Girl Child Network Uganda impressive start with Memory Bandera

Happy New Year from the Girl Child Network Uganda!

It is incredible how rapidly time passes. Although we’ve been working in Uganda for about a year, it seems like only yesterday when we started. As a new organization starting operations in Uganda, we had a lot of limitations as to what we can do because we needed to register with the NGO board. Although this is a cumbersome process, I am glad to report that we have started the process with financial support from GCN Worldwide.

Too often young people are seen as the recipients of service; they should see themselves and be seen as leaders and assets who can make powerful contributions to their communities and country. GCN Uganda is creating opportunities for girls and young women to become active participants in their communities through the vocational training programme. In 2010, our vocational programme trained 10 girls in paper beads making and handcrafted bags. This gives girls a platform to use creative ways of helping themselves and their families without resolving to risky behaviors like prostitution.

I would like to bring to your attention a unique thing that we were able to do last year; take time to interact with our beneficiaries and visit some of them. The home visits that GCN Uganda carried out in the slum areas of Kampala were eye-opening experiences and a great way to connect with the people we work with. We now have a deeper understanding of their lifestyles, problems and expectations. We also interviewed and documented the experiences of young people including child mothers in northern Uganda. As a result of these interviews and consultations with various groups of people, a strategy on more effective programmes was developed.

During this past year, we had an opportunity for us to develop our capacity in Uganda.  While we managed to start the vocational training programme and some GCN Empowerment Clubs, a bulk of our efforts have been dedicated to putting in place a solid structure. Here are the highlights of what GCN Uganda accomplished in 2010:

1)      Participated in various activities including workshops and conferences on issues affecting the welfare of girls in Uganda

2)      Established 5 Girls Empowerment Clubs in the slum areas in Kampala

3)      Started the vocational training programme were we trained 10 girls in paper beads makings and handcrafted bags

4)      Conducted home visits in different parts of Kampala to help us have a deeper understanding of the communities we work in

5)      Started the registration process with the Uganda NGO Board

Many organizations that work with women and children develop programs with little or no community participation. The Girl Child Network Uganda’s programs are unique because they are shaped by the recommendations of the community and the young women we are working with. We ask: what are the greatest needs of girls in their community, and how can we support community efforts to solve these problems? We still believe that the success of our programs depends on the participation of those who benefit from them.

As we start the New Year, we are committed to increasing our program efforts in Uganda. In 2011, GCN Uganda will launch a series of new programs aimed at supporting girls and young women’s development with financial support from GCN Worldwide and the Global Fund for Women. The goal of GCN Uganda is to continue to make a difference in the plight of girls in Uganda. Below are the activities outlined for GCN Uganda for 2011:

1)      Having GCN Uganda registered as a non-governmental organization before the end of the year

2)      Establishing more Girls Empowerment Clubs in schools and communities

3)      Enrolling more participants in the Vocational Training Programme for girls and re-designing the training programme based on lessons learned from 2010

4)      Marketing strategies for items made from the vocational training programme

5)      Networking with other organizations and relevant stakeholders

As I look back over the past year, I am moved by the sacrifices of our volunteers in Uganda, as well as the efforts of the communities where we work, and the progress GCN is making in changing the lives of girls and young women in Uganda. On behalf of GCN Uganda, I would like to thank all those who work with and support us in our endeavor to create a better world for girls.

I have attached some photos with some of the products the girls are producing.

We look forward to a more fruitful year.

With kind regards,

Memory Bandera

On behalf of GCN Uganda