Ugandan Grandmothers Programme - Child and Family Health through Grandmothers
The programme aims to develop integrated supports to grandmothers in Uganda who are caring for children and grandchildren affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. It includes health promotion, livelihood support, educational supports, life skills and nutrition.
Grandmothers are indispensable to the survival of children and families in Uganda due to high rates of deaths from HIV/AIDS, maternal deaths and the abandonment of children by young, teenage mothers. Yet, they remain largely invisible to government and NGOs and are not direct beneficiaries of any funding programme. They face constant struggle to feed grandchildren, pay school fees and maintain their own health.
Carmel Gallagher, Senior Lecturer in the Dublin Institute of Technology, spent 5 weeks during Summer 2018 in Uganda working with Rwenzori Centre for Research and Advocacy (RCRA) in a personal capacity. She worked with the staff of RCRA to research the needs and concerns of older people and helped to develop this Grandmothers Programme to bring immediate and longer-term benefits to grandmothers and their families.
Carmel stated: ‘In meeting with the grandmothers and hearing directly the kinds of problems they face, I was struck by how dispirited they feel about their poverty which oppresses them from all sides. One woman spoke about being left to mind a 3- week old baby, another spoke about not having a bed for her grandchild to sleep in, while a third spoke about her grandchildren being sent home from school because she could not afford to pay their school fees.’
The Grandmothers Programme will be delivered by RCRA, an indigenous NGO in the Kasese area of Uganda (http://rcra-uganda.org/
). The programme will last for one year and will be evaluated with a view to scaling it up. The kernel of the programme is the formation of groups of grandmothers in rural villages in the greater Kasese area and the delivery of an integrated programme of health, education support and livelihood support. The programme is innovative in targeting grandmothers, having a strong self-help ethos, and an intergenerational element whereby older people and school children will learn from each other. The programme will be delivered by a team of para-social workers (who live in the villages and get paid a small allowance) and will be trained by the Programme Manager, Ms Sarah Nabuuma, Social Worker attached to RCRA who has previously worked on HIV support programmes. Examples of supports are: school fees and educational supports for children; transport in remote inaccessible areas, home visits; delivery of training programmes, developing kitchen gardens; and the provision of re-usable sanitary pads for girls as menstruation often prevents girls from attending school. The programme will cost approximately €20,000 for one year. A detailed budget or further details are available on request.
Following her work with RCRA in the Kasese area of Uganda, Carmel believes that this is a well-developed and deliverable programme that will make a substantial difference to the lives of these older women and the grandchildren in their care. It recognises their invaluable contribution to their families and community and gives them resources and access to knowledge not available to them at present. She is confident of the capacity of RCRA to deliver, evaluate and possibly scale up the programme in the future. Carmel has undertaken to provide continuing mentorship and support as required by the staff in the coming year.
Please give as generously as you can – by helping a grandmother to raise the children in her care and sick family members, you are helping a whole family and supporting the next generation in a deprived area of Uganda.