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Life Skills Camp for Girls During School Holiday Breaks

A series of structured life-skills camps held during school holiday breaks in Uganda that help girls avoid exploitation, build self-confidence, and explore their dreams for the future. [Summary by the Amplify Team]

Photo of Beatrice Achieng Nas
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Provide a short description of your idea

My idea is a holiday outreach program for 170 girls; 120 girls from the slum community of Namwongo and 50 girls from the rural Tororo and Buteleja districts. It tackles the problem of lost opportunity among young Ugandan women due to poverty, lack of peer support, early marriage, and dangerous relationships - a problem that is highlighted during girls’ holiday breaks from school, when they face enticing offers from “sugar daddies” or drug-abusing peers and minimal support for their educational goals. It addresses the problem by providing girls with structured enrichment and a sense of community during holiday breaks, training them to brainstorm and implement solutions to community problems, assisting them in naming and pursuing their dreams, and reducing exposure to unsafe influences and temptations to leave school. ***** The girls of Uganda’s slums and rural areas have one thing in common: they live in impoverished environments. Namuwongo slums in Bukasa, Makindye Division, Kampala are characterized by water pollution, drug abuse, rape, and poor living conditions. Likewise, villages in Tororo and Buteleja are crippled by HIV impact, lack of running water or electricity, domestic violence, and child abuse. Many girls enter early marriages or make risky choices because their prospects seem bleak. Timely intervention can make a difference for them in these communities. My idea is to organize joint holiday outreaches for these girls to help them work toward their dreams, create community solutions, protective friendships and reduce temptation of unsafe choices.

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Show us what implementation might look like.

Check out our scanned copy of our implementation outline named "Timeframe.jpg" in the visual gallery
In my neighborhood there is a slum called "Soweto" in Namuwongo, Bukasa Parish, Makindye Division , Kampala - Uganda. It is divided into 7 zones namely:
1. Industrial Area View
2. Go-Down
3. Kasanvu
4. Namuwongo B
5. Namuwongo A
6. Kanyogoga/Masengere
7. Yoweri Kaguta (YOKA).
These zones have over 20,000 people that are living in very confined spaces, averaging 2 rooms for a family of at least 4 -8 members.  Many of these slum residents migrated from the rural areas in hopes of attaining a better life, but only found increased hardship and extremely deplorable living conditions. 

Reaching out to these girls through Holiday Outreach programs such as mentoring workshops, academic seminars, life skills and leadership training, communication skills, entrepreneurship, talent promotion, and community activities would not only help them avoid temptations and dangerous situations, but would also help them identify their personal dreams and goals, develop support networks, and create solutions to problems in their communities.

The questions I would have for the community (especially to each of the girls) would include:
 
1. What is your vision for your community? 
2. What do you like about your community? 
3. What don't you like about your community? 
4. What would you hope to achieve through the Holiday Outreach programs, and how would developing a connection to girls living in similar situations in rural/urban areas be of benefit?
5. What support do you receive from the local leadership and or the government? 
 
I did further research to determine how such a program would be received, both in the slums and in poor rural communities. Here is what one family had to say:
 
Francis Kaweesa, a father of 5 girls and 3 boys and a resident of Go-down, agrees with the idea of training the girls during the holidays.  He stated that he always worries about his daughters during holidays because there are so many temptations to make life-altering decisions.  He feels that the Holiday Outreach program would help girls be more knowledgeable about risks and better able to make wise life decisions.  His wife, Rachel, agreed, saying that the program would save the girls from bad behavior and help them avoid bad peer groups. 
 
One of their daughters, Pamela, age 16, said that she is not happy living in the slum.  "I just have no choice of where to go because my parents brought us up here. When I grow up and become independent, I'd rather live in the village than a slum, and I will never introduce my children to the slum because it is not safe for children at all,” she said.  "Acquiring skills and networking with girls living in the villages is a good idea. It will help us connect with the rural girls, make new friends, and build solutions together."
 
Here are Pamela's responses to my five questions:
 
1.   Her vision for her community is to create associations where the girls come together and start small projects such as making crafts to generate their own income,  She also feels they could team up to promote hygiene in their community. 
 
2.  She likes the availability of cheap things in their community.
 
3.  She does not like the congestion and pollution in her community.
 
4.  She will make new friends from the rural communities, and will also get new ideas from them so that they can work out solutions for their communities together.
 
5.  She says that the local leadership mainly comes in for security reasons, such as when there is a criminal offense.
 
In the just concluded Open Circle (http://www.open-circle.org) Life Skills training conducted with 32 rural youths [27 girls and 5 boys] from Tororo district, we realized that most youths need additional training to help them find solutions to issues in their personal lives, as well as their communities.  Training can also help them clarify their dreams and identify realistic methods of achieving them.
 
At the end of the training period, we asked the participants what additional topics they would like to see in future training sessions. Their responses included academic seminars, and classes on HIV, friendship, talent promotion, behavior/character building, early pregnancy and early marriages, the role of youth in community development, practical science skills, self-awareness, communication skills, how to become successful, leadership, how to fight poverty, and more.  They would also like to share experiences with others, and learn about and from other communities.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

I want to launch a holiday outreach program that will help lift young Ugandan women out of dangerous situations and empower them to connect, grow, learn, and create sustainable solutions in their communities.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

The immediate need is for safety. The girls of Soweto, Tororo, and Buteleja face dangerous conditions when they are unsupervised at home during school holidays, including physical dangers (such as rape, disease, early pregnancy, drug abuse) and personal dangers (like the temptation to abandon education in favor of a relationship with a “sugar daddy”). On a broader level, young women in Uganda’s poorest areas need opportunities for empowerment and advancement, and connections with peers working on similar goals. Their communities need young women who are prepared to make a difference.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The project would have a direct impact on 120 girls living in the slum of Soweto and 50 girls from various villages in the rural communities of Tororo and Buteleja, the latter of which are currently receiving academic support through the Rural Girl Child Mentorship Project (http://pce-foundation.org/rgcm-project). Empowered, educated women tend to bring positive social and economic changes to their communities, so while the immediate benefit of the project would be to its 300 participants, it would have long-lasting positive implications that extend well beyond individual girls (for example the girls would help in identifying and supporting other girls within there communities who dropped out of school, those suffering with the effect drugs, or are in abusive situations who would be helped out of these situations, would also lead to future partnership with similar Organizations that support boys and men). We will monitor the program’s success by routinely interviewing the beneficiaries and conducting “before and after” assessments in areas such as persistence in school, goal achievement, early marriage and pregnancy rates, and/or self-rated levels of confidence. We will also progressively evaluate the content of our programming via consultation with experts, trainers, and mentors. Eventually, the alumni girls of the Holiday Outreach Program will be recruited as trainers when they become older and have gained personal experience with the program.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

If given required resources and funding, my organization - the Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation (PCE Foundation) - would be best equipped to implement this idea with support and partnership with individuals and organizations who have expertise in youth education, facilitation and mentorship, both locally and internationally. We have already established many of these connections.

Where should this idea be implemented?

1. The Soweto slums in Namuwongo, Bukasa Parish, Makindye Division , Kampala - Uganda. Soweto is divided into seven zones, all of which would be served by our project: Industrial Area View, Go-Down, Kasanvu, Namuwongo A, Namuwongo, B, Kanyogoga/Masengere, and Yoweri Kaguta (YOKA). 2. The sub-counties and rural communities of the Tororo and Buteleja Districts in Eastern Uganda (Iyolwa, Kirewa, Kisoko, Mulanda, Paya, and Rubongi). 3. Most of the training will be carried out in hired venues such as hotels/conference rooms within Kampala, as well as Tororo town. The community activities will be carried out within the above listed communities.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

1. First we will convene a meeting with the local leaders in Soweto community and the sub-county chiefs of Buteleja, Iyolwa, Kirewa, Kisoko, Mulanda, Paya, and Rubongi, highlighting to them our intentions and areas of interest while seeking their views and support. 2. If the response is positive (and we are confident that it will be), we will identify twenty to thirty girls between the ages of 12 and 22 from each setting, share our idea with them, and seek their opinions. We will work with these girls, their parents, and community leaders to establish contacts with additional girls in both the slum and the rural villages. We will also use my NGO’s active network to begin to recruit trainers/mentors. We have already had success recruiting leaders for workshops and peer-to-peer mentorship experiences for the girls served by our organization, and we are confident that we will be able to recruit talented leaders for our initial workshop and the Holiday Outreach program. 3. We will conduct a 5-day prototype workshop in an appropriate setting outside of the girls’ communities, inviting pre-identified trainers and mentors to participate in the event. Afterward we will solicit feedback from the girls, their families, and the trainers. The purpose of this workshop will be to connect with the girls, evaluate interest and potential benefits, and solidify the optimal format and content of our outreach program. With the help of our initial list from the Open Circle training in Tororo and the feedback of the girls in the prototype workshop, we will select three training topics and one community activity for each of the school year’s three holidays. At least two months before the holidays begin, we will share these topics on our website and social media feeds, and volunteers in our network will have the opportunity to participate as trainers or mentors.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Check out our experience map in the visual gallery. In general; during School breaks, the Holiday Mentoring Outreach Program work with 170 girls from the slums of Bukasa, Kampala and the rural communities of Tororo and Buteleja districts of Uganda. These girls will be grouped by age groups; 12 -15, 16 – 18 and 19 – 22 in groups of 100 for each training/mentoring session and age group. Each group will be sub divided into two groups (56 each) in separate rooms during the trainings/mentoring sessions but offered the same content. Each of these trainings will last for 7 days. This is how the one week program will run; one day of traveling to the venue, two days of training/mentoring, one day of traveling closer/into to the given project community, settling and drawing plans and assigning activities for the project, two days of community projects and the last day for evaluation, certificates issued to each of the participants and then girls travel back to their homes. The girls will receive mentorship from supportive adults and each other, gain new skills and confidence, engage in cultural exchanges, make new friends, and develop new solutions for their communities. Holiday outreach will also offer protection against some of the serious dangers of holiday breaks in impoverished areas, including bad influences from peers, drug abuse, early pregnancy or marriage, and temptation to abandon educational goals.

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea have the potential to impact the lives of low-income women and girls living in urban areas?

Yes, the idea clearly targets low-income women and girls living in urban areas. - 66.7%

The idea targets women and girls but isn’t necessarily focused on those living in low-income urban areas. - 33.3%

The idea targets people living in low-income urban areas but doesn’t seem to benefit women and girls specifically. - 0%

2. Does this idea describe a set of next steps and a timeline to accomplish them?

The idea clearly outlines next steps, the resources and team needed to execute them and a timeline to accomplish this. - 100%

The idea gives a broad explanation of what it hopes to accomplish but there is no clear timeline or activities to reach its desired goal. - 0%

The idea has not clearly articulated what the next steps are. - 0%

3. How feasible would it be to implement a pilot of this idea in the next 12-18 months?

Very feasible – the next steps described in the contribution seem achievable in this time period. - 66.7%

A pilot appears feasible but more work needs to be done to figure out how it would be executed. - 33.3%

The idea is not ready to be piloted yet – the concept needs several more months of user feedback and prototyping to be ready for a pilot. - 0%

4. Does this idea bring a new and fresh approach to the city or region in which it’s set?

Yes, this idea appears to be new and innovative! I’m not aware of other ideas in this city or region that address this need using a similar approach. - 66.7%

There are other initiatives doing similar work in this area – but this idea targets a new group or has an updated approach. - 33.3%

I can think of many initiatives addressing the same need using a similar approach in the same region. - 0%

5. How scalable is this idea across regions and cultures?

This is an idea that could help women and girls in many different cities. I can see it being implemented across multiple regions and cultures. - 33.3%

Maybe but I’d imagine it would need very significant changes. - 66.7%

The idea is really only suited for one specific region / population. - 0%

6. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

I love this idea! - 100%

I liked it but preferred others. - 0%

It didn't get me so excited. - 0%

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Hello Nas... It is a good idea, what type of skills people will be taught , can you please give an example ? Thanks

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