LANDSLIDES & FLOODS HIT MBALE, SEBEI/KAPCHORWA REGION

Sadly, yet again, heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides last month in the Mbale region with homes, vehicles, crops and bridges being washed away and at least 29 people reported to have died and hundreds of families displaced and properties destroyed. It wasn’t just rural areas which were affected, the floods submerged the main roads in/out of Mbale and the petrol station where Tom, UWCM’s driver, normally gets the fuel was completely washed away and one of the pump attendants sadly died whilst trying to rescue others. University buildings and hotels in the centre of Mbale were also flooded and vehicles washed away.

The Uganda government have been setting up temporary camps to re-settle those whose homes were washed away and also distributing food parcels but the process is slow. UWCM have been able to support 22 families by providing them with food, soaps, clothes etc

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Why a 4 wheel drive vehicle is essential for UWCM’s ministry to continue

UWCM’s mandate is: to serve the poorest people in the hard to reach communities and areas or places. We work in the Elgon Zone/region which has seven districts namely; Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bududa, Bulambuli, Namisindwa, and Kapchorwa. Some of these areas are deep in the mountains where most of the other partners cannot go or reach because of the terrain and bad road conditions.

As such, UWCM are dependent upon having a reliable 4-wheel drive vehicle to cope with the terrain, particularly during the rainy seasons.  They are still using the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is 24 years old and donated second hand in November 2012 by Tearfund and Stromme Foundation but it is becoming more and more costly to maintain and repair/replace parts.  The team that went out in June of this year experienced first hand how challenging the roads can be and one trip had to be cancelled as the roads were impassable.  Without a suitable 4-wheel drive vehicle, UWCM will be unable to continue their ministry and so we are trying to secure funding to keep their current vehicle on the road whilst investigating the possibility of providing a replacement vehicle.

Greetings from Uganda!

Two of our Trustees, Bridget and Steve Withell, plus another supporter, Pete O’Keefe, are currently in Uganda meeting with the staff of UWCM and monitoring some of the projects we support. They have been greatly encouraged by the dedication and commitment of the staff and the progress and sustainability of many of the projects. They visited Simu Women’s Group who are still making the reusable sanitary pads and distributing them to school girls.

Pete led training sessions with UWCM and local business leaders to help them raise income locally to increase their self-sustainability. He also encouraged local business owners to work together in trust, honesty and transparency.

More news to follow when they return!

Lwangoli Prayer & Porridge

This project continues to thrive and is making a real difference in the lives of so many vulnerable children in the Lwangoli community. UWCM have held meetings with church leadership to encourage them to contribute towards the development of the project and to secure it’s sustainability and as a result the church has agreed to have monthly collections for the children later in the year when the community members have harvested their crops. The children are also taking an active part in the services and the leaders thanked UWCM for their support and training.

This quarter UWCM were able to distribute 600 exercise books plus pens and pencils and pens for Primary and Secondary children and contribute towards the school fees for 9 primary age children. They also bought 100kg of maize flour and 50kg sugar for the weekly bowl of porridge which is always enjoyed! On club days, UWCM and the centre guides hold class sessions covering different age-related topics plus Bible study, games and sports. During lockdown they held smaller craft sessions and one young man, Brian, was very proud of the fact that he had made a pillow case last year and then recently made it into a bag to carry his books.

Success stories!

UWCM train, support and monitor many different Women’s Groups and ‘Tunyi Glory Women’s Group’ is one of the most active with 53 young, energetic and focused members who are always ready to learn new ideas.  They run a very successful microfinance savings scheme which, apart from saving for individual school fees, medical fees, food etc they also pooled some money together to buy household items such as bedding and utensils and others were able to buy IGA (income generating activity) items like a sewing machine. 

Another very resourceful group is Nakatsi Women’s Group who, acutely aware of the negative impact that the Covid 19 pandemic was having on children, especially teenagers, decided to take advantage of the long lockdown and use this time as an opportunity to train girls in tailoring and dressmaking.  UWCM gave the group 4 x sewing machines and they decided to hire 2 more machines and then charged each girl a small amount to be trained for 10 months thus making the project sustainable.  When UWCM went back to monitor their progress, they found that the group had so far trained 15 girls and 6 of these were busy making clothes to sell during the Christmas season which was a huge achievement.  With our funding, UWCM have been able to provide another 2 x machines which will enable even more girls to be trained.

POSITIVE IMPACT OF GROUP TRAINING:

UWCM are struggling to keep up with the demand for training new and existing groups.  In the last quarter of 2021 they trained 12 groups (360 people) in the following topics: parenting skills, group dynamics, all aspects of hygiene, leadership, IGA management, children’s rights and responsibilities plus couples’ training on marriage issues.  These trainings were greatly appreciated by all who attended and they requested further training especially on how to handle teenagers and young adults. 

These are some of the comments from participants:

James:  I have never attended such a challenging training.

Stephen (local government chairman): This training has helped us government representatives and we are going to train those who did not attend to treat children as children and not like adults as it has been before.  Thank you UWCM – it seems as though your staff move at night and see what happens in our homes because all that you have taught us happens in our families.

UWCM’s work continues despite many challenges

Despite many challenges this year eg changes in weather, vehicle breakdown, rising prices and covid restrictions, the staff at UWCM have continued to work tirelessly supporting, training and encouraging hundreds of individuals, families and groups.

With our funding they have been able to continue to provide sewing machines to groups who are able to make and sell reusable sanitary pads, face masks, clothes etc; support and encourage groups to build new shelters for the most vulnerable within their communities; run training sessions on topics such as women’s rights, leadership skills, group dynamics and how to choose a good income generating activity with the aim of empowering women with knowledge and skills so that they become self-reliant and good leaders within their communities; provide food parcels and pay for medical fees for those in greatest need; offer psycho-social support to people living with AIDS; support groups with the rainwater tank revolving fund; monitor and support Lwangoli Prayer & Porridge project where many young children and teenagers have enjoyed training sessions on various age related topics, learning new craft skills plus receiving a nutritious meal once a week.

These are some of the comments made by beneficiaries after receiving support from UWCM:

I kept asking myself what will happen to me when I die but now I have the answer. You will buy a coffin and bury me in peace. I thank God that I have got a friend who is now my relative. Thank you very much and God bless you”. Oliver after being given a new home for herself, her children and grandchildren.

Who is me that you always think about and meet my needs?” Jackson, who is blind and disabled and who UWCM have supported for many years.

”How can a Christian organization all the way from Mbale come to help one of our own, yet for all these years we have stayed with her and  we could not help her? It is a big shame. May God bless that Organization. Because of this, we are going to build for Sauda a better permanent shelter”. Comment made by the leader of a Muslim community where UWCM had been supporting one of their women, Sauda.

covid update:

We have just received the following update from UWCM:

On Friday 18th June President Museveni revised and updated all the directives he issued on 6th June 2021. This followed the bigger numbers of people dying and more COVID-19 cases registered.

1. All cross-boundary and inter-district movement suspended for 42 days. NO movement of public transport or even private vehicles across districts. Boda Bodas are not allowed to carry passengers but only cargo.

2. Curfew time in the next 42 days will be observed between 7.00 pm to 5.00 am.

He promised that the government will continue to explore all ways of fast tracking the acquisition of enough vaccines to vaccinate a critical mass of our population to ensure the country returns to normal operations.

On 17th June, Uganda received 175,200 doses of AstraZeneca and more were being expected. The President directed that these doses be prioritized to give a second dose to those who already have their first dose.

UGanda in 2nd lockdown: update from UWCM

On 7th June 2021, President Museveni of Uganda announced that the country was to undergo a second, 42-day lockdown.  We would like to share this update, received on 17th June, from Lornah Wamono on behalf of UWCM:

I wish to thank you for the concern, your prayers and encouragement as we face and go through the second wave of COVID-19 in Uganda.  Some staff members have not been well in the past two weeks due to cough and flu, which are some of the symptoms of coronavirus, but it is well and by God’s grace we are all safe and healing steadily.

The second wave has become so infectious and left people in a state of panic. Many are sick and dying in big numbers and it is sad to note.  In these past months, Uganda has lost a number of government officials and church leaders, our relatives, immediate family members and friends who have succumbed to COVID-19! The number of new cases is increasing daily and the Intensive Care Units (ICU) in hospitals are full to capacity. By yesterday, Uganda registered 64,521 new confirmed cases; deaths – 459; yet, some in the communities go unreported and many die in homes! Those vaccinated are about 777,805 (health workers, older persons, soldiers, teachers etc.). This is a small percentage, moreover, not even half way of the population! The demand for oxygen goes up. According to reports, one COVID-19 patient in ICU can consume 20-30 liters of oxygen per minute and this is a challenge. Most hospitals have run out of COVID-19 vaccines, however, the government is making efforts to secure additional doses (vaccines) to cover the targeted groups to have the 2nd dose, and then other groups will follow. However, there are conspiracy theories that the vaccine is toxic and is intended to kill Africans. God forbid.

People are discouraged from moving into and out of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono (Greater Kampala) because this is where most of the cases are concentrated. Other places include districts in Northern Uganda and Eastern region, Mbale and Tororo inclusive. It is the reason the President banned cross-district travels.

UWCM‘s activities during this lockdown period will be carried out only in the district of Mbale until the President lifts the ban to work in all districts. There is generally inadequate or no food in homes because the first harvest has not yielded much food because of unpredictable weather.  Staff will provide families with psychosocial support eg food, medical and basic household items.  They will conduct home visits to check on the progress of children and families with health issues and will deliver sewing machines and tools to groups in that area.  They are also planning to deliver materials for shelter construction in 2 communities and to monitor the progress of these shelters.

Prayer points:

* Healing and deliverance from pain for sick people in our families and communities. All staff have one or more people that are sick in their homes and it impacts on service delivery

* Nations of the world to be delivered from COVID-19.

* Bereaved families because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Staff safety and wisdom to handle things.

We continue to thank you for every help given and God bless.

Lornah

HOME MONITORING VISITS

UWCM regularly visit homes of the most vulnerable and needy within their communities and this has been especially important during the Covid restrictions as many families have been struggling to find enough food and/or pay for medical fees. During these visits they are able to counsel and encourage the families and offer advice and guidance as well as pray with them, and give items such as nutritious porridge flour (instead of the cheaper porridge flour many families use which fills you up but lacks nutrition); sugar and soap. They also monitor progress of those for whom they paid medical fees eg a young girl called Christine who had a bad skin complaint which resulted in her not wanting to go outside of her house, was prescribed cream and was also given food to supplement her diet and UWCM were very pleased to see that this small intervention is already proving a success.

UWCM visited Sylvia, a lady who we met in January 2020, and who sadly had been very poorly with stomach upsets and pain but had not been able to afford to go to the doctors for any medication. UWCM gave her rice, sugar, silver fish, ground nut paste, salt, cooking oil and washing soap plus 5,000 Ugandan shillings (just over £1) and encouraged her to go for a medical check up and treatment. They have since re-visited Sylvia and her health has improved and she is grateful for our support which she said is a blessing to her.

news from LWANGOLI p&p

UWCM staff held a one-day meeting with the Centre Guides and church leaders from Lwangoli to remind them of their roles and responsibilities to the children who attend the Prayer & Porridge Club namely: to love and mentor the children; to get to know their parents/guardians in their homes; to help the children understand why good relationships are very important for them to grow in order to become good stewards of God’s love no matter what their denominations; to check and make sure the children receive their porridge and to remind the children and parents to contribute towards items, eg firewood. Our funding also allowed UWCM to pay school fees and distribute scholastic materials eg books, pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers, sharpeners, sets to a small number of Primary 7 candidates for which they and their parents were so grateful and gave thanks to God.