Luganda is Uganda's largest language. Those who speak the language are called Baganda. The country of Uganda is named after this ethnic group of 5.5 million.
Many young people and adults lack basic skills in reading and writing and arithmetic. This leads to exclusion and vulnerability. They are easily deceived, they are discriminated against, they lack knowledge of their rights. They can not control their own finances or calculate prices.
Many young people from the countryside move to the big cities of Kampala and Entebbe in the hope of finding a livelihood. Entrepreneurship and the drive to succeed is great. But without education, it is difficult to cross the poverty line. Young boys drive motorcycle taxis, girls work as domestic help. If you manage to raise a small initial capital, you can buy goods and sell. Some find no job, and are ashamed to return to their home village. It can be the gateway to crime, prostitution and misery.
The partner organization
The local organization CACI (Change African Child International) works in the big cities Kampala and Entebbe. They already have a job among young unemployed people with education in crafts, entrepreneurship and social initiatives. The participants are thus offered other activities which in combination with the new knowledge in reading, writing and math can lead to a livelihood.
Since the start in 2013, the program has become increasingly established. The courses are in demand throughout the area. The proportion who drop out without completing the course is very low, below 15% (In most similar programs it is 50% or more). Over the years, more than 100 study groups have been conducted with about 2,200 participants.
During the years 2013-2016, ALEF prepared a series of three courses and textbooks on luganda together with the project team.
In year 1, you learn basic reading and writing in luganda and practice reading texts you create yourself. You talk about common everyday challenges and make decisions about how to handle them.
Year 2 focuses on how to use the four arithmetic methods in everyday life, while continuing with reading and writing. This year also introduces light conversations in English.
In the 3rd year, you read longer texts. Human rights are discussed based on the local situation. The groups learn how to start and run an economic association together. They also learn to read and write in English, and to interpret various documents in English that they encounter in everyday life, e.g. bills, school grades and signs.
During the period May-October, the groups meet twice a week. They meet in rooms that they arrange themselves, sometimes under a tree, sometimes in a backyard or in someone's living room. The group leaders come from the same area as the participants, and receive a two-week training in the method. A coach visits each group regularly.
Since the project started in 2013, we have seen fantastic results. Individuals and groups begin to change their lives, gain new hope, take control of their finances and start income-generating activities. They start working together in groups and assert their basic human rights. They stand up against abuse of power and corruption.
Striking in the project in Uganda is that so many groups and individuals have started different companies. Here is a selection of the many small businesses that have grown up thanks to the project:
Some women started a fishing cooperative, and bought several fishing boats. They dried the fish and sold it in tons to buyers.
Another group started a bakery and egg production. They sell bread and eggs to local schools.
A carpenter was able to start a savings cooperative for several carpentries, which meant that he received working capital and could expand and invest in the business.
Some young people started a dance troupe that performs at parties and weddings for a fee.
A woman buys fish that she fry and sells in the market. She makes all payments and orders on her mobile.
Another important effect of the project is that the participants' children get a better education. Mothers realize that girls also need to go to school. Thanks to improved finances, they can afford to pay school fees and buy textbooks for their children. Thanks to knowledge of English, they can read and understand the children's school grades and the first school years they can help their children with homework.
In the autumn of 2017, two students from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg each evaluated ALEF's project in collaboration with CACI in Uganda. Here you can download the reports.
In 2020, CACI planned to conduct 54 study groups with just over 1,100 participants. They had just started training group leaders when restrictions on freedom of movement were introduced due to the corona pandemic. Many lost all opportunities for income, and the famine spread rapidly. Food was then distributed to the needy in the organization's network thanks to money that ALEF was able to collect.
Only in July-August did all 54 study groups start. CACI now reports that the prices are even better than usual. During the closure, participants read the textbooks with their children who were home from school. They discussed what they could do, and many families started small projects, e.g. to grow vegetables in plastic bowls and sacks. When year one started, the mothers began to help the children learn the letters. Both children and parents learn better, and get closer to each other.
Year 3 started first, and will end in December 2020. In January 2021, year 2 will end, and year 1 will continue until mid-February.
Since the groups started late, and in order to be able to follow the authorities' requirements for small groups and mouth guards, hand washing, etc., the cost for this year's groups will be higher than calculated. We need to collect an additional SEK 85,000 to cover the entire cost.