Monthly Archives: August 2016

Women and men reproductive health ambassadors

They joyfully and freely support expectant women. It is akin to giving a sisterly hand. Forty women are engaged in these services. One of them is Cecilia Auma, 55, who has been promoting safe women delivery for the last five years in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Uganda. She is elated and full of satisfaction for these services, and the support she has given to over 2000 women, in a period spanning close to 30 years.

“I have been working as a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) for close to 30 years, and as a safe motherhood promoter five 30 years,” says Auma, a South Sudanese mother of ten, who came to Kyangwali in 2001. She adds: “I have been teaching women on safe motherhood and I have even escorted some of them to hospitals to give birth.”

Another motherhood promoter, Sarafina Nyirabazungu, 49, has been offering the services for the last 16 years. The mother of nine has been encouraging women to visit qualified health providers at least four times during their pregnancy. Nyirabazungu uses the skills she has received to convince the expectant women.

“Sister Joan has taught us a lot and we are willing to share with our fellow women so that they can also raise healthy children,” says Nyirabazungu, in reference to Joan Omoting, a Primary Health Care (PHC) Officer for AAH Uganda in Kyangwali.

Omoting says both Cecilia and Sarafina are qualified TBAs, though they had to stop after the government of Uganda outlawed TBAs, in 2010. The government argued that they were not knowledgeable to prevent Mother-to-child HIV/AIDs transmission. “We decided to bring them on board as safe delivery community champions popularly known as safe motherhood promoters,” she explains. The women are provided with training on family planning, antenatal care, safe motherhood and danger signs; child spacing and immunisation. “After the training we commission them to be both community educators and also the first contact point between the women and the health care facilities.”

Men are also involved in the reproductive health. Masudi Busimba, 73, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a father of 15, is one of them. “I teach out of experience and passion for women issues. I focus on men. Through the community training, I urge men to also get involved in reproductive health issues,” says Busimba, who came to Kyangwali in 2009 after fleeing from his country in 2002, due to war.

He says he understands the challenges of a having a big family. “I recently underwent a vasectomy. “It (undergoing vasectomy) is enough proof that men can also support our women on family planning issues,” he argues.

The safe motherhood promoters have drastically reduced child mortality, as a result of their campaigns. However, they face a number of challenges. For example, they lack portable testing kits, gum bots and rain coats. In addition, poor road network affects their movements when it rains.

Yemeni refugee’s hope for better life despite war in his country

Gamal Hasan Othman, 56, is a Yemeni refugee currently living in Mogadishu, Somalia. When Gamal’s hometown of Sanaa was bombed six months ago, Gamal got separated from his wife and children. He was forced to seek refuge in Somalia. “I am single,” he smiles cheekily as he narrates his story to AAH Somalia’s Monica Mwangi.

He hopes to be among the one hundred Yemeni refugees that will be supported through Cash-Based Interventions (CBI) project, being implemented by AAH Somalia. This is for self-reliance and primary education in Shangani and Bexani Districts of Mogadishu. The support is through funding of USD 275,347 from UNHCR. Fifty Yemeni refugee children of primary school age in the same area will also benefit from the three-month project that started in October.

Another project seeks to improve the livelihoods of at least 100 adult Somali returnees from Kenya and 150 Somali returnee children of primary school age in the two districts. The support is provided using CBI for primary education and self-reliance. The project received USD 309, 587 from UNHCR for the three-month project.

Youth in South Sudan get chance to acquire vocational skills

Twenty South Sudanese youth could have grown into adulthood without any skills, hence with minimal hopes of securing a source of income. But that is not the case anymore thanks to AAH South Sudan’s humanitarian project in Unity State. They are now undergoing vocational training in leather making

The three-month training is aimed at equipping the youth with practical skills for making footwear. Some of the beneficiaries are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who fled their homes due to the conflict in South Sudan and others are from the host community.

AAH South Sudan started the footwear-making training in Ajuong Thok Refugee Camp, in Unity State at the start of September. This training is a second phase of the life skills training programme that started in 2014. Twelve youth acquired skills in leather-craft production. It involves production of various leather-made items such as belts, bags, wallets, menu covers, key holders, among others using synthetic leather.

The 12 graduates from last year’s programme are currently running their workshops located in Ajuong Thok Refugee Camp and at Yida.

Edward Butrus, 27, is excited to be one of the trainees. Butrus arrived in Ajuong Thok Refugee Camp at the end of 2013, fleeing war in the Nuba Mountains as well as to seek education opportunity. “I joined school and managed to sit for the Sudan Certificate,” he says, adding that the training will help him develop skills that will enable him earn a living. “With limited hope to further my education, I find this training a great opportunity to improve my life and also serve the community,” he says.

NemaAshabath, another beneficiary of the training, is determined not to let her past interfere with her future. Ashabath, 23, left Nuba Mountains with her sister in in 2012. “I went to Pariang where I continued with my schooling, before moving to Ajoung Thok in October 2014,” she says, adding that her father died in 1999. She says the skills she will acquire from the training will help her to be self-employed.