Economic access, education, and health are inextricably linked. Unemployment leads to poverty – without any income, the inability to save translates into inability to invest!. When people are too poor, it is very different to make a decision for a better future. Without education and employment, many women and youth maybe 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 visiting a healthy 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 to enhance their incomes for improved livelihoods.
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. One of the largest problems of extreme poverty is the inability to save, which in turn 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.
To improve on the status of women and children, we realize that firstly, we need to build their financial and social strength. To achieve this, PARC runs an Entrepreneurship Incubator model that puts development into the hands of local people and therefore increases autonomy within the beneficiary communities, thereby reducing dependence on the donor community. This model makes sure that everyone participating knows that the work they do in turn supports children and women in need, right in their own community. Besides, targeting to improve the incomes of women participating in these specific projects, it offers opportunities to used as training and apprenticeship centres for out-of-school youth, giving them future marketable skills.
The Entrepreneurship Incubator hosts and facilitates life skill training on the production and marketing of various quality crafts, through the following key social enterprises:-
Handcraft social enterprise:
This focuses on training and the production of quality jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, and ear-rings), bags, baskets, bottle-top clocks, etc. This project is part of the psycho-social support program whose primary objective is to use jewelry making and other crafts as a form of art therapy for vulnerable girls and women, and /or those who have who have gone through various traumatic situations and challenges including sexual exploitation and abuse, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence.
All the hand-craft products are crafted from recycle paper, seeds, cow-horns, banana-fiber, raffia, fabric, etc blended with various shades of color. This social enterprise uses ethically sourced local materials and it is based on up-cycling principles (recycling for sustainable, fair world).
Why invest in craft enterprise?
Handcraft work can be done at home alongside other family chores – so it can be a form of purposeful recreation involving both children and adults. PARC intends to help local artists make a fair wage (by selling internationally) and use remaining profits to fund community projects. All benefits from our craft enterprise are strictly for the artist who produced the product and for the community we serve.
Our commitment to sustainability is 2-fold; creating supplementary incomes and decrease environmental impact!. All our products are made from sustainable or recycled materials, and they are eco-friendly because they are handmade (they are not being produced in factories generating a sizeable carbon footprint). As we increase the number of re-cycled or re-purposed product, our commitment to social/financial and environmental sustainability will continue to grow.
While the craft product will impact the lives of local people in Uganda by helping with a living (an income), these products also have the capacity to go around the world and take with them messages of culture, peace, and good will.
Tailoring and sewing social enterprise:
This focuses on tailoring and knitting training and the production of school uniforms and school sweaters, particularly for children at our school and any other orders from the community/schools, making fashion-tailored clothes for public demand (customer driven orders for women, men and children), and making toys and dolls from clothe remains for our ECD (nursery) children.
Why invest in tailoring and sewing enterprise?
It’s about training for sustainable change and a lifetime empowerment!. Our enterprise model is not only about equipping needy women with sewing skills, but also giving them equipment to set up a tailoring business after completing training program. The women will then pay for the equipment in small installments while earning a livelihood. This way, they are able to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
Hygiene product social enterprise:
This focuses on the production of quality reusable sanitary pads and making soap (liquid and bar soap); with the net result to provide sustainable employment for poor women/girls, while creating a sustainable supply of low-cost eco-friendly sanitary protection to girls and women of reproductive age and increasing access to cheap locally produced quality soap to reduce the spread of diseases..
Through this enterprise, PARC also offer product-pegged training programs on making low-cost products to the community.
Why invest in hygiene product enterprise?
In developing countries like Uganda, a tangle of health, economic and social issues intertwine, perpetuating cycles of poverty and crushing illness.In rural Uganda, particularly, lack of sanitary pads, soap and knowledge about sanitation and personal hygiene contribute to poor health conditions. The high prevalence of disease and high school drop-out among girls, demands increased education regarding prevention and reduction of risk; however, economic factors inhibit the implementation of -and access to related educational programs.
While the product from the hygiene enterprise can impact the lives of local people in Uganda by helping with a living (an income), these product also have the capacity to go around the world and take with them messages of culture, love, peace, and good will.
Item rental social enterprise:
This is a win-win business of renting or hiring out items such as wooden benches, plastic chairs, tents and cutlery (serving utensils) to the community during for social functions such as weddings, funerals, and parties to generate sustainable income. We have added an auxiliary part of this program, which is the mobile catering services– where agroup of women and youth can be hired out to do food preparation, and serve the meals using their own items during the social function.
PARC is therefore continuously seeking for partners to buy the various items such as plastic chairs, tents, mattresses, food warmers, serving dishes, serving plates, etc that can be hired by the public (community members) for use at social functions such as weddings, funerals, and parties to generate sustainable income, which can in-turn be used to support youth and women to raise their financial and social status and surplus profits used support the on-going community projects such as savings and internal lending community (SILC) groups, school supplies for OVCs, health insurance, etc.
This is an edutainment program that uses the arts as a bridge to bring hope, healing, life skills and resilience to marginalized communities (children, youth, adults, families, etc.) in the contexts of crisis and poverty – it engages the life changing power of art-making as economic skills for sustainability. At PARC’s school – Shine Preparatory School, the orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) are finding relief through the innovative curriculum that uses music, drama, drawing, poetry, and play as therapy to help students process their grief.
PARC’s Art Production program includes:- music (singing, dance, and drama), visual art, and documenting memory and/or history. In collaboration with international partners, we hope to also use the power of arts to create awareness around the world on the history of the local communities we serve and the needs of the Ugandan people. As part of this program, it is therefore possible to produce music CDs, visual prints (drawings), photo albums, and videos and /or books that can be sold to create income to that can contribute towards fund our operational costs and project.
THE MUSIC PROJECT:
The is an innovative outreach program that aim at sharing special messages through traditional and contemporary music, as well as increase the awareness of PARC in the western world. Our plan is to perform regularly at events across Kasese, and beyond, as well as produce CDs/DVDs that can be sold both offline and online – in the process, it will raise money and awareness for PARC and its programs.
At PARC, we know music is a universal language for all people, regardless of age, race or gender, and one of the most powerful communication tool – it is a great funny and entertaining way to passage messages as well as facilitating trauma healing. In addition to promoting physical, emotional and mental health, music has nonverbal, creative, and structural qualities that used to facilitate interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication and personal development.
PARC’s music project is at its infant stage, but gradually growing from strength to strength and now well known not only in the community (Kisinga) but also in other areas of Kasese District. It is composed of 2 key groups;- PARC junior troupe and PARC senior troupe.
The PARC Junior Troupe:
The junior troupe is made up of talented children aged 8-15 years, who admirably represent the orphaned and poverty-stricken youth of Uganda. The members are selected from children who attend the Shine Preparatory School and other schools we partner with, most of whom come from less disadvantaged backgrounds – are orphans and vulnerable.
Research has proven that, children who learn music and musical instruments dramatically enhance their abstract reasoning skills, which are essential for maths and science based subjects. As part of the extra-curricular activities, the children are taught song learning, active music making (playing instruments, vocalizing), active listening and song writing, and traditional and contemporary dancing. The music trainer and the schools’ music teachers select this group with the input from others like the PARC seniors troupe.
Music is not only a great way for the children to develop skills, be encouraged in their talents and express themselves creatively, but it also provide the children with a safe place to explore and enjoy themselves. Through regular practice and structured rehearsals, children develop resilience to overcoming challenges and learn how to solve problems using available resources. In addition to talent development, increased self-esteem and confidence among the children, the children are also using music to advocate for their rights and to raise awareness about important issues that they face.
The PARC Senior Troupe:
Music not only aids communication to the wider community, but also gives a sense of belonging and well-being, provides a focus with a communal goal and promotes community development and cohesion. Being absorbed in music provides a distraction from negative thoughts; it lifts people’s moods, helps with mental health and has a calming effect.
The PARC senior troupes are farmers and people who have experienced all sorts of challenges, so the PARC senior troupes pass educational and advocacy messages related life-experience through musical arts. The current theme of their singing is Health, Education, and History. This follows on from our campaign to cope up with what we passed through and focus on trying to combat illiteracy and promote better health for a fair, sustainable future – where poverty will be history.
PARC regularly runs fun, educational singing workshops to give joy, teach new skills and provide a sense of well-being, achievement and community cohesion. During the singing workshops, the women and men will be taught new songs in English including learning to sing the Uganda National Anthem, and also encouraged to composed and /or learn songs of their own choice.
We need your support:
We need musical instruments and customs. We wish to add a brass band. We want to start music school with a recording studio. We need people who can teach our troupes as well as record their music to make CDs for sell.
By purchasing our CDs, you continue to support marginalized children and adults – and their sincere desire to care for those who are vulnerable and most in need.
VISUAL ART PROJECT
This project involves identifying and nurturing creative talents among local vulnerable children and adults. Besides learning how to express themselves through visual arts, the children and adults also develop important social skills, teamwork, and self-confidence in a fun learning environment.
The artwork will educate the public on various issues such as health, environmental management, peaceful coexistence and good leadership. The artwork will be used for making prints; could be printed on postcards, calendars, shirts and create photo albums that is then sold either auction (off-line) or through the web-market place.
The children and adults will also take part in writing memory books to help them recall the past such as war-time or what their mother and father were like in case of orphans, and to remember their families. As part of this project, PARC will take pictures of human alphabets created by approximately over 120 kids in each letter. The pictures will be sold as limited edition photo art in the PARC’s web-shop or auctioned.
Most of the proceeds / money raised through sales of artwork (art products) will go towards supporting children and adults making them, and buying more art supplies, while remaining funds will be used to fund children’s projects such school fees, school feeding, etc – giving kids in need a better start in life.
We need your support:
We need art supplies. We need people who can teach visual art skills as well as help our children to make artwork for sell – auction and online.
By purchasing kids’ artwork, you continue to support children’s imaginations – and their sincere desire to care for children who are vulnerable and most in need.
PARC COMMUNITY CENTRE
This will become a vehicle to transform society by taking strategic measures to reduce poverty and increase opportunities, particularly for destitute children and their families. This will provide a location for;-
Vocational training services:
It will house the Life Skills and Entrepreneurship Incubator that constitutes of the social enterprise program. This vocational skill training program targets the youth and women mothers in need of an alternative to create and/or supplement their daily income. This project helps the targeted groups to learn a trade, enabling them to find a job or to start their own business. This vocational skill training will be offered alongside functional adult literacy (FAL) classes, safe parenthood education, health and hygiene education, food and nutrition education, sexual and reproductive health /health rights – SRH/SRHR, gender equality training and child rights awareness.
PARC is working on developing a program guide (curriculum), and our goal is to provide support and help to these youth and women in getting a job after completing the training, and we invite them to join one of our many saving groups. In this way, they have the opportunity to earn a solid income and improve their living conditions. At the same time, the economic development and food security of their families and communities will be enhanced as well.
Why invest in vocational training?
Many formal and non-formal education programs in Uganda are unable to provide practical skills that can be harnessed to create employment – many graduates end-up into the job-seeking syndrome, which is one of the reasons why youth unemployment generally is very high in Uganda. The unemployed need help in developing their capacity to create income generating activities, hence strengthening them to be able to meet the basic need of their children and their families and achieve sustainability at household and community levels.
This project will not only be a safe place where youth and women can meet, train to learn a skill (tailored income-generating project), and interact to share experience, but it will provide vulnerable community members with the opportunity to earn a solid income and improve their living conditions – while at the same time, strengthening the economic development and food security of their families and communities.
Daycare (ECD) services:
In Uganda, government investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) is low. The challenges to providing adequate care for young children are further compounded by war and displacement, chronic poverty, and disease. This will double as a daycare and pre-school (nursery school) that will receive children of ages from 2 years to -7 years, still too young to be enrolled into a primary school as per the Ugandan educational policy. This project will allow mothers (particularly adolescent single mothers) to work or re-enroll back into school during the day while knowing that their children are safe and well cared for. The centre will be made open to all the community children at a small fee. At the centre, children will be nurtured and cared for, learn, and play in a funny lovely environment while their parents are day laborers – all children will be fed with nutritious meals, and then go back to their families in the evening.
Why invest in ECD service?
When the young children are left alone at home, they are not only vulnerable to many risks such as roaming/wondering in villages and on the streets, but also lack parental care and guidance. With the increased cases of child kidnap, trafficking and sacrifice, it is important to protect the children and ensure that they are well prepared to grow into healthy and responsible citizens. Through ECD services, the center will help in getting the children prepared and ready so that they can have access to the government schooling.
It will also improve the condition of young children by empowering mothers to become economically productive and less ignorant. When poor women are liberated from constant childcare and become involved in financial activities, the future of their children is safer, healthier, and more productive, and girl children are freed from their surrogate mother role in caring for younger siblings. The girl children will have time to go to school -when they attend school, they will marry late in life.
This centre will be an important psycho-pedagogical support area for high-risk young people and adults (orphans, single mothers, widows, PLWA, PWD, etc). It will be a safe haven providing an ample place to meet, play, learn and have fun as well as providing counseling to the vulnerable and traumatized people, many of whom would otherwise turn to a life of crime and become a strong detriment to the overall community.
The centre staff and various volunteers will engage the children in educational and recreational activities including graphic-pictorial representations, paper artwork, fabric artwork, painting/printing, and a music and craft workshop;- the art-therapy products will then be sold so that the proceeds help to cover the most urgent expenses of the center, while supporting education and healthcare for the OVCs.
In addition, it will be a hub of other community activities such as seminars and retreats for leaders, youth and other groups. Also, meetings will be organized for the elderly at the centre, to make them feel less alone and help them regain confidence in their abilities – while serving as local advisors and custodians of local knowledge.
As a recreational facility, the centre will be home for international volunteers, hence generating income for the programs. On the other hand, depending on the circumstance it may in addition serve as a non-residential rehabilitation facility (though may serve as a transitional care centre) with a fundamental commitment to enabling abused children and women to fully claim their rights.
Why invest in recreational service?
Through our work in Kasese District, we have seen that there is nearly complete absence of safer places for youth and women to meet, take classes and workshops in health and wellness. The centre will be one of its kind to be a place of socialization in the rural community, that also promote art-craft work as therapy intervention and sustainability strategy!
PARC currently has to rent the office and accommodation for its volunteers, so that much money has to be expended for the monthly payments. Hence, the organization wants to build the community centre so it will be used as offices and a guest house, to ensure long-term financial security. The centre will have guest quarters for volunteers, project visitors, and for tourists wanting to have a close-up experience of a Ugandan culture. All proceeds from the guest house will help to fund our community projects – meaning that, by staying at the guest house you are supporting PARC’s operations and contributing local development projects, which improve access to income generation, education and healthcare.
The poor lack access to low-interest micro-credit loans, because they lack asset to serve as collateral security. At PARC, we believe micro-credit is a key component of women’s empowerment. The village bank (PARC finance) provides an opportunity to community members to access small loans at a very low interest rate which they use to start or improve their small businesses. The project is works with both individuals and village groups, but must save with PARC (members are required to save a specified amount being percent of the loan applied for which are turned to constitute an additional pool of funds from which everyone accesses credit). The project also includes a reserve as emergence fund for members.
How it works?
PARC offers a holistic the micro-credit program that combines loan provisions with financial literacy, leadership and business training aimed at equipping women to manage successful businesses, as well as operate their own savings and internal lending community (SILC) groups – also known as village savings and lending association (VLSAs), where they can co-save and give loans to group members. At the end of the training, the women are guided in how to develop a business idea to be considered for a loan. A few loans are given out at time and as the women pay them back – based on their payment schedule, the money is recycled to provide a loan to another woman. Acting as a collateral substitute, this system keeps the women accountable to each other. As a result, the project empowers women to work together to create small businesses that are enabling them to provide for themselves and their families.
To also ensure security of SILC groups (VLSAs), we are encouraging them to mobile banking services (saving/ depositing, sending, and receiving money) through phone-based technology (mobilemoney).
In addition, we advise (facilitate) these groups to open bank accounts, whereby their mobile account (phone-based account) can be linked to their bank account such that they can create a financial profile with the bank. This can help them access loans from formal banks, enabling them to graduate from higher interest loans to low-interest insured loans.
Why give loans instead of grants?
We want to make sure that the donations create sustainable development. Entrepreneurship is an important way to create jobs and wellbeing in the developing communities. Small loans can create a surplus to invest in continuous growth, and a buffer to make families more resilient during time of crisis!. When the villager receives the loan and makes payments with interest, the capital pool (loan fund) grows and more people can access these loans.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D)
As a small, voluntary organization without any steady funding and income-stream, we are challenged working to achieve sustainability and independence from foreign financial aid. We are looking to take the matter in our own hands by running social ventures to generate our own resources, and at the same time bring improved income for the communities. But we lack skills, business know-how, resources and market knowledge to build and sustain success, hence achieve significant results. To bridge this, we seek a multi-approach partnership that will integrate support in planning and proper organization of the local initiative, assistance in creating tangible program, and providing technical support in implementation of program activities. This requires advancing in innovation and project out-sourcing.
How the R&D works?
PARC is currently seeking-out opportunities for partnering with universities, colleges, and third-party organizations to create a framework that will lead to competitive, quality and durable products that can subsidize over dependence on donors sustain our community-led projects. These partnerships will take the directions in product design, or marketing, and /or a combination.
Partnership with fair trade organizations:
As the quality of our social enterprise (jewelry, bags, baskets, visual prints, soap, reusable sanitary pads, etc) merchandise continues to rise, so does our opportunity within the international market. PARC will start to establish partnerships with third-party organizations (fair trade businesses and for-profit enterprise) to outsource merchandise on a contract basis (fair trade terms). These third party entities will design a product that is perfectly created by PARC’s talented women and children, with the third party entity providing the necessary training if required, to sell to international retailers. A fair trade price will be paid and / or a percentage of the profit per sale will then be donated back to PARC. A win-win business where PARC makes the product, the partner (third-party organizations and businesses) sell it, and we all gain!
Partnership with universities and colleges:
The university/college volunteers will help to improve and support organizational capacity and complement developments efforts through supporting leadership, offering mentoring and advice on an on-going basis, during development visits and through a planned programme of support, in addition to fundraising strategies. Ultimately, this partnership will result in a local organization that is more relevant to the challenges facing the community/region and, most importantly, a community with improved lifestyles achieved by community-driven innovation and growth, in addition to better trained and more relevant student graduates (volunteers).