Organisation working to eliminate corporal punishment in the community
In the 2014 Tumaini Awards, child rights organisations in partnership with New Vision are seeking to honour and recognise individuals, organisations and businesses working to improve the lives of children in Uganda. Today ANDREW MASINDE examines the contributions of Nurture Africa toward improving access to education and safer school environment.
Alfred Muhumuza sits under a mango tree, biting his fi ngernails and staring in oblivion. His remaining parent had succumbed to AIDS the month before. His parents’ illness had drained all the family resources, forcing Muhumuza to live with his poor grandfather.
Although Muhumuza loved school, his grandfather lacked the means to provide the basic scholastic materials. Muhumuza was, therefore, in and out of school until Nurture Africa, a local non-government organisation (NGO) came to his rescue.
“Nurture Africa started catering for my school needs. I want to become a lawyer to defend children’s rights. I will also want to form an NGO to help orphans and destitute children,” adds Muhumuza, 13, now a pupil at St. Don Bosco Primary School in Mubende district.
Muhumuza is one of the 527 children being supported by Nurture Africa. The organisation was established in 2004 to assist orphans and vulnerable children get quality education. Franklin Muhindo, the organisation’s advocacy coordinator, says through child rights clubs and family initiatives, they sensitise parents to send their children to school and urge children who dropped out of school to go back to school.
Stance on violence
Nurture Africa also promotes the child protection policy in its 86 partner schools to eliminate corporal punishment and promote a violence-free environment for school children.
“We conduct research and develop user manuals on elimination of corporal punishment and offer alternative means of disciplining children,” Muhindo says.
The organisation raises awareness on child protection-related issues and equips children with life skills to keep them safe in schools and communities. It also establishes and maintains a procedure for preventing, identifying, and managing cases of child abuse in schools and communities.
“We support children who have been abused and their families,”
Muhindo says. He adds that they ensure the school children are kept in a conducive environment where they feel secure and encouraged to talk and are listened to.
Training of parents and guardians about the negative impacts of corporal punishment is one of their other roles in this community, according to the residents that New Vision talked to.
“One of my neighbours used to mistreat her children. When we intervened, she told us it was her right to punish her children. When we reported the case to the local council, she was summoned and cautioned,” James Kwebiha, a resident of Mubende, explains.
He says he reported his neighbour because Nurture Africa had taught them about children’s rights.
Other community services
The organisation operates from Monday to Friday, during which time children and their caregivers receive services such as healthcare free-of charge.
The programme has so far supported 1,000 to 5,000 children in over 86 primary government-aided and private schools. The organisation also operates three children’s community libraries utilised by 30 partner primary schools.
Nurture Africa also helps parents to start businesses.
“Through our sustainable livelihood programme, we train parents in business management and entrepreneurship skills, will writing and birth registration,” Muhindo says.
James Kimbowa, the country director, says the programmes are designed in such a way that the beneficiaries identify initiatives that best suit their needs. This, he says, enhances their capacity to own the initiatives.
“Through strengthening the referral network and trainings in business management, our clients have gone an extra mile by joining financial institutions. All the programmes are funded by project partners and local funding,” Kimbowa says.
Guardians of the children from the HIV Community and Education Enablement Projects are given training on how to start or develop an income-generating activity.
The guardians are also given a loan to make their families self-sufficient and break free from poverty.
“Nurture Africa Health Centre plans to provide free primary health care to 15,000 orphans and vulnerable children,” according to Muhindo. This health care programme will mainly handle the biggest threats to under-fi ve-year-olds, including malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles.
The organisation expects to provide access to care, treatment and counselling to 600 more HIV-positive children and 700 HIV-positive guardians.
It also plans to enable 150 more guardians, 100 HIV-positive adolescent girls and 50 unemployed youth get training and resources to start or improve an income generating activity.
The organisation, Muhindo says, plans to construct a laboratory and cervical cancer screening centre, a maternity and general admissions wards and also procure a CD4 machine.
It also plans to continue giving scholarships to underprivileged children.