Great to see Ripple Africa acting so quickly to get their Covid-19 emergency plan into action on the ground. Fonthill have supported the vital communication element of their comprehensive plan. Why communication? The importance of this is clearly explained in this recent update from the Charity.

Thank you! First we want to say a huge thank you for choosing to support the children we work with during this crisis. We know there must been a huge demand for your support, and we are very, very grateful.

Below is an update on what you have helped us to achieve for vulnerable children and families in the slums of Kampala during lock down.

I wrote it but I don’t think it conveys just what a lifeline your support has been to so many families who have been left destitute by the crisis. Your support means that they have not had to put themselves at further risk to go out begging for food, they’ve not starved, children have had access to food, medication and their wellbeing is being safeguarded. For this we give our heartfelt thanks – you have made it possible for Flo, Grace and team to help the most vulnerable. THANK YOU.

Food distribution

Volunteers have been working all the hours they can to help ensure children don’t hungry, are safe and getting their meds. We’re really proud of what they have achieved. They’ve been so efficient at packing and distributing, and negotiated great costs for bulk buying of the food stuff.

As you will see , we also raised funds through an appeal that we’ve able to use alongside yours. Because of your support we’ve been able to reach more than 2000 people in over 170 of the most vulnerable households with vital food support. As a priority we targeted the children in our education programme (orphaned and vulnerable children) and their families as they have already been identified as amongst the most vulnerable in the community.

However, we were also able to extend the programme to other vulnerable women and children – some that were known to us and others that we have been identified during lock down. One of the families our volunteers found in the community after reports from a local counsellor, was a young woman (20) and her young son.

The young woman was married at 17 and gave birth to her son at 18. After had her son she started getting ill, she was tested for HIV and found she was positive. She told her husband who then beat her and left them. Before lockdown she had been scrapping a living by selling sweets on the roadside. She had no other way of making money and has not been able to buy food for months. Both her and her son have missed two months medication because they were not allowed to walk to the health centre to get their anti-retroviral medication.

When our volunteers found them, they were suffering the effects of coming off their ARTs and malnutrition. With your support we were able to help them with some emergency food supplies and get them back on to their medication. After lockdown, we will look at how we can support her with skill and business training so she can support herself and help get her son into school.

Safeguarding and sexual health/rights

One of our big concerns during lock down is safeguarding of children, especially girls. When the Ebola outbreak struck in 2014, teenage pregnancy spiked as incidents of coercion and assault soared, and many girls were married early to reduce  their financial ‘burden’ on their families.

So, alongside the long list of activities that community volunteers are delivering, they have also been closely monitoring children’s health and wellbeing and delivering sexual reproductive health rights information and support.

Education packs

Candidate level students were due to reconvene at school in early June, but the President announced in his speech that school opening will now be delayed until at least mid-July. The government has issued education packs online, that our team have been printing and distributing to our students.

On your bike!

With thanks to some other wonderful donors, we’ve been able to distribute two bikes to our community volunteers who have been covering a lot of ground in their daily rounds (In Uganda people were able to move around on bikes during set times). Grace (in the photograph) walks around 15k plus in a day doing her monitoring and support work in Bwaise. Getting around by bike is being trialled and if successful we will seek to get funding for more bikes and cycle training for the team.

On the radio!

Flo was invited to speak on Bukedde local radio, about how COVID-19 is impacting on women, children and people living with HIV in the slum areas, and how Awamu and others are helping to create safe environments during the lockdown.

Looking forward

We are planning one more distribution in mid-June to help bridge the gap as lock down is phased out. Subject to rules (and judgement on the situation nearer the time) we are planning to resume our training programme in mid-July.

It’s going to be more vital than ever to help get people back on their feet and able to earn a living. We are looking at how we can extend skills training to more people without overcrowding the spaces we have or impacting on the training that current students receive.  We are currently looking at suitable spaces, budgets for machines and putting proposals together for this.

We’re also looking at how to extend our sexual reproductive rights programme to more young people through peer counselling (to help keep girls in school) and looking for new ways to get more girls into school. The demand for this support is growing, as people’s income has dropped off, we can see that girls education is one of the first costs to be cut, especially if they are needed at home for chores.

This is a very brief overview of what you have been making possible in Bwaise. The impact your funds have made has been immense on the lives of children and vulnerable families. Flo, Grace and the teams in Bwaise send their love and thanks for making it possible to reach some many people in need.

Best wishes from everyone at Awamu.