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Sending love from an often rainy as well as sunny Uganda (we're currently in the midst of rainy season!) and hoping that this email finds you safe and well!
Thank you so much for your interest and support for the Every Girl project. We can hardly believe that we are coming up to December. Where did the time go? We hope you'll enjoy reading some of our highlights over the past three months.
Despite the lockdown giving us a chance to check off our 'to do list', we are thankful that restrictions in Uganda have eased significantly over the past few months. Recent changes have meant that we have been able to host our trainings again. Armed with electronic temperature guns, hand sanitisers and face masks, as well as ensuring social distance, it has been so much fun to be able to meet in groups again.
We have been able to hold three separate pad trainings, bringing the number of volunteers that we have trained to 270! The aim is that these volunteers will then be able to teach girls in their communities how to make their own reusable sanitary pads. We hope that the message will continue to spread and that more and more girls and women who struggle to afford safe sanitary wear will have another option.
Excitingly, we have also been able to train Justine, in the left photo, as a teacher. It has been so much fun to have someone else to lead sessions with and great to be able to offer paid work too. We are hoping as we start 2021 to find someone that we can also train to head up the project so that it can become more sustainable in the long-term.
Throughout the lockdown we were able to plan and prepare the women's health education aimed primarily at men. This was requested by some of the women we had been training in community groups, as often men are the head of households in Uganda and many of the women we had met had found that their partners had not been very understanding of their needs. This means that they are the ones to allocate finances towards items such as sanitary wear and it's hoped that increased knowledge and understanding of each others needs will reduce domestic violence.
The teaching involves training volunteers how to deliver two lesson plans; one on women's health, primarily focusing on reproductive health, and the second about family planning, what factors to think of when thinking about having children and sexual consent.
The aim of this training is to help men understand women and to know how they can be more supportive to their family and female relatives. Discussing the three main causes of maternal mortality and morbidity and how the chances of this can be reduced through planning a family can hopefully improve the health and wellbeing of the women and girls in our communities.
The first pilot session was two weeks ago and it was really encouraging to hear the group's feedback and to learn how we can continue to adjust and improve this training for the future.
So all that's left to say is a massive thank you for your interest and your support. Many so generously gave to this project and none of what we have achieved would have been possible without you! We are so excited to start back again in 2021, and for all the groups we will get to meet.
For now, despite the unusual nature of celebrations this year, we want to wish you a very healthy and merry Christmas and a great start to 2021!
First of all, sending love from Uganda and hope you are keeping safe and well in the midst of this pandemic.
Like the rest of the world, we are understandably working under many restrictions in an attempt to keep the Corona virus at bay and so we have not been able to do as much community work as we had hoped. It has however, provided plenty of time to get to the long awaited- to do list- and to get going with tasks that have been shelved for a while.
We have also written our material for the men’s training sessions. The idea is that men and women need to be empowered together. Often here, men are the ones who control family finances, and make decisions, so their knowledge of women’s health and why it is important to prioritise access to safe menstrual wear and washing facilities is vital. Many women in our teaching sessions have been asking for us to put together this training so we are excited to hopefully be able to start soon.
Rose, one of my JENGA colleagues
One of our training groups
As restrictions have been easing we have now been able to meet with small groups (no larger than 5) and we have been able to train 2 groups this way. One of these sessions was held with JENGA staff members who will then teach girls in their communities.
Excitingly, we are hoping to start to employ someone for one and a half days to start from the end of September. The aim is that we can work together, spending one day in community; training one group in the morning and one in the afternoon, as well as having an afternoon in the office for admin work together. I am hoping that as the lockdown (hopefully!) eases as the Corona virus (hopefully!) reduces that we can gradually increase these hours and hold larger sessions with more groups. The idea of employing someone is really exciting as it means being able to provide employment and to be able to work towards handing this project over to someone local. Hopefully this will mean that the project can be more sustainable in the long term.
Whilst these past few months have been challenging in ways many can relate to, they have also provided plenty of time for reflection, refining resources and crucially; planning, ready for us to jump back in as restrictions ease. We are so grateful for your interest and support as we navigate this season and plan for the next.
The training of volunteers and the giving out of training packs to the organisations where we have been training volunteers has been running since February. So far we have trained 179 volunteers and given out 9 training kits. This has included training in a seminary, a primary school, a hospital near Kampala, one of the Mother's Union archdeaconries amongst other places. Volunteers have included cleaners, community workers, teachers, nurses, midwives, students and doctors amongst others. It has been so exciting to see so many individuals so excited to share this training with those in their communities.
We have also received positive feedback from one of our trainers near Kampala. Moses works for a hospital as head of the community services. He has been teaching in some of his local communities and met a mother called Care. Care had been spending 15,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately £3.20) on sanitary pads each school term. After learning how to make her own pads, Care taught her daughter who has now made her own sanitary wear. Care said "This time I have saved".
Whilst 15,000 shillings may seem like a small amount of money, this is often unaffordable or very difficult to afford for many in our communities. This saving means that Care can put this money towards school fees, food and other essential needs which her family has. It is really exciting to see and to hear testimonies of people benefitting from the training!
Like the rest of the world, Uganda is facing restrictions at the moment to ensure our safety. For this reason, trainings have been stopped for the time being. However, this is giving us to reflect on the work we have done so far; what has worked well and what we can improve on and is giving us time to plan the women's health training programme for the men.
Keep tuned for our next developments and thank you so much to all those who have invested in us so far!!