With or without a formal education background, all people can tap into skilling ventures to boost their incomes and improve livelihoods. There is increased recognition that investment in women brings valuable skills, empathy, and an ability to relate to and support others who are accessing the social service system. At the same time, the opportunity to work allows women living in poverty to change their economic status and feel empowered by their contribution to society.
To achieve this, we are working to establish a COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT CENTRE, a holistic program that will provide in-depth training preparing disadvantaged groups (youth and women) as entrepreneurs as well as use a gender-based approach to identify specific barriers and challenges they face in the workforce. This center will double to provide vocational skill and competence development, temporary residential care (housing) for vulnerable single mothers (and other abused women and children), and a guest house (volunteer accommodation) in the community – creating new life opportunities for social change.
PARC makes every effort to keep vulnerable children in the safety nets of their families and the community. All our projects are directed towards strengthening and equipping families to care for, protect and support orphans and vulnerable children in their communities. We are working towards this by:-
VOCATIONAL AND LIFE SKILLS TRAINING
Preparing children to grow up into hardworking and productive adults in the community is vital for them to lead a successfully independent adult life. This project equips young adults with the tools, skill sets, and support to succeed. The center will admit participants annually in cohorts, who will be trained in various skills including tailoring and knitting, salon/hairdressing, carpentry, welding, mushroom growing, and computer literacy – all being incorporated with basic literacy (Reading/Writing and Numeracy) training, financial literacy training, and business management training. PARC seeks to provide basic tools for success, identify career goals and possibilities, and assist with the transition into non-traditional skill development and creation of new employment opportunities. Each young adult is equipped with skills in a career field that fits their interests and special talents. Their talents and abilities are identified through assessment and they are connected with local resources and programs based on their career field
In order to provide more economic development services to the community, we will offer a series of skill set training at the PARC community Empowerment Centre. The training programs will have courses running from six (6) months to one (1) year – an intensive course that uses highly practical and business-centered approaches to create local entrepreneurs. The participants will be first trained in a practical skill of their own choosing, then provided with business classes coupled with mentoring, AND finally offered the opportunity to apply for a loan to open their own enterprises utilizing their new capabilities!
The trainees who excel will be retained at the center to help train the new entrants – making the center more sustainable and cost-effective in terms of operations. After completing this training, the graduates have the option to get one-to-one support through our social enterprises in some form of apprenticeship, from where they will be followed up and continuously mentored to put the knowledge and skills acquired into practice. Throughout the program, we provide integrated support so that the families can better plan for their future that involves the training of zonal volunteers in OVC care, who then train caregivers and reinforces better care with OVC caregivers during home visits. Additionally, children (OVC) are trained in peer-to-peer counseling so that they may acquire cognitive skills that will enable them to realize their potential and also improve their interpersonal skills.
Centre alumnae will be mobilized to form groups, which will be then given further supported through our other programs such as specialty training to produce products for sale, with the returns being shared between PARC and beneficiaries. PARC’s financial return will cover the day-to-day project costs. During this time of apprenticeship, participants will be in a better position to decide if they will voluntarily be working at the center of if they are starting their own business, and through the alumnae groups, they can apply to be supported by the provision of micro-loans for business start-up.
TEMPORARY HOUSING FOR SINGLE MOTHERS (VULNERABLE FAMILIES)
Often, girls in third-world countries are forced into marriage or hard labor jobs or get unplanned pregnancies before the age of 13, and most often abandoned or widowed, victims of HIV+ or sex trafficking—they are destitute fearing that their children will soon join the ranks of Uganda’s countless orphanages. The region is made up of families from a wide range of economic backgrounds. Many survive on minimal wages, making just enough to provide the basic necessities for their families. However, there are also those that do not even achieve this level of provision. Over the years, we have met single mothers heading families that live on less than $10 per month, and those who sleep in bars after failing to pay rent because they were chased from their homes for being pregnant. With the average cost for house/room rentals at $20-$50/month, even providing shelter for their families becomes almost impossible.
With all of their money being used for rent, there is essentially nothing left to buy food and other basics for their families, including paying medical bills if one of their children becomes sick. For such families, education is a luxury that often is not within their grasp unless they have received child sponsorship, to assist with paying of their fees.
We wish to advocate for the young-women in our community, and help them to provide temporary residential care alongside life-skills training programming. Our goal is to use part of PEC property to provide free housing for 5 – 10 different families in the community for twenty four months. During this time, the single mothers (women) will receive life skills training in trade/business and employment market. These trades have the potential to earn far higher wages to provide financial stability for their families. After 12 months, we will start to prepare the women at the transitional shelter for independent living, so they will participate in a four-week training course that introduces them to microfinance, basic financial and business management concepts. The course will prepare them to receive their first microloans, and our staff will continue to build on their skills during weekly meetings throughout the six-month program. After completing the program, they will be eligible to receive tools for business in form of a loan in order to help them establish or grow their own business/trade and attain long-term financial security.
Continuous support for the single mothers and their families
We will work to provide as some financial assistance over the 24 months for these families. This will allow the women to fully commit to their training without the pressure of working long hours for minimal wages in an effort to provide for their children. The children of these women will receive free education at PARC Learning Centres, while all the family members (women and children) will receive free healthcare at PARC clinic while their fledgling business grows.
Once the women have completed the program, we will assist them in finding affordable housing for their families so they can begin their independent lives. If funding allows, each family will also receive materials to construct a small home with a sturdy roof, a stable floor, and a latrine.
PARC GUESTHOUSE (VOLUNTEER ACCOMMODATION)
Partners for Real Change (PARC) is gaining a reputation and many enthusiastic people globally are very excited to join as volunteers. For the last years, we received 2 international volunteers annually (on average!). These volunteers (guests) have been accommodated in private guest house, where the ‘money paid’ does not directly benefit the rural poor communities. Although volunteer engagements had been previously hampered by lack of accommodation, we see our volunteer network drastic growing, hence expect an increasing influx of international volunteers each year. As a small, remote based volunteer ran organization lacks a constant source of funding yet our volunteers have been paying lots of money to entrepreneurs running accommodation facilities distant from the local communities. Whiles this money levied by entrepreneurs for accommodating volunteers does not directly support the local community programming, the volunteers are also practically separated from PARC and the communities served in addition to the huge expenses incurred in transporting volunteers (moving to and from the community).
By using part of the community empowerment centre as a guesthouse, it means that we have a safer and convenient place for our volunteers and visitors to lodge (be accommodated) hence generating income (lodging fees) that will help maintain the guesthouse (meet operational expense) and allow PARC to attain sustainability whereby the profits will be used to meet PARC operations and expand community programming (funding community projects). By having our own guest-house, both volunteers and PARC as an organisation will save a large amount of money and time, while strengthening local economy through purchase (buying) of local organic foodstuff and creating local employment opportunities (jobs). At the same time, it will be easier to source and host many more international since all parties will be rest assured of secure and easy to monitor place to stay.