Step By Step Africa has a new partner in Uganda! In January 2012, SBSA teamed up with a new partner: Cyorf Foundation for Community Development, a grassroots organization serving impoverished women, children and youth, many who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, in the provinces of Jinja and Mayuge, Uganda. The Cyorf Foundation provides a number of services, including supporting elementary, secondary and vocational schools, running orphanages, offering HIV/AIDS awareness workshops and providing income generation programs for women.
Mayuge is a rural province and one of the poorest in Uganda, but the land is fertile and the communities are tight-knit: neighbours share, children play, and families grow what they can. While there, I stayed with a family who worked from six in the morning until midnight tending to livestock, working the land, and cooking over an open fire. I taught English at a primary school that consisted of two “classrooms”, which in reality were one long hut with a blackboard in the middle to separate the younger and older children. I taught in conjunction with three other teachers—we took turns standing in front of the room and leading oral activities; the students had no notebooks, no pens and no paper. The work was tiring for both teachers and students, but the challenge was well worth it. Seeing the children grasp new concepts, learn new words and songs, and genuinely enjoy the learning experience was immeasurably satisfying.
At first glance, it was difficult to recognize the affects of HIV/AIDS in the community. Certainly there was poverty, but HIV/AIDS was rarely named as a culprit. I began to believe that somehow the small and isolated communities of Mayuge had largely escaped the pandemic ravaging the rest of the country. I soon learned differently: Cyorf volunteers conducted a series of one-on-one needs assessments with community members who divulged that many in the community were HIV positive.
Mayuge was facing the same challenges as many other provinces in Uganda, including Jinja: orphaned children who could not afford to attend school, single mothers with few marketable skills and no income to support their children, and communities uneducated about the realities of HIV/AIDS. Cyorf’s programs address these challenges and work to lessen the effects of HIV/AIDS on Ugandan communities.
Through their support of schools, including vocational schools were women can learn marketable skills like tailoring, Cyorf is increasing general literacy and basic academic skills, as well as economical opportunities for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Education campaigns provided by Cyorf teach the realities of HIV/AIDS and strive to eradicate the negative stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. Orphanages provide stability and the necessities for children who have lost both parents and have no support system.
When you support Step-By-Step Africa, you are supporting Cyorf to do the work they do in Mayuge and Jinja—you are supporting Ugandans to create a better future for themselves and their children.
Co-Founder and Member of the Board of Directors
Christa at local school in Jinja, Uganda