Monthly Archives: July 2018

Treading inaccessible paths to provide medical services

For almost two years since conflict engulfed the Yei River State in 2016, communities in Abegi boma in Otogo County had no access to medical services. The area has been under the control of opposition factions that restricted citizens’ movement to government-controlled areas where medical services could be accessed.

Residents in the village resorted to using traditional herbs such as tree roots and leaves for treatment of various diseases, including malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid, respiratory diseases, and pregnancy complications.

A 2015 Report by the World Health Organization and the World Bank indicates that at least 400 million people do not have access to one or more essential health services. Most of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

An emergency response by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), made medical services available to the people of Abegi. One of the people who benefitted is 36-year-old Susan Opani, suffering from vaginal bleeding for 6 days due to a miscarriage. “I was attended to by a traditional birth attendant who gave me traditional herbs intended to stop the bleeding. But I only seemed to get worse. On the local radio station, my husband heard about medical services being jointly offered by AAH-I and UNMISS.

 

AAH South Sudan maternal healthProvision of maternal and child health services in a newly established static clinic for internally displaced people in Yei

 

With funding support from the Health Pooled Fund, AAH-I is implementing a health project whose goal is to improve access to, use and quality of primary health care services and emergency obstetric and newborn care services, and to increase access to nutrition services particularly for pregnant women and young children  health workers. A separate objective is to support the strengthening of key stewardship functions of the Ministry of Health in South Sudan.

“Having lost a lot of blood due to bleeding for 6 days, Susan received life-saving intravenous fluids and drugs to completely expel retained contents in her uterus,” says AAH-I’s Yei Community Mobilization Officer Worker Agnes Nyoka. In June 2018 at least 200 women received antenatal care services and over 500 children were immunized through the health interventions.

I can now run my business better: Safiya’s story

32-year-old Safiya Yusuf, a mother of one boy aged 9, returned to her home country Somalia in 2015. She had been living in Yemen since the year 2000, just after the crisis began in Somalia.

“Life in Yemen was very difficult. One of the key challenges I faced was financial because job opportunities were rare for Somali women. Raising my child under these circumstances was not easy,” she says. “Having been away from home for 15 years, returning home was not easy either. I did not know where to begin to pick the pieces of my life but I was determined to be patient and live a new and fulfilling life here in Hargeisa. I am happy that I can now run my own grocery business.”

AAH Somalia business grantSafiya at her stall at Idaacada market in Hargeisa

Safiya alongside 50 other returnees arrived in Berbera in September 2015 and received, through Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), the UNHCR Assisted Spontaneous Returnees (ASR) package at the Berbera Reception Center. The USD
$200 ASR is given to Somali returnees. AAH-I is implementing this Somali returnee project with funding from UNHCR

“I spent only one day in Berbera and travelled with my son to Hargeisa the next day. We used the money to buy food, clothes and rent for the first month. The ASR complemented the support I received from my relatives.”

“While in Hargeisa the Somali returnee Committee told me about AAH-I’s livelihoods and self-reliance programme being run at the Peaceful Coexistence Centre (PCC). I visited the PCC for the first time in February 2016”. This programme offers returnees, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people an opportunity to learn language or attend a business or vocational training class. “I attended a returnee induction session with 49 other returnees. Later I took up classes in literacy and numeracy being offered at the PCC so that I can manage my business better.”

“After four months I applied for and qualified to receive a business grant that I used to open a grocery shop here in Hargeisa. The knowledge I received from a 5-day entrepreneurship and business skills training at the PCC have helped me to refine my business plan.” Safiya continued to focus on improving her life and took up a tailoring course at the AAH-I-run Skills and Production Centre, funded by UNHCR. After 6 months she successfully graduated and received certification in February 2017.

“I will remember September 2017 for a long time. This is when my tailoring business was officially opened in the busy Idaacada Market in Hargeisa. I am making enough money to not only support my family’s household needs, but I am now saving some money at the end of every month. I am happy to be self- employed.”

Peer knowledge exchange and learning

20 women participating in REFLECT adult literacy classes in Narok County visited Chache Community-Based Centre, Thurdibuoro Learning Resource Centre and Nyando Community-Based Organization in Nyando in Kisumu County. The objective of the exposure visits was to give the learners from Narok an opportunity to get insights into not only learning about the management of REFLECT circles, but also about doing sustainable businesses and improving their livelihoods from their peers in Kisumu.

Using the REFLECT learning approach, the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) has been implementing an adult literacy project in Narok County since October 2017. The adult literacy classes are under a 3-year project (2017- 2019) funded by Bread for the World,  covering Naikarra, Siana and Ilomtiok Wards. The goal is to contribute to sustainably improved livelihoods and social and economic participation for the pastoralist community in Maasai Mara.

They women visited other adult learning classes that have evolved from being only literacy and numeracy classes, to being enterprise hubs with activities ranging from farming to table banking.

The first stop was at the Chache Centre. Chache members are engaged in activities such as dressmaking, farming (maize, groundnuts and beans) and livestock production. “Given the challenge of food and income insecurity in this area, we are working together with Chache members to find sustainable solutions as a community. We want communities become self-reliant,” said Community Facilitator Senkele Johnstone.

 

AAH Kenya adult literacyChache member Esther Otieno (2nd right) and Community Facilitator Senkele Johnstone (3rd right) explaining the fabrication process of a food warmer. The food warmers keep food warm for 4 to 6 hours.

 

AAH Kenya visit NyandoChache Centre Secretary Helen (2nd left) explaining how they are able to achieve a good vegetable harvest from their farms.

 

Chache Centre’s Joshua Gulla (second right) talking about table banking, capital raising and member defaulter management

“Seeing how Chache Centre group members are using the knowledge and skills acquired from their literacy and numeracy classes to run their businesses and try out new business ideas has really motivated us,” said learner 22-year-old mother of two Purity Nkoyo from Narok. “I now appreciate that education is good because it is exposing us to many opportunities. I felt the desire to learn how to read and write from an early age. My biggest challenge was not being able to write or count or express myself in Swahili.”

34-year-old mother of six Nairochi Koikai from Narok echoes her sentiments. “Seeing what other adult learners are able to achieve is encouraging to us because it shows that we did not make a mistake when we started going to school late in life. We can still see some of our dreams come true for us and our families. I really wanted to know how to read. I was totally dependent on my husband. I once travelled alone and we were given keys to our rooms. We went out and when we returned I wasn’t able to locate my room because I didn’t how to read. Now that I am literate I can care for myself.”

Next they visited the Thurdibuoro Learning Resource Centre, a school with 109 learners (97 female and 12 male). “We began with only 10 members in 1998. I am excited to see this growth. At this Centre our learners benefit from adult literacy classes and engage in business ventures such as farming, table banking and school uniform tailoring,” says Centre co-founder Jane Adoyo. She has been a part-time teacher at the Centre since its inception.

 

Thurdibuoro Learning Resource Centre’s Jane Adoyo Agire (standing, middle) explaining good agricultural practices to participants

 

The last stop was a visit to Nyando CBO Learning Centre. “We are engaged in literacy classes, child day care services, basket making and farming. There is also an ICT centre under development for youth in the area to gain digital skills. The goal of all these initiatives is to improve the livelihoods of our members,” said adult literacy instructor Ida Odero. “Many women were illiterate and couldn’t sign or write their names. They are engaged in businesses but could not give change and suffered a lot of income losses as they didn’t know how to manage their accounts They were unable to evaluate whether they had made a profit or not. I have noticed a change in how the women now conduct their businesses. They are now keeping records and can keep track of their business.”

“Through participation in this CBO I have gotten knowledge that has helped me to maximize my agricultural production. I could not use my phone. I could not receive calls, make calls or even write text messages. But now I can read the numbers. Now I can even participate in table banking and have learnt how to keep records and I can say that I now manage my business better, “ said Joel Chiaga Kaguma from Nyando, a rice, maize and potatoes farmer and learner at the centre.

AAH-I Ereto 2 REFLECT Circle facilitator Steven Karbolo says that exposure visits help adult learners to relate with the experiences, lessons and challenges of their peers. They are able to relate to other people’s ventures. “The women in Kisumu County have been using their own resources and making a living with little outside help. I hope that this inspires the learners from Narok County. Through the literacy classes I have seen them progressively understand numbers and counting, which is making their business management a lot easier.”

Emmanuel’s story: A chance for a better education

Emmanuel Ndikusheya joins his classmates in the Senior 3 class at Kyangwali Boys Secondary School in Uganda. His favourite subjects are History and Physics. He, like a majority of his classmates, is a refugee. Fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Emmanuel arrived in Uganda in October 2008. Together with his parents, four brothers and three sisters, they settled at the Kyangwali refugee settlement.

Their immediate need at the refugee settlement was protection, food and shelter. Emmanuel’s dream for continuing his education seemed to be fading away. “I spent many lonely days with my age-mates at the settlement. Most of us were in school back at home, but even finding a book to read was not easy,” he says.

“Three years ago my parents, through refugee committees at the settlement, got to know about education opportunities being offered to orphans and other vulnerable children. I qualified to receive this kind of support, and was excited to receive a scholarship for my secondary education through Action Africa Help International (AAH-I).” Kyangwali Boys Secondary School received government-aided status and has enrolled at least 796 students (530 male and 266 female). Of these 454 are refugees and 342 are Ugandan nationals. 24 orphans and vulnerable children have received scholarships for secondary education.

With funding support from UNHCR, AAH-I is implementing a multi-sectoral programme in Kyangwali Settlement (Hoima District) in Uganda. The programme strives to improve the quality of life for refugees and nationals through supporting self-reliance and livelihoods and the systematic integration of social services delivery with local government systems. Supporting access to quality education is one of the projects under this multi-sectoral programme.

 

AAH Uganda educationEmmanuel at his desk at Kyangwali Boys Secondary School


The goal of the education project is to actively enroll out-of-school and school dropout children at the Kyangwali refugee settlement, and devise strategies for retaining and monitoring their learning achievements. As at December 2017, the project registered a 15% increase of children aged 3-5 yrs enrolled in early childhood development centres – 2,085 registered in September 2016 compared to 2,995 in December 2017.

“Although it took Emmanuel some time to settle down at the school, we are proud of his progress and achievements. He is determined to make the best out of this opportunity,” says Headteacher Isingoma Patrick. “My dream is to become a mechanical engineer. I want to build beautiful and functional homes,” says Emmanuel.

AAH Uganda education
Emmanuel with Deputy Headteacher Babyesiza Samuel (L) and Isingoma Patrick (R)