now the second time that we have partnered with Dress a Girl Around the World, to take dresses to Uganda, to distribute to various children in Katanga. We took 50 dresses and 30 pairs of shorts that had been made, back in the UK, mostly out of pillow cases.

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We gave out some dresses in our class rooms, to children who live local to us. We then went round to different peoples homes to give out more. As well as it being a joy to hand out these clothes, it is also quite hard as there are thousand of children in Katanga. Who do you choose to receive a new dress?

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We have now given out a total of 90 dresses and 50 pairs of shorts, and with each of these children, they are so excited to receive a new, handmade dress/pair of shorts made specifically for children like them.

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Below are 2 sisters after receiving their new dresses. I stayed in Uganda for the next month, after giving out the dresses, and very rarely saw these 2 girls out of their dresses; only when their mum needed to wash the clothes.

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But there are thousand more children in Katanga, let alone the millions of children around the world, who have never owned a new, pretty dress. So if you are interested in getting involved in making your own Dress to send out then check out the following website for a simple tutorial http://sewscrumptious.blogspot.co.uk/p/pillowcase-dress-info.html

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You can also find Dress a Girl Around the World on their Facebook page to keep up with all they are doing, not just in Katanga but around the world.

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We really want to thank all those people who have put time and effort into making clothes for those around the world. Follow the link to find more pictures of children in their new clothes… New clothes for children in Katanga.

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Click on the link to find our previous blog from our recent trip to Katanga… Day 5 – Dr Katanga (Part 2)

Day 5 – Dr Katanga (Part 2)

Following on from the check-ups the Doctor did yesterday with our children, we then invited the parents we work with to come in to our classes, to talk about all things relating to Health.IMG_2115 We let the parents ask whatever questions they had, which ranged from sex, ‘safe days’ and HIV/AIDS, to Malaria, the importance of boiling water and worming.

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It was handy to not only have Doctor Trevor with us but also have Chris, who was just visiting, join us as a Nurse from the UK to help in answering some of the questions.

We then visited different families to talk more personally about the health problems they faced and have problems with. We at Hope for Life want to help and support the families in Katanga as much as possible, ensuring we do so in a sustainable way.

IMG_2013We spoke of more specific health issues that people had within their families e.g. HIV/AIDS, liver problems, asthma, malaria.

We have found that the best way to deal with matters of health within Katanga is not always to go out and buy medication and resources to do it all for them, but instead educate the families in areas where they currently are not sure, so they know the importance of different practices, precautions and medication, encouraging families to pay for medication for their own family.

There are instances where specific medical attention is required and it’s not through ignorance, or wanting to do harm but that the parents can simply not afford to do anything about these situations.

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This is a situation where one of the boys, who is apart of the Hope for Life program, and now is sponsored to go to school, not only had a hugely inflamed finger, which was proving painful but he also, just this week, had a dodgy circumcision job done on him, which has left him in more pain than normally comes with a circumcision.

We know the parent of this boy well and we understand that she can not afford to do anything about these 2 problems. So instead they were leaving the problems, hoping the finger didn’t get any worse and would be back to normal (providing no further infection was received) in 3 weeks and that the circumcision didn’t get infected and would be painful for the boy over the next month.

It is in situations like these that we are able to provide financial support, to provide for medical attention. Our Social Worker took this specific child over the next 3 days, to the clinic to be treated with antibiotics.

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If you want to find out about the check-ups & more we did whilst we had the doctor with us then follow the link Day 4 – Dr Katanga (Part 1)

Day 4 – Dr Katanga (Part 1)

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Some of you may know that Megan and I went to Uganda, originally for 3 months, in September 2011 and it was from those few months that Hope for Life Katanga was birthed.

However, we didn’t go to Uganda to start a charity, we went to help a team of doctors & nurses we knew in running a couple of medical camps, one in Kampala and another down near Kisoro, Uganda. This is not to say Megan and I are medically trained, not in the slightest, but we came to assist where needed in the work these medical professionals were doing.

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We were so pleased to hear that the couple that led the group of Dr’s and Nurses, Trevor and Carol, were coming back to Uganda; we definitely saw this as an opportunity to get them to help us in the charity that we had set up in Katanga.

There is huge amount of illness within Katanga, with our children often getting Malaria. So we thought it would be a good idea to use the skills of Trevor and Carol to do a ‘check-up’ of the children and families that we work with.

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Despite the local hospitals being ‘free’ for appointments, the families often tell us that they don’t go because they get charged for seeing a doctor. They were appreciative of the time that both Trevor and Carol spent with the families to help, where possible, in the area of Health.

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While the children took it in turn to see the doctor, the others were drawing pictures and writing notes of thanks. We talked about drawing something related to doctors and hospitals and it was quite disconcerting, but not surprising, to see many drawing huge syringe and needles.

The children breathed a huge sigh of relief when they found out that syringes and needles were not going to be used.

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The above picture is one of our students Christine, showing her picture to the doctor.

Read about our previous day in Katanga from our previous blog… Day 3 – Painting

Day 3 – Painting

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Before we came back to Uganda we thought that the classroom may need a fresh lick of paint and something done to help brighten the room up further. We want our catch-up classes to be a place where the children can come and feel inspired and motivated to work.

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One of our co-founders, Megan getting involved in brightening up the room.

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Chris putting his creative, decorative talents to good use!

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Painting on rough plastered, wavy walls with objects in the way is not easy but we appreciate the work all the guys put in.

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Today was also Megan’s birthday so one of our teachers, Afisha, surprised Megan with a cake that we shared amongst the painting team and our neighbours in Katanga too.

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The children in our classes certainly appreciated the colour, numbers and letters on the wall and the teachers appreciated a darker blue on the wall to shield shoe, scuff marks a little bit more.

To read about writing & swapping letters with a school in Bristol, England read our previous blog Day 2 – Letters

Day 2 – Letters

IMG_1302Within the term before we flew out to Uganda, students from Sea Mills Primary School, Bristol had written letters to our children in Katanga, introducing themselves and explaining about their lives in England.

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In the picture above, Chris and Megan are helping the students read the letters written by Sea Mills students.

Our children loved to receive the letters that others had written for them, they spent the rest of the morning reading all the letters as well as writing and drawing their replies. The theme of the letters were, ‘what can I see out of my window’.

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It was an obvious difference in presentation and the vocabulary used in the letters, from the children in England, to those in our catch-up program, who had never been to school but it is always amazing to see the progress from the children most of which, a year and a half ago, couldn’t even use and hold a pencil correctly.

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Read the previous blog Day 1 – Arriving by clicking the link.

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Akram and Moses

I was just leaving Katanga today, when I very proudly saw 2 of HFL’s ‘ex’-students Moses & Akram as they return from their first day at their new school.

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In the picture below: Moses (in the Orange) and Akram (in the Red) with a few of their classmates, just last week, at the Hope for Life school.

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Thanks to all of you who Sponsor a Child to go to school.

If you would like to Sponsor a Child for £20/month then contact us at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com or find out more information on our Sponsor a Child webpage… www.hopeforlifekatanga.com/sponsor-a-child/

Testing water in Katanga

Working with the University to test various samples of water in Katanga Slum. We are having lots of meetings with the local council, various water charities and water engineers to find out if we can improve the water and sanitation issue in Katanga. Find out more about our water program by clicking here.

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Vivian, her girls and the LRA

IMG_3917[1] As I was walking around Katanga I was stopped by a lady, who was sitting outside her home with her 2 girls. She explained about how she has heard that Hope for Life had been doing some good work in the area and that she need helps too. (It is not unusual for us to be asked for help, whether in education or in the giving of loans to start their businesses).

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I wanted to know a little more about the family, other than they just needed help. So while they were preparing for their meal I asked her name and the names of her 2 children. Winnie (in the 1st picture) went to an orphans school and was in P5 and her younger sister went to a different school, which I have visited a few times.

I asked where she was from, Vivian (the mother) said she was from Northern Uganda. “And how come you moved to Katanga from the city?” “Because they burnt all the houses in my village so we had to move”.I had a good idea of who ‘they’ were but I asked anyway just to make sure,  “the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)”, she replied.

I chatted to her for a little while longer about her family and her life but I couldn’t get over how the LRA had affected her families lives. I had heard a lot about Joseph Kony and the LRA, read books, watched films, read news articles, watched YouTube videos, and was emotional because of them but… when I met this lady and her family I suddenly felt a connectedness to the issue in northern Uganda.

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I now don’t need reporters on the TV to tell me the stories of ‘those’ who have been affected by the LRA, I now hear the news direct from the people that we work with in Katanga.

In the process of moving to Kampala for safety reasons, they fell into a high cost of living and poverty in Katanga.

Mamma Akram and her family

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It was great to sit with Mamma Akram and Family this afternoon, whilst they all were pulling off the wings and legs off Grasshoppers ready for frying (a tasty treat, even if it takes a while to get over the fact that your eating a bug!).

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We were chatting swapping stories about each of our families and lives, when I asked how much she was to earn from her family pulling these legs and wings off?

She replied, ‘300 shillings per cup and we have now done 3 cups’.

The family had worked together to get 900 shillings that day, which totals to 23p. 23p that 5 people had been working for. I asked why the boys were helping and why they were not playing football or something else, she then replied, ‘because they know that if they do not work then we do not get money to feed the family tonight’.

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A harsh reality from the lives of people who live in Katanga Slum.

Day 1 – Arriving

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After a long flight and not much sleep we finally arrived in Uganda, being met at the airport by one of our Founders, Francis at 3am. A big thanks to him for getting up and collecting us at that time, especially when it was 2 days before his wedding Introduction (A traditional part to the Ugandan wedding where the 2 families, and villages, get formally introduced).

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We arrived in Katanga Slum, after a good sleep, being met by the families that we work with, waiting for us in the school building. It was so good to be back. After the families, and Megan and I got over our original excitement of seeing each other we then introduced the rest of our UK team, with the families introducing themselves and speaking of how Hope for Life has helped them.

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The rest of the day was then made up of making our way around the Slum, populated with over 20,000 people, getting to know more about the slum we are just about to spend the majority of our 2 weeks in.

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