The combination of poverty and disability is toxic. Add stigma and discrimination, and the mix is even more destructive.
There are an estimated 2.5 million children with disabilities in Uganda. According to a UNICEF-backed 2014 research study*, over 90% may not be in school.
Of the children with disabilities who do attend primary school, a staggering 94% will fail to complete primary education. Only a tiny 6% – around 15,000 children across the whole country – make it to secondary education. Factor in the reality that the most of these are children with hearing or visual impairments, and for children with mobility difficulties, the picture is even worse.
We want Global Care’s 35th year, and the years ahead, to be a time of transformation for more children made more vulnerable because of the toxic combination of poverty, disability and cultural stigma.
Our pioneering work with children with disabilities in Soroti, in northern Uganda, over the last five years, has seen transformation in the lives of some extremely vulnerable children. Thanks to the work of The Ark, children who were once isolated and shunned, sometimes locked away at home for hours, are now in school. Others have learned to walk with aids, to speak, to recognise letters. To laugh and have fun in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, instead of stigma and fear.
The Atira Disability Action group is mobilising a whole community to challenge stigma and develop sustainable mutual support. A new Disability Action Group is now in the early stages of development in Abeko, also in the north.
We want to build on this experience, but turn our focus to a different part of Uganda – to Rukungiri, in the hilly south-west. South-western Uganda has the worst rates of school participation for children with disabilities in all of Uganda, apart from the war-ravaged north-east.
We want to raise as much money as possible to develop new initiatives targeting children with mobility difficulties in rural Rukungiri. We are well on the way to raising our initial minimum target of £35,000, with almost £27,000 already donated and several major fundraising events still planned.
Initially, we plan to run a 12-,month pilot project exploring different approaches to helping children access education, in partnership with parents and local schools. After 12 months, we expect to have clear evidence on the most effective ways forward, in order to develop an ongoing initiative supporting children with disabilities in sustainable ways. All the fundraising for the Anniversary Appeal will help get this initiative going, on a secure financial footing – what a fitting celebration this will be for Global Care’s 35th year in the country where it all began.
The pilot project will begin in January 2019. Our staff in Rukungiri have already identified around 20 children with mobility difficulties who will benefit from the first tranche of support.
Thank you to everyone who has given so far – please continue to support this initiative. .
*Situational Analysis of the Rights of Children with Disabilities in Uganda. Unicef May 2014