We waved goodbye to Dave’s daughter and son-in-law as they traded in their jobs and lives in Wales for the rural delights of ¬†Uganda. After a five hour drive from Kampala to Kumi they arrived to¬†a dark house with a make-shift gate, no internal doors and their bed in large pieces on the floor. It took a few months to settle in but thankfully now have electricity though showers are still a bucket of cold water over the head and meals are cooked traditionally on a charcoal stove!
Both James & Sarah have swapped the comforts of Western living for one year in the Ugandan provinces to be the driving force for our latest projects. They have incredibly donated their lives as volunteers to steer our Develop with Dignity programme forward and oversee the establishment of our first Ugandan Vocational Training Centre in Mukongoro.
After learning that there is an ingrained drinking culture even with the children (Sarah witnessed a 7yr old girl drinking the “local brew” at 10.30am!) James teamed up with professional Ugandan footballer, Julius Ogwang, and has started offering weekly football training sessions as an alternative activity! The main¬†focus is 15-19yr old boys (but plenty under 15 show up too!) and the sessions also provide¬†an opportunity to¬†offer counsel to the boys about making positive choices. Julius explains to them that in real life, like on a football pitch, we have to make the right decisions. James feels that¬†through football these boys can learn a lot about healthy living, positive decision making, working under pressure and team work.
Following up from the work done by Chester University students last May, Sarah is being supported by T4U, plus funding from the Welsh Government through Hub Cymru Africa, to re-visit all the schools that have benefited from the provision of sanitary pads and menstrual education to conduct a¬†survey, interviewing each schoolgirl and their senior teachers to gauge the impact of the programme.
Initial studies have already shown an incredible increase in school attendance as a direct result of the programme so we would like to discover how this has made an impact on grades, graduation percentages across the area and how many are making the leap to secondary education.
As well as talking to the children and teachers, Sarah will also be running training seminars on Menstrual Health Education with the teachers of Yr 5 & 6 to equip them to run these sessions themselves with their pupils. Initial findings from the research the Chester University students conducted showed us that at least 36% of the girls interviewed did not know where their periods came from.¬†Sarah has discovered so many myths and primitive beliefs surrounding menstruation telling us that one teacher informed her that she told the girls their periods were “their vaginas crying because they were sad”. She will also be re-visiting the schools to sit in on the lessons afterwards to evaluate how effective the training has been.
Under our Develop with Dignity programme, Sarah is looking to trial a more comprehensive educational curriculum¬†tackling a broader range of issues, than purely Menstrual Health, that may be affecting children’s choices about their education.
Her guinea pigs will be the 73 pupils of Yr 6 (mainly 14yrs old) at Mukongoro Rock and she will visit them weekly to cover six sessions on:
Sarah has told us that few of the pupils she’s spoken with have any idea of their human rights or that there are any laws out there that protect them. She’s hoping that she has a positive reception with her curriculum and that it can be developed into a framework with lesson plans and teaching materials that can be rolled out across the district.Read More