James and Sarah are halfway into their year volunteering with Teams4U

Sarah and James are half way into their year volunteering with us in Mukongoro, Kumi

Ugandan life has certainly thrown a few challenges in the way of James & Sarah in their first 6 months of living in the rural township of Mukongoro in East Uganda, over a 5hr drive north from the capital, Kampala.

They’ve had to cope with no electricity, their house flooding in the first seasonal rains, having to find a new interpreter as their first one didn’t let them know she was pregnant until two weeks before her baby was born, whilst adapting to the cultural peculiarities of the district such as it’s strict no exposed skin above the knee stance, among others!

Education through Football Programme
Unfortunately, partly due to a lack of employment opportunities, idleness and cheap beer, it is common for young people to grow up watching their fathers, or guardians, sitting around all day drinking a mixture of beer and water. This has affected the young people with teachers telling James that their students are sneaking out of school and coming back drunk, and Sarah even witnessed a 7yr old girl drinking the local brew at 10am!

Making positive choices
James decided to start the Education through Football programme to challenge this ingrained behaviour whilst providing the opportunity to speak to young people about making positive choices regarding their lives.

Football strategy being drawn in the dirt

He teamed up with well respected, Ugandan professional football player Julius Ogwang, and started regular football training sessions with Wiggins Secondary School. Both boys and girls teams have recently qualified for the Regional Coca Cola championship after reaching the final of the local tournament which is a testament to the hard work both James and Julius’ have been investing in the teams!

Growing the project
Since this success, they have been inviting other senior schools to attend the weekly training session at Wiggins whilst running another session in Mukongoro for their two senior schools, and again in the community of Nyero.

Please support
James & Julius’ are now running the Education through Football programme across 3 areas over 4 days but are in need of financial support to cover the fuel and interpreter fees. Please consider supporting this programme that is engaging young people away from a lifestyle of idleness and alcohol abuse towards succeeding on the pitch and off it!

We have seen a 45% jump in school attendance through our Develop With Dignity programme
Develop with Dignity
One of Sarah’s priorities whilst being in Uganda has been to pioneer our Develop with Dignity programme across the Kumi district and produce a training model that can hopefully be replicated in other areas. Sarah has been conducting a survey, partly funded through Hub Cymru Africa, interviewing as many girls as possible who have benefited from our distribution of sanitary wear and underwear in the past year to gauge the impact of the programme whilst looking at ways to improve it.

In the classroom
Sarah talking to Yr 6 about Menstrual health

What have we learnt?
The survey has firstly shown us how effective our Develop with Dignity programme has been with a 45% jump in school attendance from the distribution of sanitary wear and underwear! However, it has also taught us much about the attitudes to Menstrual Health in Uganda and the mindsets we have to overcome.

Sanitary pads are brand new in Kumi. When I went to school all I wore was three pairs of knickers during my periods

We’ve discovered that parents, and even teachers, are not aware of the benefits of supporting schoolgirls with sanitary products and have been wildly misinformed about Menstrual Health. Here are just some of things we’ve heard whilst talking to the girls and their senior teachers:

Periods are the vagina getting rid of “bad” blood from the body
Periods are the vagina crying because it is disappointed in you
To get rid of period pain you should have sex
Periods are a sign that you should be sexually active
You shouldn’t stand near boys whilst on your period because it will cause you to bleed more
Using condoms give you cancer
Our survey has suggested that over 83% of girls aged from 12-19 have no clear idea why they have periods or how to manage them.

Where do we go from here?
We would like to run a 3 day teacher conference in October for 20 Primary 6/7 teachers from across the Kumi district to provide comprehensive Health and Social education covering Menstrual Health, Human Rights, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections etc. We are really keen to empower the teachers with the factual information around Menstrual Health and Sex Ed. plus equip them with lesson plans and handouts so they are facilitated to educate their students.

In the classroom
Sarah and James are also planning on returning to 21 of the public sector schools in the region with further in-the-classroom training, teaching both the boys and the girls in years 6 & 7 about attitudes to Menstrual Health, Sex Ed., substance and physical abuse, and making positive choices. Initial classroom training has emphasised the need to include boys in this education program as the behaviour Sarah has encountered from the boys towards the girls when starting their periods has been of a bullying, mean and abusive nature from saying their periods are “punishments from God” or even to go as far as saying the girls are now ready for sex, children and marriage.

1-1 interview
Sarah running a 1-1 interview on the effectiveness of the AFRIpads

Returning to the Survey
Lastly in this year we would like to return to the 40 schools who have, so far, benefited from the Develop with Dignity programme to interview the girls before they leave (hopefully) for further education. Sarah will also use this time to sit in on lessons and evaluate the materials senior teachers are using to educate their students to assess how effective our in-the-classroom training and teacher conference has been.

Please support
We have to tackle Menstrual Health Management because it is a barrier to education for these girls! Any donation at all is going to make a huge difference! Please help these young girls by helping us better educate their support network of teachers and peers so that they can develop with dignity!

We have our first 30 students enrolled in tailoring in Mukongoro Community College
Mukongoro Community College
Sarah & James have also been overseeing the establishment of our first Vocational Training Centre in Uganda with the first class open to students in February (start of the Ugandan academic term) this year!

Sewing school
First students in tailoring class in Kumi

Setting up this Community College has been a long awaited dream for Teams4U, as for over a decade we’ve been a part of this community and seen the lack of employment, limited education choices and the route many choose to take to drinking and substance abuse. The Kumi district is an area of approx 670 miles and until our centre opened provided no other vocational training. We had over 120 applications for our first class in Tailoring with students setting off as early as 5am to walk or cycle to class.

The bigger dream
Eventually we would like to grow the college to offer other trade-skills such as Joinery, Masonry, Mechanics and Hairdressing, but this will take a lot of investment as we look to build and resource new classrooms.

Our main needs
Right now the main needs are to equip our students with the essential materials to succeed in their course. Each student requires textbooks and their own sewing kit to assist them in their learning. Please consider a donation of £20 to give one student the materials they need to succeed!


Leave a Reply