Our first baby goats

On 21 August 2016 we took delivery of 18 dairy goats for our Widows loan goat and crossbreeding programs. What we didn’t know at the time, was that some amongst the goats were pregnant and we now have our first baby goats 

This is the female baby goat and her mother

 

This is the Male baby goat

Oe of the aims of dairy goats program was to enable women to access milk as part of their diet and the  good news is that the widows whose goats have kids are getting 1 to 2 cups of milk per day for their own consumption.

baby goats

We have had some bad  news too.  One of  the 50% male goats we bought for the cross breeding program died.  He was housed with one of the female goats who was already pregnant. We suspect that he tried to mate with her and because she was not on heat (due being pregnant already) she fought him and injured him with her horns.  This resulted in an eye infection that spread to both eyes and unfortunately, after treating him with antibiotics, he didn’t respond well and died.

baby goat

The program is now under way and we are expecting 3 more baby goats next month so keep an eye on this space for updates.

baby goat

I caught up with some of the women that are part of the program last month. It was interesting to hear about their experiences of caring for the goats and how excited they are the prospect of having access to goat milk. 

End of Semester 2 at the sewing class

On 14 December Paige and I finally got to  meet that are part of our Skills Development Initiative in person.  It was end of semester 2 and we were in for a treat. The girls had to make something to wear for our visit as part of their end of semester 2 exams. 

Group Photo- as the girls show off their creations

We were treated to a fashion show too.. this was such a fun afternoon . The girls told us what it means to them to be part of this program as well as their aspirations. It was interesting to note, that most would like to go into business as teachers so they can pass on the skills they have learned to other.  girls like them.  

 


Ovious- I am impressed with what I have achieved here. I was in the village with no prospects nor future to look forward to. I had no skills and my parents had no money to fund further education or training for me. I dream of owning my own sewing school
Daphne- I had no skills and I never imagined I would ever sew anything let alone on a sewing machine. I would like to teach others who to sew a business
Rona- I am an orphan and had no skills or money to continue my education. I am happy that I can now use a sewing machine to sew. I will work hard and hope to get a job as a sewing teacher
Phionah- I ham happy to be part of this program. I would like to use my new skills to make clothes for children
Evelyn- I didn’t complete my O’levels and was not sure what the future would be like. I am happy to have been included in this project as well the sanitary pads projects
Ronas- I am  happy to be part of this program. I am especially happy that I can make my own dresses. I would like to get a job as a seamstress or teacher
Evas- (head Girl) – I am now competent in the use of a sewing machine and can make clothing for others. I would like to see this program scaled so that other girls in the community can access it.
Paige looking through Evelyn’s project work book. Impressive progress

 

Evelyn’s work- Evelyn has done so well that is now employed on our menstrual hygiene project 

 

Maclean- Teacher- She is to be congratulated for the work she has done with these girls in such a short space of time.  The girls’ achievements are a credit to her.

The girls have one more semester to go before they out and  out those skills to work.  Keep an eye on this space and we will keep you posted as to their progress. 

If you would like to support these girls get started on their new journey once they graduate please consider making a donation at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls

Rwentojo chicken program: The chickens are here

Following the inspection of chicken coops, it was time to bring the chicks home to Rwentojo.

send a chicken

This is always an exciting time. The chicks are two months old and at this  age it is easy for anyone without prior experience of poultry farming to look after them. 

For this round of the program, we reduced the number of participants and increased the number of chicks per participant.

The village Chairman  was part of the house to house assessments  to introduce us. He did a preselection of the women who are head of households in his village – most of them are widows but there are some who apparently cannot rely on their husbands either because they’re never around or they’re alcoholics.

 

We are keen on investing in women in this part of the country as most  have no  assets that would enable them to generate income. 

Rwentojo

The next steps will involve monitoring the farms to ensure that the women are looking after the chicks properly as this has implications for how well develop into hens.

The women will receive training on how to vaccinate the chicks, book keeping and marketing. 

Watch this space for updates in the New Year. 

Team College renovation: an Update

In my last post I told you about  Team College and what we are doing to renovate and upgrade the school buildings as well as improve sanitation. 

Rural schools such as these suffer from a lack of funding compared to urban schools. This then has implications for the quality of teachers such schools can attract and as such the quality of education pupils can expect. 

We are pleased to be in position to change things for this school and as you can see from the photos below, a lot has happened in the past few days. 
delivery-of-sand

The truck arrives with building materials
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Stones for construction of the veranda
upgrading-the-class

Work starts on the interior of the classrooms.  The builders and suppliers of building materials are secondary beneficiaries of this project, 

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Not wanting to be left behind, girls from the college get stuck in the preparations to seal the floor

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Rendering of outside walls. This being a rainy season the progress on this is surprising to say the least. 

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And here is the finished article

 

Team College management committee and James Chairperson 2 Ruhanga parish visit to the building site. 
Team College

With the rendering of the outside walls nearly done, work started on installing window frames. It will be such a treat for students to have dry classrooms during the rainy season. 

renovation
Team College

This is where we are now friends, keep an eye on this page for more updates.

Team College improvement program

Team College School is a rural community education initiative. It is a registered Community Based Organization (CBO) with Ntungamo District and operates in Nyamuhani cell, Ruhanga parish, Itojo Sub County, Ruhaama County, Ntungamo District – South Western Uganda.

The school opened its doors to the public on 2 February 2009 and the objective is to offer post primary Educational services to rural youth aged 13 -19 years who would otherwise not afford to access such education due to prohibitive costs.

Team College

Team College is unique in the area in that it strives to accept children who may not be the most educationally gifted but those who have evidenced a willingness to learn and come from families where the cost of secondary education elsewhere is not an option. Whilst Team College has a good reputation amongst its students, its current physical condition does impact on its ability to deliver a good quality education.

The physical environment of the school is very poor and this has implications for learning. Currently, the buildings have got neither doors nor windows, this means that rain ingress is a regular occurrence. The walls are not plastered and the floors are not sealed. This means that on a rainy day students are learning in a muddy and dirty environment.

Floors not sealed
Floors not sealed

Also bugs like fleas, jiggers and ticks, which are common in the area have direct access to the classrooms exposing students to all sort of diseases.

No windows Moreover, during the rainy seasons (March to May and September to November) mold on walls and floors is common as they do not dry up quick enough and this causes respiratory infections in both students and teachers. This situation means that the school is unable to attract good quality teachers and this has serious implications for the students and their education results.

Team College
Classroom

 Our next initiative will involve focus on the installation of doors and windows, plastering of walls as well as sealing the floors. The anticipated outcome is that an improved physical environment will provide a better learning environment for the students and will make it more attractive to young people and their parents resulting in higher student numbers, thus more income, thus greater ability to attract and retain a better- standard of teachers.

Team College

The school boarding facilities are reduced to a room with no windows or doors for the boys, and a nearby house for the girls. The boys that currently board sleep on the floor and the girls have to share beds in the house they stay in. Boarding provides pupils an opportunity to focus on their studies away from the pressures of the home environment but when dormitories are not properly set up, living conditions can lead to distractions and eventually school failure.

Team College

Sanitation at Team College

39 girls from Team College participated in LTHT’S Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Program. Although, there is a high level of satisfaction among the students using the DFG sanitary pads we distributed earlier in the year, the lack of proper washing facilities at the school meant that their basic hygiene needs are not yet fully met. The current girls’ latrine is full and doesn’t provide enough space for the girls to wash and dry their pads we will therefore provide a separate washing facilities for boys and girls as part of this project. 

Water is extremely important in managing and maintaining hygiene. Currently the school has no running water  we will therefore install a rain harvest system to enable the school increase its hygiene levels. It is well documented that poor sanitation leads to increased incidences of diseases, which directly affects students’ performance and school results.

Keep an eye on this space for updates

Update on the Rwentojo chicken program

As we count down to the distribution day our Program Managers have been busy getting the women in Rwentojo ready. There have been several training sessions, coop construction and inspection and a lots of laughter along the way. Here are some pics from those activities. 

chicken

In this session, the women learned about chicken feeding and farm management, in particular the importance of keeping the coops clean and dry

carpenter at work
Our local carpenter has been very busy. he has had to measure the coops and make up doors for each one from scratch  

chicken coop door

Following the training session, the doors to the chicken coops were distributed

chicken

Here is one of the finished chicken coops.. I bet they had fun putting this together.


Under a semi intensive poultry farming system, water is an important aspect in the care of the chickens, so drinkers are part of the equipment the women need on their farms

send a chicken

We expect that it will be 5 months before the hens start laying eggs and as such the women will not have sufficient income to feed the chicks before then. We have therefore included three months’ chickenfeed.

Distributing building materials

Our next send a chicken program is focused on the village of Rwentojo in Itojo sub-county. The participants are mostly widows or single women with children. As well as providing hands on training on farm management we have provided the basics for coop construction

These photos are from our materials distribution session. Each woman received 5 iron sheets, 2 and 1/2 kg of nails, 11 metres of wire mesh and 50,000 UGX (£11.81) to contribute towards the cost of labour.

Keep an eye on this page for the women’s journey.

International Day of the Girl Child

11 October is International Day of the  Girl Child.. One of the reason we exist is to ensure that girls are not disadvantaged socially and economically because of their gender. Whilst I am happy to celebrate the Girl Child, I really wish we didn’t need days like this.

The reason for this is articulated by the UN

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems…..

sewing class
Girls from our sewing class showing off the skirts they made as part of their homework

We have been doing some work with adolescent girls in Itojo district SW Uganda. These girls are not in employment, education or training , the so called NEETS   and form part the 14 Million young people in Uganda that are without a job due to lack of skills. The life outcomes for such girls are well documented but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We have shared with you the outcome of our Skills Development program for these girls and they have been learning about fashion design and the results are amazing

girl
From left to right: Ovious, Evas and Evelyne.

As part their training, the girls are provided with fabric to experiment and design something. At the end of  the first semester the girls were able to design a full outfit. As you can see from the photograph above they are now proficient in dress making.

Our aim with this program is to ensure that girls acquire skills they can use to either create their own employment or seek employment elsewhere.

We would like to offer this opportunity to many more such girls in Itojo Sub-county. You can support our efforts by making a donation to our fundraising at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls

Menstrual Hygiene Management and the Girl Child

Access to hygienic menstrual absorbents has implications for the Girl child such as missing 2.6 days of school each month in the short term but in the long run this absenteeism may and does lead to girls dropping out of school altogether.

Our work on Menstrual Hygiene Management  in secondary schools in Ntungamo District in Uganda indicates that we have a long way to go to change outcomes for the Girl Child

NtungamoOn average:

  • 53% of the girls didn’t know what menstruation was before they experienced it
  • 61% of the girls have felt ashamed or embarrassed due to their periods
  • 42% of the girls miss days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products
  • They miss 2.6 days of school a month which impacts negatively in their performance.
    Students change their sanitary products every 9 hours.

Ntungamo

Our team looked into how girls in Ntungamo secondary schools manage their periods and how they access to menstrual hygiene absorbents, and these are their findings;

  • 48% of the students feel bad or very bad during their MPs
  • 73% of the students use reusable pads but on average they change them every 9 hours which is not hygienic or healthy
  • 13% of the students use reusable sanitary pads at school and a cloth at home
  • 9.1% of the students use a cloth
  • 4.4% of the students use leaves, mattress stuffing, toilet paper or nothing at all

It is 2016 and the fact that this is still the situation in some of the schools means that we will need days like for sometime to come. But it does not have to be this way if we work together.

Help us make a difference by supporting our MHM work for as a little as £1.

  • £1 provides a girl one pod that include a napkin and a holder
  • £5 provides a girl a full kit
  • £10 provides two full kits
  • £20 provides 4 full kits

The pod and kits last for three years making this a cost effective way of managing periods. Please donate to our Sanitary Pads 4 Girls program today via our Virgin Money page

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/sanitarypads4girls

Send a chicken Phase 2 gets under way

Following the success of  the first round SEND A CHICKEN TO AN AFRICAN WOMAN we have  launched phase 2.

One of the lessons from phase 1 was that covering more than one village cell at a time was a strain on resources. For this reason, we are focusing on the village of Rwentojo. We will also have fewer participants and more chickens.

Selecting participants

Our Project Managers worked with the village Chairman on identifying and interviewing. His preselected group included women who are head of households in his village such as widows  as well as those who apparently cannot rely on their husbands either because they’re never around or are  alcoholics.

It was interesting to note that some women excluded themselves from the project because they felt they could not give it their full commitment, whilst some worried about being able to provide materials for constructing chicken coops.

Our Project Managers were surprised by some of the women’s reactions and had this to say,

For once, it was so refreshing in a way to realise that people are not just willing to take things for free just cause someone is offering them but instead they are already thinking of the challenges they may face. This shows: a higher level of commitment and willingness only to join if they believe they are capable of committing to the project and in this case taking good care of the chickens; that they’re not used to getting things for free; and that they do really need the help we will be providing them. 

In fact, one of them has told us we should leave her out as she spends most of her time digging (for others) and collecting fibres and grasses to weave baskets… We tried to convince her but she told us she would not forgive herself if any of her chickens died…It is a real shame as she could really use the help!

About some of the interviewees

Send A chicken

Jovlet, she’s a 46 year-old widow who works other people’s land to get an income. She has 6 children but 4 of them already dropped out of school as she could not afford to continue paying school fees for them.

Send a chicken 

Anna, she’s a 40 year old widow who has 3 children and makes her monthly income selling sugar canes in a small trading centre

send a chicken

Sylvia, a mother of 5 and one more on the way. She’s married but her husband spends most of the money he makes burning charcoal on alcohol especially a local gin called Waragi 

Send a chicken

Topista, a 50 year-old widow who lives with two of her grandchildren. She spends her days digging and collecting fibres and grass to weave baskets. She doesn’t think she will be able to join the project as she will not have enough time to take care of the chickens. 

send a chicken

Mariserina, a 40 year-old widow, who has 3 children one of whom is disabled. She is a coffee farmer and uses the income to pay her children’s fees. She is also a casual labourer on other people’s farms. 

Os, Annet and Chairman
Os (Program Manager)  Annett and Chairman David

Annett  is a 43 year old widow and mother of 4. She is a labourer and sues that income to pay her her children’s fees. She’s very proud that at least one of them has completed P7. Unfortunately, she cannot afford to send her child to a secondary school so she will be starting to work as a labourer like her in order to support the family. 

Rwentojo

The first training session on Poultry Farm Management and Housing took place on Monday.  some amongst the group were in for a shock. They arrived late for the meeting and fellow participants required them to pay a fine. The group has also decided to form a management committee that will coordinate their affairs. 

Phase 2 is now well and truly underway. Keep an eye on this space for updates

Catching up with our buck-keepers

In my last post the goats had arrived. Os our Program Manager caught up with the Buck-keepers and here is what he discovered.

Buck keeper

Maria is one of our buck-keepers has opted for a semi intensive approach for her goats. She takes them with her when she is working the land and brings them back in when she’s finished. They look extremely healthy and it seems the female may be pregnant… Well done, Maria!!

buck- kee

Lydia is the second buck keeper. She keeps her goats zero grazing, meaning that they do not go out to graze but the grasses and vegetation is brought to them in their penn. The male may need extra feeding but the female is doing great and may be pregnant too!

buck keeper

Jovannis, is our third buck keeper. She has required further training on the care of the buck to ensure that it is healthy.

Caring for the bucks is a big job and we are grateful to Maria, Lydia and Jovannis for the work they have put in this far.

I am excited about the first kids but we will not for sometime when we can expect them

Stay tuned

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