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Uganda Red Cross launches campaign to support a girl child stay in school

Tuesday, 09 April 2019 08:13 Written by
Students of Mackay Memorial during a presentation at the launch

Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports on the 28th March launched a Country wide initiative dubbed“Keep A Girl in School”  aimed at improving  Menstrual Health Management among primary and secondary school going adolescent girls and young women. 

The event was hosted by Mackay Memorial College – Nateete, one of the model schools in Rubaga division, Kampala.

The initiative under the theme; Empowered Girls, Empowered Mothers, Empowered Communities,is championed by the Uganda Red Cross goodwill ambassadors, who are Volunteers and friends of the Uganda Red Cross. They are passionate about the plight of the girlchild and societal well-being. The team is comprised of role models and dignified mothers in the country with a track record of spearheading impactful community health interventions like the “Mama bag/kits” distribution that contributed to the improvement of birth preparedness, hence arresting maternal mortality in Northern Uganda during the post LRA insurgency.

While officiating at the campaign launch, the Minister of Education and Sports- Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni said the Ministry has implemented a number of interventions aimed at improving Menstrual Health Management among adolescent girls especially those in primary and secondary schools. Key among these being;

A team of the URCS goodwill ambasadors ready to push the campaign
  • Construction of latrines/toilets and washrooms, provision of water harvesting facilities (water tanks), hand washing facilities and provision of sanitary towels (still in few schools on a pilot basis) to support girls manage their menstrual periods with dignity. 
  • Production and dissemination of information, education and communication (IEC) materials in form of a Reader, video and a circular on Menstrual Health Management,
  • Training learners and teachers on Menstrual Health Management and on making re-usable sanitary towels from available local materials.
  • Partnership building and sensitisation of the public, parents, teachers and learners and among policy makers on MHM. 

“All the above are initiatives of the Ministry and we are happy to contribute to the wellbeing of children especially the girls to ensure that they remain in school and complete to achieve their dreams.” She added.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr. Alex Kakooza in his remarks emphasized the challenges that girls go through while in school.

The Guest of honour, Hon. Rosemary Sseninde Speaking at the launch

“Menstruation affects girls in their engagement in a number of activities and may significantly impact on their education if not well managed. A study by International Water and Sanitation Council (2012) estimates that one in ten of girls who experience menstruation in Uganda skips school four to five days a month or completely drops out of school. This is why we need to support partners like Uganda Red Cross as they address this cause through provision of sanitary pads to girls.”

Speaking at the launch, Robert Kwesiga, the Secretary General- Uganda Red Cross Society, said the initiative is part of the Uganda Red Cross Society Health and Social Service Agenda under the WASH interventions. 

“As we strive to promote the dignity of the people we serve, menstrual health management lies at the centre of the WASH interventions we undertake. It plays a crucial role around important issues such as health, education, protection and security of women and adolescent girls both in emergency and in the development context. We are here to mobilise communities to join hands with us so that critical issues affecting the vulnerable populace are addressed. Menstrual Health Management is a fundamental strategy to improving school attendance and retention for the girl child. It is a big agenda of the Red Cross global movement and therefore, I want to thank the Ministry for opening the schools for us to access the vulnerable girls and support them as we continue delivering on our mandate of saving lives and promoting human dignity.” Kwesiga added.

The Secretary General, Mr. Robert Kwesiga and the guest of honour Hon. Rosemary Sseninde,
state minister for primary education visiting the Secrets stall at the exhbition

Uganda Red Cross, Everton FC use sports therapy to support the psychosocial wellbeing

Saturday, 23 March 2019 07:55 Written by
Coach trainees being supervised by Tackle Africa's Coach Catherine.

Uganda Red Cross, Everton FC use sports therapy to support the psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable communities in West Nile, Northern Uganda. 

Through their CSR arm (Everton in the Community), Everton FC in March 2018 signed a memorandum of understanding with partners in the West Nile Consortium that included Uganda Red Cross Society and Onduparaka FC to use Sports to support the refugees and hosting communities in West Nile, Northern Uganda.

The Uganda Red Cross supports refugees by providing humanitarian assistance, protection and psychosocial wellbeing. Working with Onduparaka FC, a West Nile prominent local football team, popular and supported by many local people has helped to mobilize for the involvement and participation of the hosting community to be part of the football clinic.

This week, Everton in the Community mobilized resources to start a well packaged week long coaching Clinic for 40 trainees who are being trained as Coaches. These coaches will in turn become community coaches and will bring together the different communities they represent to play football. 

Everton FC's Johnnie Garside giving instructions to players during a session.

Among these trainees are refugees who will bring the refugee communities from different West Nile refugee settlements to play football as part of psychosocial therapy for those affected by effects of war and trauma.

“We thank Everton for the support that has enabled us to bring together all these people. In refugee community spaces, we notice that people who were once busy in their daily routines in their home countries become redundant which in the end capitalizes on their mental wellbeing.. For many, these empty hours make an already difficult situation much harder to thrive. Football is a great game to bring them together and bring keep them active.” Says Isaac Etoku, Uganda Red Cross Psychosocial Support Officer – based in West Nile.

“The trained coaches will form teams in their communities which we will coordinate locally to play football and use it as a therapy for their physical, psychosocial and mental wellbeing. Football brings many people together especially the youth who would have rather been involved in many dubious activities due to being idle. When we engage them in football, we will occupy them for constructive survival.”  Etoku adds.

Premier Skills Coach trainers facilitating a passing session at the Green Light
Stadium, Onduparaka.

Through the Premier Skills coaches, Everton mobilized coaches from British Council Uganda to support the coaching Clinic and these technical people have dedicated time to be in West Nile for the whole week to ensure that the package is delivered to the trainee Coaches. 

“It’ has been an honor for me to see the enthusiasm and passion for learning from the trainee coaches this week. It is our hope that this passion will translate into meaningful action being implemented after the course, working in partnership with the West Nile Consortium Partners. I look forward to the next phase of the project to observe the progress made to help transform refugees and host communities using the power of football.” Said Jonathan Garside, Manager - Everton in the Community.

The training also focuses on using football to tackle community challenges like HIV AIDS, improve child rights and protection and mental health awareness in sports. 

 

This will help refugees by providing an outlet for people to come together, get active, learn new skills and become part of a team. The benefits of connecting people through sport are various: it promotes bonding, social inclusion, teamwork and discipline; relieves stress and trauma; and builds trust.

Sport is a great theraphy for mental health and general wellbeing

 

Using Community Based Surveillance to improve early detection of Ebola

Friday, 18 January 2019 10:40 Written by

Using Community Based Surveillance to improve early detection of Ebola outbreak in western Uganda

There is no one who understands a community better than its own members. Community challenges are best known to its people and solutions are always with the same people. Uganda Red Cross employs the ‘community based volunteer approach’ which allows volunteers picked and trained from the communities to deal with their own people and present their community’s needs. With support from USAID Uganda through the International Federation of the Red Cross, Uganda Red Cross is implementing a community based preparedness program that focuses on epidemics and pandemics dubbed #CP3 Project The introduce Community is trained to be able to detect potential disease outbreaks and also respond through reporting the signs and eventually participate in the response to save lives.

Today, Uganda is one of the countries at risk for Ebola following the confirmed outbreak in neighboring DR-Congo.As the Ebola threat continues to loom around the Uganda-Congoboarder, Uganda Red Cross has trained over 300 Volunteers in communities closes to DR-Congo in districts like Bundibugyo, Kasese, Ntoroko, Bunyangabu, Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu among others to carry out surveillance and risk communication activities, including screening for all people entering the country. In some busy communities, a special data collection App called “Kobo-Collect” was introduced and about 50 Volunteers have been trained to use it.

This is to enable the reporting of any epidemic alerts in real time at low costs and resources for early response. “We trained our volunteers to use this real time mobile system to help us detect any epidemic alerts in the community. These communities are near the border and are at high risk. We have a lot of movement across the border,especially on market days and the risk of an Ebola outbreak is imminent. This is why we have relied on our community based volunteers to use this technology as a surveillance tool to further keep Ebola out of Uganda but also sensitize the people about Ebola .” Said Dr.Joseph Kasumba, the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program officer in Bundibugyo district.

Majority of the trained volunteers have already started working in communities where they hold sessions with community members and sensitize them about Ebola. Others like Adam Mugenyi have already sent out alerts to their supervisor and highly commend the system. “I have so far sent two alerts to my supervisor. I am proud that the community trusts me and in case of any suspicions, I am the first one they call. After my door to door movements, a lady called and told me her grand-daughter was sick with what she described as Ebola symptoms. I checked on the child ,indeed she was bleeding and had bloody diarrhea. She also had blood in her urine. I then called my supervisor and informed him about it.

I was amazed to see a response in just 25 minutes. They checked on the girl, took her to hospital and fortunately she tested negative for Ebola. I kept checking on the family to ensure that they were doing the right hygiene practices. I am so proud of my work. , I believe I saved her life” Adam said In Bundibugyo district which is in South Western Uganda, community based surveillance system is at preparedness phase where surveillance, monitoring and reporting is a great effort in partnership with stakeholders like WHO, UNICEF Uganda, Ministry of Health, World Food Programme. Volunteers submit reports by short message service (SMS) or forms which upload to a computer system for automated data processing. Reports can be designed for very basic analogue phones or modern touch phones and used by people with no experience, and minimal literacy with a well-designed training approach.

This is done through the Red Cross Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program (CP3) which collaborates closely with Ministry of Health, health care workers, sectors for animal health, agriculture and environment, development partners, civil society, and the communities themselves.“We have been trained in this approach by the RedCross and we have worked closely with them to tackle community epidemics in this region. Given that Ebola is the major threat at the moment, all efforts have been focused on prevention and preparedness because of our proximity to neighboring Congo where Ebola has already killed many people.

The future of this project is very bright and the government always welcomes such support and collaborations.” Said Dr.Samson Ndyanabaisi, the District Veterinary Officer, Bundibugyo district. In August 2018 World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak in Congo where over 250 people have died from the epidemic. Uganda has been on high alert and Uganda Red Cross with support in partnership with other partners and government structures that include the Ministry of Health, Unicef Uganda, W.H.O, USAID and IFRC, has been at the center of Ebola prevention and preparedness especially around the Uganda-Congo border.

URCS has trained and deployed over 360 volunteers who are doing risk communication, social mobilization and Ebola screening at the border. Other interventions like edutainment through use of music and drama, community engagement through mobile cinema have also been employed to ensure that people access messages on Ebola and communities are prepared to cope despite the high risk.

Road users sensitized about road safety

Friday, 18 January 2019 09:51 Written by
Road users sensitized about road safety ahead of the festive season.

Road users sensitized about road safety ahead of the festive season.

This is a very dangerous season on the road and the perfect time for this road safety campaign. This is the 3rd year we are doing this and the second edition of the caravan.  This year’s caravan has been brought along this Jinja-Kampala road highway. Last year we year we took it to Kampala – Masaka highway. We focus on educating and engaging road users along the busy highways on road safety.” said Gilbert Assi, the Managing Director Vivo Energy Uganda.

Every December, as we approach the festive season, a number of fatal accidents claim lives pf people.This is because of over speeding, among other factors since motorists usually drive upcountry to enjoy festive seasons with their extended families and friends. Away from Kampala,  some drivers want to make more trips and maximize profits, while others want to come to town to sell  merchandise. The heavy traffic makes the roads busier than usual.

According to the Annual Traffic and Road safety report for Uganda, there were 13,244 road accidents in 2017 and most of these happened towards the end of the year. The same report reveals that 3,000 people died during these accidents while 10,000 were injured. 

Vivo energy in partnership with Uganda Red Cross society, Ministry Of Works And Transport, NTV Uganda Television in 2016came up with a road safety campaign to sensitize road users on major highways about road usage and safety. This was dubbed “Tweddeko” meaning “let’s re-think our ways”.  Most of these accidents can be avoided if road users became a little more careful.

“The campaign started in February in 2016 with an initial focus on television messages on road safety until  last year when the caravan edition was introduced. This includes a mobile cinema with testimonials and other road safety messages. This is accompanied by a fleet of vehicles and patrol that make stop overs at major towns along the highway. The caravan made its maiden convoy on Masaka road last year and thousands of road users were engaged.  This year’s caravan  has been broughton Jinja road which has the biggest traffic flow in Uganda, given its  connection to Kenya border and beyond. 

The road is also considered one of the deadliest in Africa. Let us not forget that road safety is shared responsibility. Jinja road is our gateway to the sea and is the route that carries 90% of the goods that are imported to Uganda. It has more traffic than any other road in Uganda and this increases the risk of road accidents” said Mr. BenonKajuna, the Director  Transport, Ministry Of Works And Transport. The road crosses to Kenya through Malaba, then to Nairobi and up to Mombasa. He added.

There were tworoad safety caravans, one started off at Namanve towards Jinja and the other one moved  from Jinja town towardsKampala. The two teams then met at Mabira forest for the closing ceremony. The convoy was joined by the minister for works and transport Eng. Monica AzubaNtege who applauded  the initiative and pledged the ministry’s continued support.“The ministry would like to pledge continued collaboration with all likeminded partners in the fight against road carnage. We have set up a multisectoral team to prepare a paper detailing measures for reducing road carnage and this work is about to be completed and the paper will be presented to cabinet in January 2019.” said  the Hon. Minister before flagging off the caravan.

During this exercise, Uganda Red Cross equipped the different road users with knowledge and tips on how to respond or handle someone who has been involved in an accident. They also learnt the basics of first aid. This was done through demonstration of live simulations and accident skits. Road safety messages and testimonies were also played for the participants on the mobile cinema. They also received the Highway Code manual book, road signs posters and stickers. A few participants walked away with reflector jackets as well. At the major towns, the caravan targeted taxi drivers, boda-boda cyclists, pedestrians and their leaders in those areas.

Road safety is a collective responsibility. We can avoid most of the accidents.

“Every year in the world, 17th November is marked as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to remember those who died or were injured from road crashes and the plight of their loved ones who must cope with the consequences of their deaths or injuries.As such, we encourage the people of Uganda to keep safe, observe traffic rules and do everything possible within their means to avoid road accidents. Tweddeko, every life matters!” Said Mr. Miti Lwanga, lead first aid instructoron the caravan.

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URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org

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