The Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project
The Nyaka Aids Orphans Project educates, empowers, and transforms vulnerable and impoverished communities in Uganda, ensuring that everyone has the chance to learn, grow, and thrive. We envision a world where all vulnerable and underserved communities have the knowledge, resources, and opportunities they need to grow and prosper. At the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, we believe we are all one family created by God, born equally, with the duty to help one another. We believe all human beings have the right to education, food, shelter, basic health care, respect, and love.
In 1996, Twesigye "Jackson" Kaguri's life took an unexpected turn. He was living the American dream. He had an excellent education and was ready to explore opportunities, travel, and have fun. Then Jackson came face-to-face with Uganda's HIV/AIDS pandemic. His brother died of HIV/AIDS, leaving him to care for his three children. One year later, his sister died of HIV/AIDS, also leaving behind a son. It was through his own personal experience this native Ugandan saw the plight of orphans in his village of Nyakagyezi. He knew he had to act. He took the $5,000 he had saved for a down payment on his own home and built the first Nyaka School. You can read more about Jackson's journey in his book, "A School for My Village".
The HIV/AIDS Pandemic In Uganda
Over 1.1 million children in Uganda have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Both extended family members and orphanages face enormous obstacles in attempting to care for these children. These orphans and other vulnerable children go without basic human needs that many of us take for granted, including: food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education.
Orphans in Uganda are often forced to fend for themselves, making them responsible for income generation, food production, and care for sick parents and siblings. These orphans may also be the first to be denied education when their families cannot afford to educate all of the children in their household
Providing Clean Water
In recent years, the Ugandan government has spent millions of dollars carrying out campaigns geared toward the provision of clean water as a way of preventing cholera, bilharzia, and other water-borne diseases. However, 40%-60% of Ugandans still lack access to safe drinking water.
Thanks to the Clean Gravity-Fed Water System, which was constructed in 2005 at Nyaka Primary School, students have access to fresh drinking water. In addition to providing clean water to Nyaka, it serves 17,500 people at three public schools, two private schools, three churches, and more than 120 households in the community. In 2012, your donations built a second Clean Gravity-Fed Water System at Kutamba Primary School, which benefits over 5,000 community members.
The clean water systems are invaluable to this rural area. They supply clean water through tap systems placed throughout the community. Women and girls no longer have to walk for miles to gather water, missing school and risking assault, a previously common occurrence.
Nutrition For growing Bodies
When Nyaka Primary School was still a small, two-classroom school, our teachers noticed that their students were unable to stay awake during class. They saw that many children suffered from stunted growth and had bloated bellies from malnutrition. When Nyaka staff visited their students’ homes, they realized that their grandmothers could not afford enough good food to keep them fed. We realized that, if we were going to see our students succeed tomorrow, we had to make sure they were fed today.
Nyaka provides a school meal program that has enabled the students to enjoy school and perform well. Free meals encourage guardians to send their children to school. For some of the students who live in extreme poverty, these are the only meals they get in a day. Many students suffered from chronic malnourishment prior to receiving meals at Nyaka and Kutamba. The students’ weight and height is regularly monitored to ensure they are receiving the appropriate number of calories to fuel their growing bodies.
The children get breakfast every morning and they love their food. Breakfast usually consists of mil or porridge and a roll. Thanks to a generous gift of 200 chickens, we now have eggs to feed the children once a week. At lunch, the students are given another healthy meal that usually consists of beans, meat or another type of protein, posho (finely ground white corn flour mixed with boiling water until it becomes solid), or corn mash, rice, Matooke (a banana paste), and sweet potatoes or Irish potatoes. Nyaka students have meat once a week, typically a treat that is eaten only once a year at home.
Students work with their guardians at Desire Farm and are able to take produce home. This program also includes free distribution of vegetable seeds provided by Seed and Light Inc.
The HIV/AIDS crisis claimed millions of lives and left 1.1 million HIV/AIDS Orphans in its wake. There are few services available in the country of Uganda but what little there are can only be found in the major cities like Kampala, the capital. The small villages in southwest Uganda were devastated by HIV/AIDS but there was no one to help. Normally in Uganda an orphaned child would be able to go to an uncle or aunt to take care of them but the crisis hit so hard that many children had no one to turn to. Many went to live with their aging grandmothers, some to caring women in their village, and many others were left vulnerable and alone. Nyaka currently provides services to 43,000 HIV/AIDS orphans living in southwest Uganda but we estimate that true number of children who have been orphaned is much higher.
In Uganda, many parents count on their children to care for them in old age. Many parents are subsistence farmers and have no way to save for retirement. They rely on their children to build them a new home when their current home becomes unlivable. In the devastation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, an estimated 63,000 people have died from the deadly epidemic leaving behind 1.1 million children. Normally in Uganda, these children would be taken care of by their aunts and uncles. However, HIV/AIDS took so many lives that entire generations of families were lost, which meant that grandmothers were the only family left to care for these orphans. Now, instead of being cared for as they age, the grandmothers we work with are raising their grandchildren. Many are too poor to feed their grandchildren or to send them to school. Nyaka’s Grandmother Program was designed to empower these grandmothers to provide safe, stable homes for their grandchildren. The program is made up of 98 self-formed Granny Groups serving a combined 7,301 grandmothers in the rural southwest districts of Kanungu and Rukungiri. Any grandmother raising an HIV/AIDS orphan is welcome to join a group. The groups have elected leadership, which is chosen from within their individual Granny Group. There are also elected regional leaders who give support and training to several Granny Groups. The groups are given additional support and guidance by Nyaka staff, but with an emphasis on the grandmothers as decision makers. They determine who among them receives donated items, attends training, microfinance funds, homes, pit latrines, and smokeless kitchens. This unique model is devised to empower the grandmothers to share their skills, give emotional support, and escape poverty.
EDJA Foundation was founded in 2015 by Tabitha Mpamira-Kaguri to combat child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence in rural Uganda. EJDA began after a nine-year-old primary student was raped by a 35-year-old man. Although the adults around her knew about the rape, they did not know how to help her.
Since then, EDJA has grown to support 50 girls and women from ages 4 to 38 who have been sexually assaulted. The program provides counseling, legal advocacy, and medical services in two districts of Southwest Uganda, Rukungiri and Kanungu. EDJA is combining efforts with Nyaka, which has used a human rights-based holistic approach for 16 years to serve the same communities. Nyaka’s mission is to end the cycle of poverty for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and their grandmothers in rural Uganda. The two organizations have been sharing resources and serving many of the same children. In 2018, EDJA Foundation and Nyaka determined that the best way to address sexual assault in Uganda was to merge the two organizations. This will allow them to fully combine their resources and expand the program to support more communities.
EDJA operates a Crisis Center in the local hospital located in Kambuga. This center provides crisis intervention, including access to a rape exam to collect evidence and medical treatments such as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which helps prevent the contraction of HIV/AIDS (Costs approximately $5.00 USD). These services, which are provided free by EDJA, are typically too expensive for most families. After the initial exam, survivors are given follow up medical treatment and counseling to help them move toward healing
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