The proposed club, SI Lira has so far tackled four activities. These included: Skills development where women and girls were introduced to and taught how to make table clothes and bags; making homemade sanitary towels; Adult Functional Literacy (FAL) and support to mothers and children in the Therapeutic Feeding Unit in Lira Referral Regional Hospital. The women and girls participating in skills development are operating in three different locations and FAL in two different locations, that is Akany in Amac sub county and Ayamo in Barr sub county.
FAL programmes take place in a primary school in Ayamo and Akany. The primary schools were in the first place selected randomly in the remote locations of Lira District. They were the same schools where the hand-made sanitary towels were distributed to the girls who were in dire need of the sanitary towels. These girls were subsequently invited to come with their mothers whom we discussed with on how to support the girls to stay in school and protect them from violence and groom them to become responsible future leaders and mothers. This was then the entry point for the introduction of FAL and skills development. This approach proved effective as we did not have to get to the communities to mobilize women. In our initial meetings, we requested the school authorities to invite the area Local Council Chairman 1. In doing this, we registered our presence in the area in order to avoid any claims that we are in the area illegally.
The Therapeutic Feeding Center in Lira Regional Referral Hospital was taken on as a special project of the proposed Club. The Center takes care of malnourished children and babies as they are hospitalized. This project, though still at its preliminary stages is expected to address other health needs of women and will go a long way to contribute to access to health care in the long run which is one of the objectives of SI. The proposed club informally visited the Feeding center, interacted with the hospital staff, mothers and the children in order to understand their needs. The SI team also delivered assorted items such as sugar, soap and bath mats. In a letter dated 30th December 2016, the proposed club sought to formally partner with the hospital to provide support to children. This gesture was gladly received by the hospital authorities and we expect a fruitful partnership.
Skills development was initially introduced in three locations in Lira Town. The club subsequently introduced the skills in the two locations above where FAL and reusable sanitary towels were introduced. Women participating in skills development initially worked in groups under team leaders who are members of the proposed club. Subsequently, the women and girls selected their group leaders from among themselves. Women and girls were enthusiastic, converging willingly whenever called upon to come for training. Others have been described as fast learners and hardworking and showing interest all the way through. They were also very receptive of the idea of having women helping fellow women to transform their lives as they described the initiative as a rare opportunity.
Work progressed well as demonstrated in the finished work highlighted in this summary report. However, there were some mistakes as well as slow learners identified. Members worked together with individual trainees to correct the errors whenever they were identified. Trainees were also encouraged to learn many skills so that they can later specialize in skills of interest. In a rating on a scale of one to five where one represents poor, two is fair, three is good, four is very good and five excellent work, ninety percent of the trainees were rated on a scale of four, denoting very good performance.
The proposed club also reached out to school girls and distributed home- made and reusable sanitary out the sanitary towels. This was done in two primary schools in the remote sub counties in Lira District. The outreach took place in Akang Primary School (Amac sub county) and Ayamo Primary school (Barr sub county). This was very much welcomed and the girls were very happy and their parents appreciated it too. A total of 123 girls received the kits. A kit contained 3 reusable sanitary pads and 2 underwear each for the fairly older girls who were and the much younger girls who do not need sanitary towels received 2 underwear each and they were 98 in number. Spare sanitary towels were left with the school authorities. This was at the request of the welfare teachers and intended to address emergencies arising while the girls were at school.
Follow up visits to both schools were made where it was revealed that life had become a lot easier at school for the girls using the reusable home-made sanitary towels. In Akany in particular, the young ladies revealed that the attitudes of their parents especially the mothers who attended the first meeting has since changed and they have become much more supportive compared to the past. During the follow up visit, the club provided three buckets as was requested by the welfare teacher to help the girls clean up whenever need arises.
Despite progress made, there were and still exist challenges in effectively reaching women and girls in the communities. The needs are massive and expectations are high. The number of ladies participating in the training continued to fluctuate due to various reasons such as school visitation, social functions like weddings, burials. Others were too busy during the rainy seasons working in the gardens. One particular case was that of a housemaid who was barred from attending the training by her mistress. On the part of members there were also various constraints such as time, difficulty in mobilizing financial resources and high expectations that we had to deal with.