Over 2.2 million children in Uganda have lost either one or both of their parents to AIDS. They have very limited support – often none at all and most of these children are taken care of by elderly grandparents who, because of their age and disabilities, often cannot provide the support (financial or otherwise) that the child needs. Many of these children are left homeless and end up on the streets, which can leave them at risk of sexual and physical abuse.
In addition to the trauma of losing a parent, orphans have to go without many basic human needs, including food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. While the African extended family traditionally steps in to support orphans, the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has overburdened this traditional safety net. Obtaining primary education is an elusive goal for these children and most cannot afford the required school uniforms, lunch, shoes, books and other education related fees.
Orphan Education Support
The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that all children, regardless of wealth, disability, illness or religion, have access to education. The right to education is a basic human right but unfortunately, due to poverty, many children in rural Uganda are unable to attend school. This project provides school-related costs including school fees, lunch, school materials - books, pens and pencils - and school uniforms to orphaned children to ensure they attend and remain in school. Currently the project is reaching out to over 250 orphaned children in both primary and secondary community schools in Mityana, Lwengo, Wakiso and Rakai districts.
In Uganda, many girls are treated as inferior to their male counterparts, which means they miss out on educational opportunities and are forced into child labour or arranged marriages. The Advancing Girl's Education (A.G.E) initiative is aimed specifically at young girls who have been deprived of education due to social perceptions and economic hardships. Education is crucial to ending the cycle of poverty and communities need to work together to help girls reach their full potential. Many of the girls that have benefited from this education initiative have now advanced to high schools, universities and other institutions. We believe that their achievements will inspire many more girls to pursue higher education in the future. This should not be a rarity, but a necessity.
In this programme, ACO Africa organises and runs education sessions for children currently not attending school - usually in the school holidays. Due to the workload of children in Uganda, we like to combine education, fun and food! We run useful sessions on sanitation and hygiene, health and safety, and nutrition, among others. We also play games and sports, arts and crafts and run music sessions. Many of the children that attend these sessions have to walk long distances and most survive on only one meal per day. During these sessions, ACO Africa provides a substantial breakfast and lunch for the children along with drinking water. These sessions are great way for the children to socialise, play and have fun, in contrast to their normal day-to-day life spent fetching water, completing chores and farming. The feedback we received from the children was very positive and the confidence we witnessed in the children after the sessions was remarkable!