Children and women are the most affected categories of people by the violent insurgency and its effects in Northern Uganda which pitted the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels fighting with Uganda Government troops from 1986 to 2006. Acholi sub region was the epicenter of the conflict, and consequently the majority of people in the sub region are still living under difficult conditions due the effects of the violent conflict which devastated the area for two decades. Much as the people have resettled in their villages of origin and have embarked on rebuilding their livelihoods, they are still greatly negatively affected by abject poverty; gender-based violence; diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis B, nodding syndrome; and environmental degradation among other problems. The people of Acholi sub region are small scale subsistence farmers who grow crops such as maize, beans, sorghum, millet, and rear animals like goats, sheep, cattle, and local chicken. Most of what is produced is consumed at home while a small percentage is sold to earn money to buy basic necessities and pay for school fees, and meet the cost of medical care.
2. RATIONALE FOR THE PROPOSED PROJECT
For the recovery and long term development of post-conflict northern Uganda in general, and Acholi sub region in particular to be sustainable; crucial projects specially designed for improving the quality of life for children and women are needed to be fast-tracked by different stakeholders. This is premised on the fact that children are the future of society and without adequate nutrition, medical care and education, they will not be empowered enough to face the challenges of life when they are adults; and, also lay foundation for the generation after them. Meanwhile women face cultural bias in terms of sexual and gender-based violence and yet they contribute more to farm and household labor than men. Women are also overburdened with reproduction, while young girls face abuse in forms of rape, defilement which at times result into early pregnancy and birth, diseases like HIV/AIDS, and trauma.
3. PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The overall goal of the project is to improve the quality of life for vulnerable children and child mothers in Acholi subregion in Northern Uganda by providing appropriate early childhood development and educational sponsorship for the children; and, empowering child mothers through vocational skills training and educational sponsorship at primary and secondary levels.
The objectives of the project are:
• Promote positive mental attitude and mindset change amongst vulnerable children child mothers in particular, and, the community at large on the potential of the vulnerable children and child mothers to become productive and resourceful persons.
• Strengthen care and support for 120 vulnerable children and 120 child mothers in Acholi sub region through provision of personal effects, and accommodation within 3 years.
• Empower 120 vulnerable children and 120 child mothers in Acholi sub region with educational sponsorship at primary, secondary and vocational levels within 3 years.
4. PROJECT STRATEGIES AND PROJECT ACTIVITIES
The proposed project strategies will include:
A capacity building partnership approach will be used by the project to streamline capacities for response to the needs of vulnerable children and child mothers in Acholi sub region at the family, parish, sub county and district levels. The project will work with a range of community structures including village Local Council (LC), clan groupings, youth and women groups, religious institutions to build awareness of the plight and needs of vulnerable children and young women and build capacity for the identification, reporting and referral of incidents. Emphasis will also be directed at social mobilization and community led actions in response to identified risk factors. Project staff will work alongside parish, sub county and district local government staff to build capacities for the routine collection, compilation, and analysis of case and situation needed to influence program decisions.
Institutional capacity development. VOCFINU will build a children and women center that will comprise of the following facilities- meeting/training halls, library, recreation/playground, hostel, office spaces, and a bakery. The center will be used to accommodate vulnerable children and child mothers; train child mothers in bakery and produce bakery products for income generation; host the secretariat of the organization; and generate income through hire of office spaces, halls for meetings/workshops, hostels for accommodation for other students, and hosting events for the community.
Provision of care and education to vulnerable children and child mothers in terms of counseling, giving out of personal effects, accommodation for some needy ones, and sponsorship in primary, and secondary schools, and, vocational trainings.
The key activities to be carried out to achieve the objectives of the project are:
Objective 1: Promote positive mental attitude and mindset change.
Activity 1:1 Conduct awareness raising in the community on the plight of vulnerable children and child mothers through short messages on local FM radio stations.
Activity 1: 2 Meet with representatives of key community structures to plan for the welfare of vulnerable children and child mothers.
Activity 1: 3 Counsel vulnerable children and child mothers so that they can have positive mental attitude.
Objective 2: Strengthen care and support for vulnerable children and child mothers.
Activity 2:1 Construct a children and women center in Gulu city to cater for the needs of vulnerable children and child mothers.
Activity 2:2 Provide personal effects such as clothing, hygiene products, shoes, and food to vulnerable children and child mothers.
Activity 2:3 Accommodate very needy and vulnerable children and child mothers who lack safe place of abode.
Objective 3: Empower 120 vulnerable children and 120 child mothers in Acholi sub region.
Activity 3:1 Pay school fees for 120 vulnerable children and 120 child mothers in Acholi sub region at primary, secondary and vocational levels.
Activity 3:2 Train 200 child mothers in bakery at the organization’s center.
Activity 3.3 Produce various bakery products in the modern bakery facility.
Activity 3:4 Market bakery products, and, hire out facilities at the center to generate income.
5. EXPECTED RESULTS
• Community support for vulnerable children and child mothers in Acholi sub region improved in terms of acceptance, case management, referral, and social capital.
• 120 vulnerable children and 120 child mothers had their self-esteem, and, positive mental attitude restored.
• A multi-purpose children and women center established to offer facilities for trainings, meetings, accommodation for both the organization and others.
• 120 vulnerable children enrolled in school.
• 120 child mothers skilled in bakery, hairdressing, tailoring, and beauty therapy.
The proposed project is innovative in the following ways:
• The project will bring financial self-sustainability to the organization through sale of bakery products and hire of facilities at the center.
• The project will involve, and have full support from the community structures that will ensure sustainability of the initiative for a long time.
• The child mothers will have employable skills for income-generation, self-esteem boosting and life-long benefits.
7. ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND
VOCFINU is a non-profit organization helping children in Gulu in northern Uganda. Alice Lamunu, the founder of the organization has a big heart for vulnerable children as evidenced by a track record of sponsoring children in schools for 8 years using her own resources. The organization is registered in both United States of America and Uganda; and is positioned to become a model organization focused on assisting vulnerable children.