Children Belong in Families, so we must strengthen and equip families to care for vulnerable children in their communities – this is only possible by building the skills and competence of the community and developing their leadership capacity to be continually progressing toward self-sustainability.
While many orphaned children in Uganda live with a caring grandmother or aunt, they remain socially isolated and out of school, in addition to continuously experiencing poor health and hunger.
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.
Economic access, education, and healthcare are inextricably linked. With over 50% of the total population under the age of 15 years, Uganda has a very high unemployment rate, in which 18-30 year-olds make up 64% of unemployed persons. In rural Uganda, people live in poverty and consequently, they have no possibility to afford the costs of basic needs. There are no enough jobs and employment opportunities are bleak – all people lack productive assets and micro-credit opportunities. Unemployment leads to poverty – without any income, the inability to save translates into the inability to invest!.
Most people in rural areas of Uganda barely produce enough to consume, without a surplus to invest in growth. In case of shocks like a lost harvest or death in the family, a complete lack of safety nets makes families extremely vulnerable. When people are too poor, it is very different to make a decision for a better future. Without employment, many women and youth may be forced into the position of sexual abuse, and exploitation. When peoples’ incomes are increased, they are able to send their children to school, can afford to visit a health facility in case of an illness, and can embrace good nutritional security.
PARC aims to empower marginalized people living in rural communities in Uganda by providing relevant life skills training and income-generating opportunities to enhance not only their survival but also their capacity to sustain their basic needs and support their families for a better future.
PARC COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT CENTRE
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 run a program that provides 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 and pre-school (daycare) to the community – creating new life opportunities for social change. 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.
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. 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.
This is a social business project that will allow the youth and women to learn and develop a specific skill set in either in craftsmanship, tailoring, knitting & embroidery, jewelry design, pottery, beauty salon, or leather works, empowering them to become sustainable. This project is part of the psycho-social support program whose primary objective is to use crafts (Art-Craft) as a form of art therapy for vulnerable girls and women, and /or those who have gone through various traumatic situations and challenges including sexual exploitation and abuse, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. In addition, the tailoring and knitting training activities will also lead to the production of school uniforms and school sweaters, particularly for children at our school and any other orders from the community/schools, as well as making fashion-tailored clothes for public demand (customer-driven orders for women, men, and children), and making toys and dolls from clothing remains for our early childhood development (ECD) service promotions in the community.
As the program stabilizes, we will seek contracts with multiple schools, businesses, and organizations to make uniforms, sweaters, bags, and other local demand items such as reusable sanitary pads and dolls. Concurrently, these youth and women will continue to perfect their handiwork in the creation of beautiful merchandise that is sold in the tourist craft market in Uganda and overseas. Every item that is made and /or sold will not only supports PARC but provides an income for the youth and women, enabling them to take care of themselves and their families.
Our enterprise model is not only about equipping the youth and women with life skills, but also giving them equipment to set up the business after completing the training program – we will give equipment loans which they can then pay in small installments while earning a livelihood. This way, they are able to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
The youth and women are incredibly talented weavers and indigenous farmers whose main barrier between a life of poverty and unlimited possibilities is access to a market. Despite producing most of the world’s food, local farmers tend to be food insecure themselves: globally, they form the majority of people living in poverty because they lack links to better markets that would enable them to receive fair prices for their work.
PARC is committed to helping artisans and farmers bring their products (handmade goods, coffee, and cocoa) to market on more than “a fair-trade basis”, improve their livelihoods, and develop sustainable businesses with the goal of encouraging self-reliance, minimizing rural exodus to urban centers (cities), advancing food security in the community. Rural poverty is complex, and there is no single solution to the problems artisans and farmers face. To address this, we are providing;-
Training: we offer production value-chain training (business education), coupled with quality control training and support
Micro-loans: We offer interest-free loans with a flexible repayment system allowing them to pay back any amount throughout the loan term.
Value addition: We facilitated the production process (whether it is just recycling local waste into beads or jewelry, or it is washing to drying coffee or cocoa,) and assist in sorting and grading products before finally being stored.
Market facilitation: Promote market access through development partners abroad (retailers in the US, etc) and an online e-commerce platform. PARC is negotiating partnerships /contracts with multiple businesses (organizations) of selling of merchandises to them on a collaboration – that is more than fair trade, where in addition to the better market offered a portion of the net profit from the sales will be donated to fund local projects in the community. ALL PROFITS SUPPORTED BY DONATIONS ARE RECYCLED BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH
BUSINESS SKILL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING
In order to provide more economic development services to the community, we will offer a series of skill set training at 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!
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.
SUPPORTING CHILDREN’S EDUCATION
With over 2.7 million orphans living in Uganda and a typical household with an average of 5 children, the families are overwhelmed by the burden of children. We support orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in their homes, schools, and communities, backed with sustainability programs to help guardians – parents and their elder siblings earn an income and create long-term, sustainable change. Each year, our team together with local community leaders identifies the most vulnerable children who would otherwise not get an education otherwise, and we put them on the list for help by offering them a position at PARC schools. We intermix these children with others from the community, keeping them anonymous so they can go to school with dignity, free from the stigma of being vulnerable and in need.
Your donations support the holistic development of individual children as well as their schools to ensure a safe and quality learning environment for every child, ultimately maximizing the impact on the whole community. For every child SPONSORED, another 5 children on our program who do not have any help from their guardian or a sponsor will also indirectly benefit while for every 5 children that pay FULL SCHOOL FEES, 1 vulnerable child gets a half-fees scholarship (using PARC’s innovative child sponsorship model) – that’s because we work to strengthen the whole community, so all children can thrive.
The children in the sponsorship program receive an education, emotional (psychosocial) support, and are visited at their homes on a quarterly basis to identify areas of need in their health and livelihood. An important part of our sponsorship program is our relationship with the children’s relatives. In order to become a beneficiary in this program, we require our children’s parents or caregivers relatives to work alongside us and take an active role in building their children’s futures – as such we encourage families to provide what they can, whether as small as a couple of school supplies or as big as partial tuition. As a result, parents and guardians continue to take pride and responsibility in their children’s well-being, and in return, the children grow up knowing that their family did what they could out of love. Families of benefiting children are linked directly to the skill development programs to promote income-generating opportunities for these children and their families, breaking the stigma of vulnerability by showing the community that we all have a role to play!
PROVISION OF MICROLOANS
We pair the giving out of micro-loans with financial literacy, comprehensive management, leadership, business training, and incentives to save. Our community-based financial literacy program provides training and workshops through the village savings and loan association. This continued learning, paired with income-earning opportunities, enables women to become confident leaders, in charge of family finances, health, and education. Through financial literacy, our beneficiaries are taught the value of long term financial planning and receive incentives for the deposits made in their personal savings accounts. We charge low interest on the loans such that we’re able to cover some of the expenses to deliver the training and support needed to ensure that our clients succeed.
Health costs in Uganda remain high – a recent study by WHO revealed that Ugandans spend 22 percent of their earnings on health care. A serious or chronic illness of a family member usually means either the death of the person affected, because he has no access to adequate medical care or the financial ruin of the entire family. The idea of health insurance is largely unheard of in rural Uganda.
Micro-insurance: We will have an insurance package where the patients at our clinic pay for 50% of their bills, while the micro-insurance covers the other half of all charges incurred for a health visit. This project will be subsidized by proceeds from the fair trade market that will help set-up an insurance fund, and encourage families to save money and they are able to use it at the time when they fall sick. Every member of the project will able to get his/her money back whenever they need it – so it does not work like an insurance company but rather saves and keeps the money for the community health support.
Field patient program: We will collaborate with local and international health professionals to organize mobile interventions, referrals, and financial assistance to patients whose health conditions require more advanced treatment at a specialized healthcare facility.