About where we work
Bukedea District is one of the Local Governments, under the Uganda Government decentralization policy, located in the East of Uganda. It is a well-known District for cattle trade and Agro-produce.
People in Bukedea live simple lives with about 95% sleeping in grass-thatched (huts) houses, of those, some share their huts with their animals mostly goats and chickens to avoid losing them to thieves at night. The 5% who live in town centers live in a rented rooms fitting in up to 2 adults and 3 children. In town chances of work are much higher. Women from this setting are employed in salons, local markets which are only there a few days a week, selling vegetables or silverfish, and others attend retail shops. While the men work in butcheries, retail shops, or ride Boda Boda (motorcycles) for a living.
A typical day of an ordinary person in Bukedea is waking up at around 6:30 am to attend to their gardens of maize, beans, cassava, millet, sorghum, cowpeas, or vegetables up to around 12noon. Harvest some food for lunch and dinner most likely beans or some vegetables to be eaten with the remaining cassava flour from last night. The women and girls fetch water from a spring which is mostly shared with animals as well as used when cleaning their dirty laundry; they also have to collect firewood from the bushes for their daily cooking. After the gardens, men mostly likely bathe and sit to drink local brew (ajono) as they wait for the food to get ready and then after, wander off to local bars to drink with fellow men. Women and girls on the other hand have to stay home to prepare the food, clean the compound, take care of children, wash the laundry, fetch water, collect firewood and ferment the local brew (ajono).
Children are not excused from the daily work such as gardening, taking care of the animals for the boys, and collecting firewood for the girls; even on school days, they go to the garden with their parents at the same time in the morning and at 8 am wash their faces, feet, and hands at the spring, take the animals to the fields to graze and then that is when they run off to nearest school (government-funded) barefooted, wearing worn-out uniform or non at all with just an exercise book where they write all their subjects notes and a pen or pencil. Sometimes carrying school requirements such as local brooms for sweeping school compounds, a hip of mud or cow dung to repair a wall of a classroom or teacher’s house or brick to be used as a seat during classes for those that are taught under a mango tree.
Education is seen as a priority only to boys, girls are looked at as a source of income since when they are of age (18 years) are married off to start their own families. Even though others are married at younger ages as old as 15 years in exchange for a dowry of cows/goats or both from the boy’s family. The other reason why girls’ education is not taken seriously is that it is thought that when married off she will be beneficial to the future husband’s family more. So the highest number of school dropouts is girls. Apart from bias from parents, there is also poor menstrual hygiene that is brought about by lack of resources like menstrual pads. And others engage in early sexual activities because they lack enough knowledge on how to use protections like condoms or avoid sexual activities at an early age to avoid early pregnancy and HIV. School going children also lose morale since they do not perform well in class due to a lack of educational resources like textbooks, pens, pencils, exercise books, uniforms or shoes, or even classrooms to sit in when it is raining for those who are used to sit under a mango tree as their classrooms.
When a child or an adult is sick, the first aid is to buy Panador pain killers from the nearest retail shop and if the pain persists, they have to either use a bicycle if they have it, borrow from a neighbor, or if they can afford a fee for a Boda Boda (motorcycle) to the nearest clinic or hospital which for some can be up to 20kms. Most of these government clinics have free services but to be prioritized for treatment they need to know someone there or have to pay a bribe. Some resort to using self-proclaimed healing doctors in their communities.
About Amuno Rural Hub
Amuno Rural Hub is an indigenous NGO formerly Amuno Foundation a Community-Based Organization found in Kachumbala, Bukedea district about 300kms away from Kampala City on the eastern side of Uganda. It is about a 20-minute drive from Mbale Town which is about 20kms and about 90kms to Soroti Town.
We’re a young organization with big intentions, so far with the little resources we’ve been able to get, we have a small youth center that has one Table Tennis (will be increasing this number soon, since we are waiting to receive a donation of Table Tennis equipment worth €1,660 and cash of €840 towards table tennis support from International Table Tennis Foundation).
We have been able to distribute COVID-19 Relief in form of food and cash hand-outs to about 120 households with an average of 5 people per household in April and May of 2020 of up to $2,544, donations received from friends and well-wishers. Amuno Foundation was also able to distribute scholastic materials, clothes, and shoes in our different community outreaches. Our recent being 2021 February Community Outreach which took place on 27th and 28th of February 2021 with the help of Maren from Villa Mamu where we distributed clothes to about 250 people: children, women, and men benefited from this.
Our future goals are: sponsoring children, mostly girls education in better schools. One day we would love to build our own Kindergarten, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary School on the education side, train youth and women self-employable skills such as tailoring, computer skills, brickmaking, beading, carpentry, welding, etc. To support them with equipment and startup capital to start their own business. We want to support farmers with new knowledge, skills, technologies, and ways to help them profit more from their farming activities.
The Community Library
Our current project is starting up a Community Library, an initiative to give children in Kachumbala and the surrounding areas in Bukedea district a center to access educational materials. Offering a space where children can come to learn, using the books and material we provide. We want to make reading itself more attractive, with also providing storybooks like fairy tales and books in their local language. Organizing reading afternoons, quizzes, and much more. Since the lockdown due to Corona, where schools were closed for almost one year, we realized how important the access and the use of the internet even for the children in the village is. That’s why we would love to give training in how to use computers and tablets and provide internet for their self-learning. From this section, not only the children and youth would benefit, but training and workshops for computer skills and how to use the internet can also be done for adults as well.
We also believe this community library project will give the children a fair chance and competitive advantage during the end of the year promotional exams with children in urban areas who have access to these resources in their homes and schools.
How to help?
At Amuno Foundation we are dedicated to creating solutions, however small. Given the experience of our founders Betty, a social worker by profession, and Tony, who was born and raised in one of these communities, and a friend Maren of Villa Mamu, an occupational therapist and experience of 2+ years in volunteering in Ugandan NGOs. They’ve come together to open a Community Library with the goal to have it self-sustainable after 1 year. So far, through their local and international network, they’ve managed to receive a donation of €100 towards the cause as well as a promise of a donation of 1,000 books from Books2Africa UK which requires £700 for processing, shipping, and clearing. A few used second-hand books have also been donated already by Ugandan friends and well-wishers.
This fundraiser is targeting to collect money to facilitate the purchase of books, rent for one year of library space, renovations, furnishing (bookshelves, desks, whiteboard, chairs…), purchase of computers, laptops, tablets, installation of the internet for one year, allowances for 4 volunteers for one year, and a small business of stationery supplies, printing and photocopying services, sale of soft drinks, water, and mobile money services for the sustainability program for the next years to come to keep the library operating on its own even without more donations.