In Uganda there is free education at both primary and secondary education levels. However, orphans and other vulnerable children face a lot of challenges and problems that force them to drop out of school. These children lack the equipment which is essential to support them at school, such as uniforms, pens, books, pocket money, and food. Some may even need support for their guardians at home through agriculture credit.
As a matter of fact many of these orphans and vulnerable children find their way onto streets of Kabale, looking for ways of obtaining these requirements. In order to meet these needs, therefore, COVUCA has been established.
What COVUCA is
COVUCA is a community-based organisation, operating in Kabale District of south western Uganda with the mission to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and their families in Kabale. Its objectives are :
- to increase awareness, prevention, control and care support interventions concerning HIV/AIDS,
- to support initiatives and awareness programmes,
- to empower children living with HIV/AIDS, youth and vulnerable groups,
- to establish anti-AIDS peer support clubs in schools.
- to provide training in abstinence and faithfulness as components of a prevention campaign about HIV/AIDS for schools, for youth out of school and for guardians of orphans and vulnerable children.
What COVUCA does
To achieve these objectives, COVUCA promotes a variety of activities :
* It undertakes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention initiatives.
* It improves the lives of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS by strengthening the community and managing responses to meet the needs of orphans and vulnerable children with those looking after them, especially grandmothers.
* COVUCA offers school fees to thirty primary pupils and twenty secondary students. There are ten technical students and fifty other students whom we provide with scholastic materials such as pens, pencils books and uniforms for their respective schools.
* The organisation has established an agriculture credit scheme that seeks to provide small loans for the grandparents of these children, since these guardians are always engaged in agriculture. This will help them to have enough food to support their families and have surplus to sell as a way of sustaining themselves and providing food for these children. This credit will also raise incomes in order to support these grandparents in future, and so offer greater security in their livelihoods through sustainable agriculture and food programmes.
* The Association has established a committee of five people who monitor the activities of the organisation. The committee is comprised of two men and three women, and they go into schools, visiting the orphans twice a term to make sure that the children have all they require. They also visit the children’s guardians to check on their needs.
How COVUCA is funded
The Association is composed of twenty-five members who contribute monthly towards the fund from their meagre incomes to support the 110 students mentioned above. To provide support for an orphan requires about $600 per annum.
Since COVUCA’s funds are still small, we are seeking more partners and donors to help in looking after these orphans and vulnerable children, and to provide support for their families and guardians, especially their grandmothers.
Following the implementation of the objectives listed above, the Association expects the following results :
* improved lives for orphans and vulnerable children and their guardians,
* increased awareness of HIV/AIDS,
* reduced incidence of HIV/AIDS among youth, orphans, and vulnerable children,
* 100 orphans and vulnerable children supported to access education each year.
Although COVUCA has already met the needs of many children, there is considerable demand for further support. If we access more funds we shall expand our services to many orphans and vulnerable children and their guardians who look after them through the provisions of fees and scholastic material. We therefore call upon people of good will to reach out to meet the needs of these children and their guardians and any contribution and support which can be provided in helping these children will be greatly appreciated.
In the August edition of the Webmag, we explained that a study of social work files covering the last three or four decades had suggested that there were lessons for today’s practitioners. For the purpose of this series, six topics have been chosen, and in each case, David Lane describes what he has found out from the files, and Chris Durkin comments from the viewpoint of current practice and teaching about social work. It should be emphasised that the Lessons will all focus on general issues, and will not disclose any confidential information.