ACTION FOR INTEGRATED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
P.O Box 57 Lyantonde, Uganda
AICOD ACTIVITY REPORT JUNE/JULY 2016.
The mandate of AICOD is to contribute to the fundamental basic needs of children with disabilities and other vulnerable living under difficult circumstances to minimum standards, for a life of dignity through Home based Care, social rehabilitation and advocacy services that improve on their living conditions.
This report highlights AICOD’s activities in the months of June and July 2016. These include among others: Medical assessment, Make a difference day, Community Mobilisation, formation of mother’s groups and home visits (follow-up).
The organisation together with Uganda Marathon staff identified Bonnie an 8 year old boy who was being tied onto a tree by his family for fear of him getting lost as they were ignorant of what can be done to him. After several visits, it was decided by the Marathon team to have him taken to Masaka referral Hospital for medical Assessment. Bonnie was taken to the hospital mental health department and was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by the Psychiatric doctor. The doctor prescribed medicine for him and home based rehabilitation was recommended in order to have him accepted and integrated with other family and community
Bonnie currently is taken by the AICOD office together with his Grandma to Masaka Hospital every after four weeks for review; “there is a very significant positive change in Bonnie!” the doctor exclaimed when we took Bonnie for the third review. The Marathon has continued to provide transportation and the cost of medication for Bonnie.
Make a deference Day.
AICOD has entered into partnership with Uganda International Marathon and both parties agreed to implement activities aimed at improving the livelihoods of children with disabilities and their households. In this regard, Bennie’s household was selected to benefit from the Make difference day of the Uganda Marathon whereby volunteer runners offer a helping hand to vulnerable persons in communities around Masaka. On 2nd June, a team of 13 volunteers comprising of 12 young men and women from Europe and United Arab Emirates and 1 Ugandan young man braved the whole sunny day from morning till evening working on fence around Bennie’s grandparent’s homestead and installing some locally made play gadgets for Bonnie. The homestead is in Lyabuguma village, Biwolobo parish in Lyantonde sub-county-Lyantonde district.
The whole cost of the fence was financed by the Uganda marathon. The community members around Bonnie’s household also enthusiastically came and participated in the construction work which was also witnessed by the local council chairperson of the village.
Parents of other disabled children were also invited to come and witness the event as to gain some understanding and need to take good care of their children.
Impact of the intervention:
1. Bonnie who was a lonely young boy and regarded a curse in the family, some other people who live nearby had this to say “our children fear to come near him because he is a dangerous animal he might harm them”. This statement has since changed many children now spend most of their time with him in the play gadgets swinging with him while hugging.
2. The family of Bonnie which had been regarded a cursed one is now regarded as a blessed one since the visit of the volunteers. Many neighbours now visit and spend time at the household.
3. Bonnie’s Grandparents are overwhelmed by the support and the sudden changes that have occurred in the young boy. These are the remarks made by the grandparents of Bonnie:
Grandpa:“ I never imagined in my life that this child will ever become so important in this family because we have always counted him a loss and waited for a time when he will die and get relief over him now see what he has brought in my compound; who ever imagined that a Muzungu will ever step in this home but now see how many are these!”.
Grandma: “Children in this village used to refer to him as an animal, and could not come near him but now see they are hugging and seated with him in a swing God is great I don’t know how to thank you people you have removed shame and stigma from us!”
4. Generally, there is great improvement in the general welfare of Bonnie; he no longer chews the clothes, he now sits with the rest of the family on meals previously they used to throw food for him outside at the tree where he was tied; his fellow children now can play with him so he has company and has gained acceptance from all the people at home. He now moves freely around the homestead and takes himself into the play gadgets alone and gets out when he is done.
The Marathon day.
AICOD was on 5th June 2016 effectively represented by 6 people four of whom are staff members and two are members of the organisation at the Marathon day. All the six people fully participated in the running and finished their respective distances. After all the run all the people commented “this is a race like no other”. The race was overwhelmingly exciting and members of the AICOD team vowed to participate in all other future races together with their friends. The race was intended to raise funds to support various projects in Greater Masaka.
The organisation through its local volunteers has launched a mobilisation campaign to identify and register children with disabilities in Lyantonde district. This program will initially cover 3 sub-counties of Lyantonde rural, Lyantonde Town Council and Kaliiro. 5 meetings under this have been conducted and 2 in Lyantonde rural, 2 in Lyantonde Town and 1 in Kaliiro. Out of these, a total of 75 children with varied disabilities have been registered, as follows:
- Lyantonde rural 22 children from 2 parishes.
- Lyantonde town 17 children from selected villages of both parishes
- Kaliiro 36 children from 1 parish
The purpose of this program is to know the number of the children and use the data to plan effective interventions that suites each individual child.
This office has entered negotiations with the education department of Lyantonde district local government to secure way of how best these children can be supported to attain education appropriately. We are still brainstorming and hope a good plan will come out of these talks.
Formation of Mama Groups:
Though out all places where we have gone to register the children, 99.9% of the parents and care givers who turned up are women (Mothers). This together with our personal experiences confirms that its only mothers who bear the burden of care and support of their children and father only care when they understand that there will be some gain financially or materially.
This organisation has come up with an idea to support these mothers with knowledge and other resources to sustainably and effectively provide adequate care and support to their children. 5 Mama Groups have so far been formed as follows:
- 2 groups in Kiyinda – Kaliiro with 32 members all together
- 1 group in Kalagala – Lyantonde rural with 11 members
- 1 group in Lyantonde town with 10 members
- 1 group in Gayaza - Lyantonde rural with 12 members.
All groups are still at their formative stage but with a lot of enthusiasm to make a difference. This calls for a lot capacity building to make their dreams come true.
1. The Organisation has no source of income at all. We only expect to receive the first grant from the Uganda marathon which will be a spring board for future development prospects.
2. Lack of transport. The organisation has been depending on a private borrowed vehicle that has been returned to its owner. This is a great challenge as most of the work needs vehicle transport to transport children for medical assessment and or rehabilitative therapies.
3. The organisation due to lack of funding has no permanent staff. We rely heavily on our volunteer members to do all the activities. Sometimes we are forced to suspend some field activities when they coincide with the volunteers personal programmes.
4. Most of the children identified are not in school and yet they are of school going age. An urgent plan needs to be made to ensure that they go to school.
5. The organisation lacks major office running costs especially with regard to communication i.e. telephone and internet which are very pertinent in the growing organisation like AICOD. All along these costs have been from the founder’s pockets which seem to be drying up.
1. To intensify resource mobilisation for the sustainability of the organisation.
2. Capacity building and support of the Mama groups to make them operational.
3. Conclude discussions with education department to make the children access education.
4. Plan for medical and or professional assessment of the identified children to determine each child’s disabilities and needs.
5. To network with other actors in the provision of services to children with disabilities.
6. To secure appropriate means of transport to ease movement and program activities.
This is a worthwhile undertaking that calls for Multisectoral approach and combined efforts of several stakeholders including welwishers, government institutions, donor agencies, parents and local leaders. Children with disabilities deserve equal treatment like that of able-bodied counterpart. They equally have potentials that once supported, they can become productive and self reliant in future. I call upon all stakeholders to support these children to attain quality livelihoods.