Covid-19 demanded quick and effective changes in the way we worked during 2020.
Uganda announced a strict lockdown which helped reduce virus spread but left families unable to earn any money. People in the Namatala slum already live life on the edge and in this crisis we saw a surge in hunger, violence, theft, family breakdown and murder.
When the schools closed, relieving hunger became the top priority and we launched emergency appeals raising a total of £68979 in 2020. We provided food vouchers to around 700 families (600 families of our pupils, plus other desperately needy families).
Here’s what we did
• teachers continued educating pupils through home working resources and home visits;
• our two exam years (Primary 7 and Senior 4) were allowed back to school from October 20, so that they could receive the education they needed to have the best opportunity to pass their exams.
• the family support team gave advice and help to families, including counselling. They provided community training about Covid 19, especially hygiene measures, helping to keep people safe.
• we carried out health monitoring and addressed the issues of malnutrition in our vulnerable children, including those with sickle-cell anaemia.
• sick children received the medical attention they needed from the school nurse.
• kept in touch with families to monitor children’s safety.
Many children in Namatala spent their days hunting for whatever food or work they could find and some were found begging alcohol dregs. There was a rise in teenage alcohol problems and pregnancies. By contrast, Child of Hope girls were active in supporting their mothers – a protective factor that kept them safe, whilst the boys, too, were better supported and more gainfully occupied.
Major achievements in 2020
• Our new secondary school opened, with 97 former pupils previously supported at fee-paying secondary schools, meaning we could provide a high standard of education.
• At our nursery/primary school we had 496 slum children on roll (136 in the nursery department and 360 in primary). 21 young people were supported at Vocational Colleges on a variety of courses including teacher training, electronics, engineering, agriculture, catering and hairdressing.
• In emergency support of families through a voucher system, we gave out 44 tons of maize flour, 20 tons of beans, 7,000 packets of salt and 3 tons of soap, ensuring that these families did not go hungry.
• Unlike many schools across Uganda, Child of Hope maintained the employment of its staff. This enabled continuity of educational provision and also enabled them to continue supporting their own families.
• We bought necessary science equipment for our secondary school, this will facilitate high quality, practical teaching in science subjects.
• Graduation of vocational training students having completed their certificated courses included: 1 student of electrical installation, 3 students of carpentry, 1 student of mechanics, 2 students of agriculture, 2 students of tailoring, 2 students of hairdressing and 1 student of catering.
• Foster family placements were maintained for 31 vulnerable children, allowing orphaned or at risk children to live in a place of safety.
• A solar-powered pump with water tank and tower was added to the well at our nursery/primary school, improving access to clean and safe water, even in drought.
• Through a grant, we upgraded and extended solar power at the primary school.
• Our small business support programme supports families with training and an initial business start-up grant (around £26) to help provide a regular income. In 2020, 324 parents were unable to continue running their businesses during lockdown but are being supported to recover with mentoring from staff and access to a new micro-finance project.
• Community members received preventative education in health care and environmental hygiene. We made and handed out 2000+ masks, showed people how to build wooden washstands from sticks and string to keep dishes off the ground and to use ‘tip tap’ water dispensers with a pedal to avoid touching the mechanism.
• We were awarded a grant to install an irrigation system at our rice fields to improve production and grow crops throughout the year.
We introduced local initiatives to contribute to the overall sustainable funding of Child of Hope:
• Spare capacity in the secondary school allows us to accept fee-paying students that contribute to running costs;
• a new tree growing business will provide income from timber sold to the building industry;
• solar power, wells and rainwater harvesting systems are helping the schools become self-sufficient in electricity and water.
As our IGA mothers were not allowed to travel to their fields at Himuntu, local people were recruited to grow green peppers, rice, potatoes and watermelons, rice and sweet potatoes. Despite extensive floods and huge locust swarms in the country, the produce was successfully harvested and sold at subsidised rates to people in need, with some proceeds helping to fund our IGA work.
This is a short version based on our Annual Impact Report (2020); to see the full version, click here