Saturday, October 9, 2010

Peace and Hope doing good.

One of the great finds of our mission so far is a little group called Peace and Hope. After striving to help the people in their neighborhood they organized themselves in 2006 and became a recognized NGO (non governmental organization.)

They have sheltered young homeless girls, they have taught a sack gardening program to improve the nutrition of families, they started up three sewing training centers: one for women with HIV/AIDS, another for orphaned street girls, and another for girls at risk in their own neighborhood. Through this program they have taught basic sewing skills and training to mothers and girls to sew their own reusable sanitary pads.

Peace and Hope have developed a program teaching maturation clinics for young girls to learn basic knowledge on women’s health and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. They have helped them set up a business of sewing reusable sanitary pads. 
Peace and Hope Training Center
When we visited their center we were impressed with the sheer volume of activity happening there and the number of people benefiting from the services.
Olivia and Elder Barlow in front of Peace and Hope Training Center
The director of Peace and Hope is Olivia Sserabira. She is an amazing woman doing good at every turn and always looking at ways to support those in need. She came to us with a project to train girls of maturation age in school on how to make reusable sanitary pads. She was made aware of a great problem here of girls missing 5 days of school each month because they have no way to manage their monthly needs in a school setting.

The first Peace and Hope project was written for 12 schools and 21 communities to receive health and maturation training. The project provides a sewing machine for the school and even some of the communities. They are taught how to make the reusable sanitary pads and why it is important to embrace this program.

The program provides a bag containing the sanitary pad kit for each girl of maturation age in the schools and then they are taught how to make the pads along with the girls counselor, who keeps the sewing machine and continues to train and mentor the girls.

In the villages the group works with women's organization or they help women get organized and then they train them on the reusable sanitary pad program and give them the personal health and hygiene training using the church’s Family Health and Hygiene manual.

Women learning how to make reusable sanitary pads.
The issue of disposable sanitary pads is a huge sanitation problem in the cities and in the rural areas girls and women are unable to purchase sanitary pads and menstruation is difficult to manage especially if a girl is trying to go to school.
Olivia’ s reception in the schools was wonderful as the girls and their teachers embraced the program and were delighted to get a sewing machine which will sustain the program for years to come. The schools are taking the Health and Hygiene manuals and creating a health curriculum for all the children in school.
expect 40 and get 140
The most overwhelming response was with the women in the villages. We attended two training sessions in the community. Each session was suppose to bring in 30 community members to train on making reusable sanitary pads and discuss health and hygiene. The first session had 80 women and men in attendance and the second session ended up with 140 people attending, far more than anticipated. Dr. Bayigga Michael Lulume,Member of Parliament in this area, has attended every training session and even given some of the Health and Hygiene training as he is a medical doctor.
MP teaching hygiene and sanitation
Communities are left with a trainer, a sewing machine and materials for furthering the training. Peace and Hope also gives them enough material to get started in making the pads which they will sell to generate more sewing supplies for more pads. An average of 3-4 training sessions are conducted in each community.

While doing the Hygiene and Sanitation training Olivia realized that often the women do not have soap to wash their clothes or cooking pots. So she just went ahead and taught them to make soap. She shared with them the idea of sack gardens for those who had no space for a garden. She even taught some groups how to make candles. All of these trainings are potential income generation projects which the women can use to improve their family income.

The Member of Parliament stated that the training has given his people much needed concepts to improve family health, something they had never been given access to before. This training was only covering half of his constituency and he asked if we could extend the project to cover all of his area. At this request we have been given approval to do another project so that all of his constituency will benefit from this program.

Women state that they never understood what causes illness nor did they understand the role of nutrition in the health of their children. Women are being empowered to impact their families health and nutrition and younger girls are learning to be their own advocates and being empowered to manage their own needs.
Studying the Health and Hygiene manual
One father thanked Olivia for training his daughter in maturation and the prevention of HIV/AIDS as his wife had died and he felt helpless in how to teach his daughter the things she needed to know. He called her a blessing and knelt down in front of her. Olivia was at a loss as in Uganda the women kneels before man not man before a woman. It was such a wonderful expression of gratitude.
Mother and daughter going over the healthy pregnancy information
This project is so successful at motivating people to improve their health that one woman’s organization has petitioned Peace and Hope to become a satellite of their organization. Peace and Hope have granted permission to the group and they have already started making plans to go deeper in to the rural areas to share the information they have learned and they have started a commercial business of selling the sanitary pads to fund their outreach.

We visited the second project last week and found women working together to improve their abilities to sustain their families. They were already organized in to clubs concentrating on farming, cooking and baking and the third of making, marketing and selling crafts. These are rural women finding ways to unite together to solve their problems. One group has a bank in which each member puts in 2,000 shillings a month ($1) and the bank can make loans to the women for school fees, starting a business or even for needed health care. The loans are paid back at a simple interest of !0% with no time frame stipulated. Pretty impressive. . . 
Some make paper beads and sell them as a group to strengthen their organization

Some women weave mats and sell them in the market
Peace and Hope is working with them , giving them the Health and Hygiene Training and the concept of reusable sanitary pads. The women are embracing all the information and incorporating it into their organizations even committing to take the training to the schools themselves making it possible to reach many more schools than we had planned for in the project.

This is called perpetuation of the project and will ensure the sustainability of the training which all of our projects strive for.

One of the concepts we have learned:
If you give people good information and the tools they need to be successful they can govern themselves and accomplish great things.



Kimberly said...

God bless you Olivia and Co. What a great service they are doing for the women and girls of Uganda.

Melinda said...

It still amazes me, how far behind Africa seems to be in regard to EVERYTHING, compared on how the Western Cultures are soooooo advanced. It seems so unfair, and almost embarrassing in a way. Reading your blog has made me become a little bit more appreciative of my own surroundings here in Switzerland. If I ever complain I can come and read thru your blog some more and realize just how lucky or blessed I really am compared to others!

Angela said...

Ditto what Melinda said! Amazing that people show up for these things and want to learn. It seems like nobody shows up to community events here. We're all too busy with reality t.v.right? (i'm included) Amazing stuff going on there.