Photo taken by Chrisopher Symes for the British Council.
One of Claudia Jones Organisation staff members, Lorna Lewis, took part in an Active Citizen’s International Study Visit to Uganda.
Active Citizens is a British Council training programme which brings together people with differing beliefs and perceptions, promoting intercultural dialogue and community-led social development, to make fairer and more inclusive societies.
International Study Visits (ISV) invite Active Citizens to visit a country to explore social development issues and how communities are addressing these. Participants take part in a range of workshops and community visits that enable them to share their skills, knowledge and experiences.
Along with Lorna there were participants from organisations across the UK, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The ISV participants visited social action projects in Kampala and in Pallisa District, in Eastern Uganda.
Whilst in Kampala the group met the Action For Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD), a non-profit community development organisation based in the Bwaise slums. They have a range of projects including the Excel Education Centre, a school that provides education for 200 vulnerable children, HIV/Aids and sexual health peer to peer education, the Bwaise Youth Employment Training that provides vocational training, Project Chicken Feed and Give a Girl a Future.
Kisirisa Muhammed, the CEO of AFFCAD, said “Many Bwaise slums residents continue to battle domestic demands, illiteracy, poverty, patriarchy and negative cultural, religious and traditional practices. Some are even unaware of their rights to go to school, sexual reproductive health or even start and own businesses which further entrenches them in poverty and perpetrates their vulnerability. These can be solved by empowering urban poor slum communities to end poverty through creating access to formal education, awareness on HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health rights, and providing economic empowerment programs”.
In Putti, a village in Pallisa district, they visited a Mother to Mother Savings Club; it currently has 110 members, between 70-80% of these are living positively with HIV. According to UNAIDS estimates from 2013 Uganda has 1,600,000 [1,500,000 – 1,700,000] people living with HIV; adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate 7.4% [7.0% – 8.0%]. The majority of these women were raising their families on their own on extremely limited income; combining their resources enabled them to develop their own enterprises as well as pay for vital community projects such as bricks for a local school.
The group also visited a village that was seeking to raise funds to extend the facilities currently offered by the local medical centre. Uganda has a free, public healthcare system, but there are often unofficial fees with patients being asked to buy drugs and surgical items themselves. In addition, those living in rural areas have to find the cost of transportation to get to clinics and loose income from taking time off work. Those fund raising for the health centre are hoping that these barriers to accessing healthcare can be lifted with a larger, local facility.
In addition to visits to social action projects the group also visited the Ugandan House of Parliament, meeting the Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga as well as the District Speaker and Mayor of Pallisa.
Lorna Lewis said of her visit: “I was particularly interested in the challenges faced by women in Uganda and asked Ugandans, including Rebecca Kadaga, the District Speaker and Mayor of in Pallisa, what they believed to be biggest difficulties. It struck me that the issues they identified such as rape, domestic violence, low literacy and finical literacy levels and difficulties accessing healthcare, were similar to those experienced by women in the UK.”
The Claudia Jones Organisation offers support to women experiencing challenges through its Repairing Relationships and Bonding with Baby projects as well as listing sources of support for families in its Parents’ Survival Guide.
The organisation is keen to support practioners working in London as well as those working internationally. As such we have listed resources that those working outside of the UK can access and use in their work. Find these here.
If you know of organisations or resources that could be added to these lists please let us know. You can email this information to firstname.lastname@example.org.