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Children's community resource centers

The idea is to set up resource centers for children from poor families in peri urban areas within Uganda, that their parents can also use. Several children are not availed the opportunity to see a classroom or develop their talents either because their parents cannot afford it or do not deem it important. This will be a free space for little children to learn, play and engage in activities with their age mates both for fun and learning. Additionally, there will be benefits to the guardians and the community at large. The community shall be greatly involved in the initial process and the running of these centers. They will provide labor and land initially. Additionally, they will participate in resource mobilization and management.

Photo of Esther Kalenzi
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At 16, Annette became a mother. Her daughter, Grace, is 3 but will not be joining any kindergarten or early learning centre any time soon. Maybe never. Like her mother, she will be lucky if she ever goes to any sort of school.
In Kisenyi, like many other slums around Kampala, education and healthy living are luxuries. Parents and guardians know that their children need to go to school but they cannot afford it. It is much worse if you are an orphan.

The one school in the slum barely has any teachers or scholastic material. It is a shell. Not to mention, the dangers like rape, drugs and crime which lurk in every corner of the slum, posing further threat to children like Grace, her playmates, James (5 years), Ronald (7 years) and the tens of others, mostly orphaned and abandoned, in the slum.

This situation is the same in most of the densely populated, peri-urban parts of Uganda. Children are born in harsh conditions, to young mothers who themselves have nothing. No knowledge or information on safe motherhood, no source of income to guarantee the safety of mother and child, no skills to provide a start point -- nothing to go on.
The worry is that there is every chance that this unfortunate cycle will not be broken if nothing is done, leading to more Annettes and Graces.

However, my team at 40 days over 40 smiles and I believe that by creating safe one-stop centers in the communities where the children and their parents or guardians can assemble to take part in or acquire the basics in recreation, education and health respectively.
A semi-formal curriculum which will incorporate visual aids, videos, games and handy work shall be used to stimulate the brains of the young ones while also ensuring they enjoy their childhood.

We will protect the children from the dangers they face; and empower parents, guardians and the communities to ensure that children enjoy a safe, energetic and dynamic and childhood.

Our plan is to create safe,stimulating Community Resource Centres in densely-populated peri-urban communities with need, where the children (orphaned and/or impoverished) can go and play, learn basics like reading and writing, receive basic health and sanitation care and amenities, harness skills and talents like dancing, drama, music and sports.
Through regular meetings with community leaders and parents, we shall have feedback which ables us to improve areas that need to be upgraded and maintain those that work.

We have experience working with vulnerable coomunities and understand that changing mindsets can take a while. It is for that exact reason that we are ready and willing to initiate this project and take the journey with these communites. By hearing out their needs and supporting them, we shall be able to ensure that they eventually learn how to solve issues within on their own
We envision a time when they will be able to run these centres on their own after they have received training. 40 days over 40 smiles will then play the role of networking and providing a link to new and existing partners.

We intend to use recycled material which is cost effective but also falls in line with our model hinged on creativity and innovation.

Meals shall be provided at the centers to ensure the children are eating right and staying healthy.

For the children who leave further away, a drop off point can be chosen so that a coaster can pick them up and drop them off at the end of the day.

Since, mothers and caretakers play the most important role in nurturing and ensuring the safety of children, especially in the early childhood stage, the centres will also provide basic educational space for the mothers to acquire essential knowledge about safe-motherhood, nutrition, health and sanitation, and hopefully, skills trainings -- all of which will contribute to the safety of children in their 0-5 years, in the poorest communities.
Part of our work will involve creating linkages and partnerships with already existing networks to implement and eventually, develop the capacity of the communities to take over these centres.

These partners will also play a role in providing avenues for further education through scholarships for children from impoverished backgrounds who hithertho would not have been given the opportunity.

Our networks

We are an organisation built on networks. We identify a community need, speak to the community on what the best soulution is, and then work with implementing partners, groups and individuals and the community to provide the solution. We have crowd-sourced our funding, skills and materials for all our projects in the past and are certain that old and new partners shall come on board.


Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The main beneficiaries will be children, mothers (guardians) and by extension, the communities where the centers will be built. Our organization is based in Kampala, Uganda, and I envision these centers, beautifully set-up, starting in the outskirts of the city especially the slum areas that are overcrowded and barely structured. Children from these communities will have a safe place where they can come in to play and to learn all sorts of lessons and basics of literacy, through specially tailored programs and activities. The mothers and guardians will also have one place of reference where they can come in for information ranging from health and sanitation, feeding, entrepreneurship or even to trade ideas and experiences. Consequently, the communities will benefit from having safer and healthier children and mothers/guardians and by having a starting point that encourages them contribute more to the protection and education of children.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Our previous work has involved bits of this idea although now, we seek a more structured and singular way of pursuing this dream. We have existing networks to tap into, especially for skills support towards piloting. We also propose to use recycled and local material for set up structures and play areas which will be cost effective and set precedent for our unique model. We would also leverage our other networks and specialist implementing organizations, groups and individuals to support these programs in the community centers. Skilled volunteers will take charge of the lessons and activities for the children. Through use of social media, we have managed to work with thousands of youth in Uganda to support community based projects for almost three years. We have ensured accountability and community involvement throughout this time, values we shall consistently implement with the resource centers. We shall also speak to community leaders of our target communities, interact with single parents and impoverished families from these communities. This shall aid us to gain better knowledge of needs and solutions. From this, we can ably come up with community generated solutions to the major underlying problems [in relation to children’s education and health] and how solutions to them can be integrated into the Community Center programs.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Feedback would be great for this project. I would also love to get expert advice for my team and I. Consequently, financial support would be needed to ably implement the idea. Ideas on how to ensure its quality control and growth are appreciated.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Musa Innis

This is a nice idea inn terms of practicality and clever motivation as it goes straight to the problem and ways to deal with it in terms of education systems.

However, i feel that you should work on the father as well as mother and children to help build a community and a stronger bondage in the family.

Social media is key these days and can be very effective so as you have a foot in the door already that is an amazing attribute, as well as the experience.
I hope to strive for better and achieve all the goals you which to achieve.

I also like the fact that you are trying to better yourself in the sense that you got so far last time and trying to get further in the future. Keep up the Good and Positive work!

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