Volunteer Uganda Health Projects
Community Health Projects
Wherever in the world we live, health is the top priority for families. Of course, rural Uganda has particular challenges with Malaria, Tuberculosis, Typhoid and HIV. Simple, low-cost interventions such as clean water, innoculations and mosquito nets can make a dramatic difference.
Health projects fit into the wider CHIFCOD vision for important practical reasons. Children were missing school either because they were unwell themselves or because a family member needed looking after. This was sufficiently frequent to disrupt their learning. Therefore it was decided that the health projects should support not just the children attending the schools, but their wider families.
When children are old enough to work in the fields, families are under great economic pressure to keep them out of school. This significantly shortens their years of education and perpetuates the cycle of under-educated parents and under-educated children holding back development of the community.
But, when the child's attendance at school provides a healthcare facility for the family, the child is making an important contribution to the family by their work at school instead of their work in the fields. When you sponsor a child at one of the schools, you are helping the child and their wider family as well as helping to create an educated community that will be able to solve future problems without outside help.
Practical disease prevention
Malaria is a serious problem in the Bwindi area of Uganda and children at our schools frequently suffer attacks. Occasionally we hear the sad news that a child dies from complications following malaria.
The incidence of the disease can be significantly reduced simply by using malaria nets.
In October 2011, a family from North London gave £1,000 to provide every child at Kirima Primary School a mosquito net - a great example of how a little money can prevent so much unnecessary disease.
As well as developing education, volunteers have the opportunity to play a key role in our HIV/AIDS awareness outreach projects by giving talks in schools. Working alongside our NGO partners Mend the Broken Hearts, we teach our volunteers about HIV/AIDS and equip them with the knowledge to deliver life changing awareness talks to secondary school children. Our volunteers work to dispel the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and ensure that young people possess the knowledge vital to make informed decisions about their sexual health. Our volunteers’ presentations, which have proven to be remarkably successful, are also coupled with on-site testing. Consequently, for many volunteers, this aspect of the programme is a real highlight, as their impact on the lives of young people of Uganda is both tangible and immediate.
A major cause of poverty in Uganda is the very high fertility rate, which exceeds eight children per woman. This high fertility rate means that family's resources are too thinly spread to finance education and healthcare. This combines with the current subsistence farming culture which prevents education as children are kept at home to work. Research has shown that the education of young women is essential in lowering fertility rates. Our volunteers give talks and run session in schools, teaching about family planning. The family planning talks aim to educate young people on a range of contraception methods, teach the principles of sustainable family planning and empower young women to family plan so as to give themselves and their children a higher quality
The teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda is the highest in sub Saharan Africa. Over half of its girls give birth before reaching the age of 18. The average age of marriage is 17.8 years. These two factors lead to enormous drop out from education among young women. Volunteers have the optional opportunity to give lessons and talks at their placement schools delivering sex education children and teenagers. The talks aim to teach children about physical development and puberty, teach children about condoms and the risks associated with sex, and empower young people to have children later so as to complete their education and escape poverty.
As in many regions of rural Africa, lack of clean drinking water is a major human, health and economic problem in the area we work. It is hard for us in more developed countries to imaging having to get up early each morning to carry water from a stream for all our drinking, cooking and washing needs. Even where it is possible to pipe water from a stream, the quality of the water and the impossibility of purifying it means that the population, and especially children at our schools, suffer repeated bouts of illness.
For some children there is a real danger of death from animal attacks. Children routinely collect water a few feet from a pod of hippos. The economic damage is simply one of time. If you have to spend an hour or two each day collecting water, that is time you are not spending on more productive activities. This is a specific problem at schools, where children cannot attend if they have not collected water for their families needs in time for the start of the school day.
In all the work we do, it is vital that we research and understand the complex issues that make projects a real success and help permanently change people’ lives for the better.
If you are interested to understand the health needs of the community we support, you may find this Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2006 interesting to read.