NGO Spotlight: Empower and Care Organization

Empower and Care Organization (EACO) is a Community Based Organization run by Ugandans to address the limited educational and economic opportunities that exist for vulnerable groups of women and children in Mukono County, Uganda.  EACO’s vision to implement activities that provide opportunities to the reduce poverty and HIV/AIDS in the Mukono community.

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EACO interventions focus on poverty reduction and address the effects of HIV/AIDS for a majority of vulnerable women, particularly widows and those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as vulnerable children, youth, and the elderly.

The Need: EACO seeks to help children attend school in Uganda. Education and poverty go hand in hand, and many of young people don’t have the opportunity or fees to go to school, let alone afford other basic necessities of life. Under this project, ACO provides school fees and materials, medication, and food for needy families.

EACO also leads WASH Projects to deliver trainings on hygiene promotion, construction of latrines for the schools, and repairing the 69 damaged boreholes in the Mukono communities. Additionally, they provide education on the links between water, sanitation and health, and the nature of and threats posed by environmental diseases,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe importance and main elements of hygiene-promotion and the complexities of delivering safe water and sanitation in an emergency.

EACO wants to make clean water accessible within 1 kilometer for 100% of the people in rural Mukono. By constructing and repairing fresh water wells throughout rural areas, EACO will bring relief to thousands of residents, including those in surrounding communities, significantly improving the health and wellbeing of the residents.

The vision and philosophy of EACO is based on the belief that every human being is a unique individual and that we all have a right to good health and basic needs and should access means to a comfortable life in one way or another.

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EACO believes that the first priority is that people should have a sustainable life.

However, almost equally important is that an individual’s life should have meaning and that they should develop independence. This is being achieved through care, then empowerment and support. This begins with infrastructure to give the Mukono communities clean water and latrines and stop the spread of disease. It is only then that communities can benefit from education. With improved health comes the ability to be employable, to generate income and escape from poverty.

To learn more about opportunities to donate to or volunteer with with EACO, which is a vetted NGO partner of UniversalGiving, check out their website!

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How Do You Keep Vaccines Cold in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

This is a special guest blog from The American Foundation for AIDS (AFCA).

The American Foundation for AIDS has been working the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since late 2007. There, we have provided medicine for patients cared for at Tandala Hospital and at 13 smaller clinics throughout the region known as the Ubangi. With little infrastructure in place (think – no electricity or running water) and with roads that are full of potholes, mud, and puddles, it is always an adventure when we visit the projects to see how things are going!

water spigotWhile visiting one year, we held discussions with local people to determine if there were other ways we could help those who need to take medicine. We decided to start a livelihoods pilot project, selecting 20 beneficiary families with whom to work. The families selected had to fit three criteria:

1. Child-headed household,

2. One live parent in the household, but sick or dying, or

3. A grandparent was raising the children who’d been orphaned by AIDS

Following this criteria, it was not difficult to find 20 families who qualified. They all received training in gardening and husbandry, in how to build appropriate housing for their livestock, in nutrition, and how to use donated water filters.

Once all the families were trained, they were given seeds and $50 to purchase tools needed and to rent a small plot of land to plant their gardens. Once gardens were started, families went through a second training and received their livestock. Guinea pigs, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens were all part of the project and each family received a specific number of one of the animals. With instructions not to barter, sell, kill, or trade the animals, families used the manure for their gardens, drank milk and ate some eggs while letting their animals reproduce.

It was then that we discovered the acute need for vaccines, as some animals were lost, due to swine flu and avian flu. We immediately started searching for the best solar fridge we could find and we purchased one through Sure Chill in 2015. We found an incredibly generous donor, who funded the purchase and shipment of the fridge all the way to Gemena, where it was installed at Elikya Farm, where AFCA maintains an animal multiplication center.

The solar fridge has changed EVERYTHING. Five people received para-vet training and they are in charge of making sure that livestock given by AFCA is healthy. They also vaccinate animals for the local community, earning a little income while helping others.

For the case study on how the solar fridge is changing lives, please click here.

Now, AFCA needs to procure another solar fridge to continue the life-saving work of providing a livelihood for our friends in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as we have expanded our work to the Tandala area and a fridge is needed there.

Please support our campaign to raise $8,000 for the fridge, shipping, fees, customs, taxes and delivery to the remote are of the DRC that needs it. Even a small gift will make a big impact. Donate here.

World Aids Day: Acting on HIV prevention

By Sarah Johnston

WAC-logoOn this very important day, World AIDS Day, I’m sure plenty of organizations and other blogs are giving people statistics and information about how devastating HIV and AIDS are. This is of course an extremely valid way of raising awareness but I thought it might be possible to show something positive, to focus on the hope shining in the darkness. One of our partner NGOs is PATH. They are essentially a catalyst for global health. Their mission is to have ‘a world where innovation ensures that health is within reach for everyone.’ They believe that solutions for the world’s biggest health problems are at hand and that it only takes a little creativity to make sure those solutions work in poor countries as well as rich ones. That creativity has been put to remarkable use in the fight against AIDS and I would like to share one of their incredible projects with you.

In Bungoma, western Kenya, before a crowd of 150 people, actors at an outdoor market demonstrate a young couple’s dilemma: she wants to go for counseling and an HIV test before getting intimate, but he feels like she’s questioning his manhood. Another actor stops the play to ask the audience, “Should this woman have sex with this man?” The audience responds with questions, suggestions, and lively debate. When the play resumes, they witness one possible ending.

PATH organizes such interactive community theater performances to prevent HIV transmission in Kenya, where nearly 9 percent of the population has HIV. Called “magnet theater” due to its natural pulling power, the regular performances are designed to get people talking about how traditional attitudes may be fueling the epidemic. One mother explains, “I do not know how to talk with my children about such things, so I encourage them to go to the magnet theater.” There, her young teenagers will join other people, young and old, who flock to take in the performances.

Because of their regularity and the audience participation, each performance is anticipated and much discussed by the whole community. Subjects such as HIV and sex, once taboo, become regular topics of conversation, laying the groundwork for societal attitudes to change, for new social norms to take hold.

This seems to me to be the only way that the fight can truly be won: grassroots campaigns that encourage a change in attitude and behavior. Finding a cure for AIDS is not necessarily the holy grail. Let’s face it, even if a cure did exist today, how many poor Africans would be able to access it do you think?

If this story of hope has inspired you today, I urge you to consider donating to PATH so they can continue with their hugely necessary and successful work. Thank you.