Every morning, Pamela followed the same routine. She would wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her two children. But, like many other women in her community, the Kamwenge refugee settlement in Uganda, she didn’t have the basic skills to prepare healthy meals.
Graduating to Resilience
Twenty-five farmers, including nineteen women, came together to cultivate crops in their “Bitojjo-Tukorenamani” which means “Let’s Work Hard” Farmer Field Business School. Before joining the school, their harvests barely had any financial impact on their livelihood; they were mostly for home consumption. When they began receiving training in modern farming practices, their motivation grew. The USAID Graduating to Resilience Activity offers service bundles that include seeds, training and linkages to markets.
When they were one and a half years old, Moreen and Doreen were so small, frail, sick, and tired that they could barely sit up on their own. The twins’ chance of survival was alarmingly low.
Scovia Arinaitwe, their mother had experienced firsthand how quickly a child’s health can turn, but she did not realize what the cause might be. Florence Kabacwa, USAID Graduating to Resilience Activity nutrition coach took one look at the twins and knew what the problem was: malnutrition. As part of the USAID-funded Activity, thousands of families are visited by AVSI Foundation coaches in South Western Uganda every day.
2020 may not have been the year we dreamed of, nor did we see it coming. But it will most certainly be one we will never forget. Everyone around the world had to re-adjust to a new way of life. Millions lost their livelihoods and shelter, struggling to make ends meet; millions lost their loved ones. We at AVSI have also lost one of our dear colleagues and friends.
AVSI Uganda staff members Arinda John Bosco and Ruth Ninsiima, were selected as SCALE Facilitators of the Year (2020), while Graduating to Resilience Activity received the SCALE’s Creative Adaptation Award for Strongest COVID-19 Innovations.
Charlotte Bahati, 36 years old, is scaling up her business. Thanks to the training received from AVSI Foundation, in a few months, she has gone from selling only silverfish to harvesting a more considerable amount of crops, and a new poultry farm. Charlotte can now raise a healthy family and is letting go of her past marred by huge losses after she fled her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
AVSI Foundation joined the Ugandan Ministry of Health and its partners to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration which is held every year from 1 to 7 August. In various parts of the country and through the different projects and activities that we implement, AVSI Foundation held activities such as mini-community dialogues, radio talk shows, and food and cooking demonstrations. Using social media posts, AVSI Uganda also reminded mothers to breastfeed and prompted communities, employers, leaders, and husbands to support mothers on this noble task of breastfeeding for a healthier nation.
In early February 2020, during our second theory of change workshop, a team member asked if we needed to consider coronavirus in our assumptions. She was quickly dismissed as participants asked, “Is coronavirus in Uganda?” “Is it posing a threat to our communities?” One month later, on 17 March, Activity leadership provided guidance to field staff to be sure accurate and consistent messaging about COVID-19 was reaching all employees and subsequently, all participants.
When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Uganda, forcing the Government to close business and schools, some beneficiaries of AVSI’s Graduating to Resilience Activity thought that the project funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID was going to be canceled. AVSI’s Community Based Trainer Jackson Ninkusima brought them hope.
Haley Adams, Food for Peace Officer at USAID Uganda, visited the Graduating to Resilience Activity in Kamwenge District in December 2019. The Activity aims to graduate 13,200 households (both refugee and host community), from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience. Graduating to Resilience is a seven-year USAID-funded program in Southwestern Uganda, now home to mostly Congolese and Rwandan refugees.