PARC serves in the war devastated, underserved communities across the Rwenzori sub-region of western Uganda in the Albertine Region. We work closely with the grass-root resource poor people, local leaders, and relevant government departments in order to ensure that we understand fully the challenges facing the communities and that our projects meet the needs of these communities.
PARC programs impacts two vulnerable groups of people; the children/ youth, and women. The reason we choose to help these groups is due to their social status in the society and being the most marginalized people in any community and Uganda at-large. We are primarily focusing on integrating education and health with sustainability projects to improve socio-economic situation of the local people. This is why, we will increasingly support community development initiatives aimed at combating poverty and promoting social cohesion. By concentrating on these thematic areas, we believe strongly that, the whole community, and not just a few individuals, can benefit and helping to make them less dependent, hence prepare for life and opportunities for their future.
By empowering children, we are building stronger, sustainable communities and transmitting long-lasting change throughout generations. Your participation whatever it is (volunteering, connections, financial, technical, communication …) is welcome!
THE CHALLENGE AND LOCAL SITUATION
We have described PARC as being ‘grass-root organization’ and ‘ran by volunteers’ to realize community projects. We are very fortunate to have a few inspiring, hopeful people, full of skills and vision, but with limited resources. If it is possible to share some little resources, some funding and some mutually beneficial skills, it simply makes good sense to work with them and to share what they have with what the vulnerable communities have.
The ongoing effect of the Conflict, Wars and Internal Displacement:
Between 1970s and 1986s, Uganda has rebounded from civil war and economic catastrophe to become relatively peaceful, stable and prosperous. During this period, Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, where up to half a million people were killed in state-sponsored violence; first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin and then after the return to power of Milton Obote.
+ The cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of 1989 to 2015 rampaged across northern Uganda and neighboring countries of South Sudan, DR Congo, and the Central African Republic (CAR); abducting, raping and killing tens of thousands as well as displacing more than 1.5 million. Its leader Joseph Kony is still wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
+ Between 1994 to 2000s, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels adopted the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda as their theatre of operations. Over this period, it successfully destabilized the western Uganda districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kyenjojo; displacing large parts of the local population, left many people killed and many losing property.
+ The Rwenzori tribal conflicts (fighting marginalization). The Abayola revolt of 1919 to 1921 that was a result of the marginalization of the Bakonzo, Bamba, and Babwisi by Batooro of Tooro Kingdom that led to the “memorable” execution of the three leaders: Nyamutsa, Tibamwenda and Kapolya on 14th April, 1921 and buried in one grave in Kisinga, Kasese District.
The fight against marginalization reorganized as the Rwenzururu movement of 1962 to 1982 leading to the created Rwenzori (now Kasese) and Semuliki (now Bundibugyo) districts out of Tooro (now Kaborale) district in 1974 to guarantee administrative independence of Bakonzo and Bamba from Batooro. However, the movement subsequently struggled for the recognition of the Rwenzururu kingdom that became the defining factor in the politics and security of the Rwenzori region in post-independence Uganda.
The great impact of HIV/AIDS epidemic on Ugandan society:
HIV/AIDS was first recognized in Uganda in 1982 and since then Uganda has lost close to 2 million people to the HIV epidemic, more than all post independence wars combined together. Uganda has an estimated 1.2 million children orphaned due to AIDS-related deaths (and the number of children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS has been increasing – some experts fear that this figure could increase five-fold in the next five years). Currently, there are more than 1.5 million Ugandans are estimated to be living with HIV and AIDS. It’s effects on the economy and society remains unacceptably high with up to 83,000 having contracted the HIV in 2016 (227 infections per day and 9 infections per hour).
According to the Ministry of Health, 70% of medical admissions are HIV-related. Yet Uganda’s chronic shortage of trained healthcare workers – the health ministry says the country is running at 60% capacity – means that there are already insufficient numbers of qualified professionals to distribute and administer treatment plans. Also, the Ministry of Finance warns that, increasing at its current rate, the wave of new HIV cases could see Uganda’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) fall by 1.2% in the next five years.
HIV/AIDS has affected both rural and urban dwellers, adults and children and the impacts cut across regions and occupational groups with varying magnitude. HIV/AIDS, especially in resource-constrained settings, results in physical and psychological suffering of the infected and eventually the affected. Consequently HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality has negatively affected development initiatives at individual, household, sector and eventually national levels as individual and household savings are depleted to access care for the sick while income inflows from affected adults are cut off due to sickness and attending to the sick. Labour shortage as a result of HIV/AIDS mortality and morbidity may well result in a crisis in the traditionally labour-intensive agricultural system in areas that have been severely hit by HIV/AIDS. Lack of improvement in Infant and child mortality rates is largely attributed to paediatric AIDS while AIDS is highlighted as the leading cause of death among adults.
Post Conflict Recovery and National Rebuilding:
Since becoming president in 1986 Yoweri Museveni has introduced democratic reforms at a steady pace and been credited with substantially improving human rights, notably by reducing abuses by the army and the police. Western-backed economic reforms produced solid growth and falls in inflation in the 1990s, and the discovery of oil and gas in the west of the country has boosted some confidence, although progress and development are slow and complex. The global economic turndown of 2008 hit Uganda hard, given its continuing dependence on coffee exports, and pushed up food prices.
Although there is peace in the region, many rural areas of Rwenzori region in western Uganda are still poverty stricken, due to the ravages and debilitating effects of civil war. Still the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the region and Uganda atlarge remain blighted by these most brutal rebellions. All communities we serve are either the actual victims, or the children of victims, of this ‘civil war’ or ‘insurgency’, as it is called. People may have food to eat – as it grows easily in the climate, but mainly at a subsistence level. Cash is so scarce, so a child’s education may be fragmented and intermittent – daily living for the poorest members of the community is extremely precarious and tough. Sometimes a family will choose, for financial reasons, to educate one child at a time.
REVERSING THE TREND
Sharing Ideas, Combining Skills and Connecting Resources:
By being able to spend time within communities, listening to them and understanding some of the complexities of the situation from their point of view, it helps us to build a realistic picture of what is feasible, practical, necessary and sustainable.
Taking Steps to Get Out of Poverty:
Education, health, and livelihoods (getting an income) are the vital steps someone needs to be able to take to start to make a move out of the endless, repressive pit of poverty.
Most people just need a chance – an opportunity to start to be able to move out of the shell. Nothing that difficult to impossible!. An offer of good schooling in a solid, nurturing environment, and the backup of good quality healthcare couples with supplementary income can do this.