Project: Innovative Agriculture and Micro Credit Programs for families of AIDS Orphans
Project Partners: Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO) http://kihefo.org/
Funding Partners: Community Initiative Program (AB Gov’t)
Working with the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO), in the Kibale district of Uganda, Change for Children is working on a number strategies to improve the situation for orphans of the AIDS epidemic including:
counseling services for orphans and their extended families;
clinical services to HIV+ children;
nutritional support through training in diversified agriculture; income support for families through training in sustainable agricultural practices and improved agricultural technology;
micro-finance programs to encourage diversified income generation in agriculture.
This project has successfully expanded its reach in micro-credit initiatives to 73 families who have taken in orphans of AIDS. These families are also receiving nutrition counselling as well as ARV treatments for HIV positive children.
A representative of Change for Children visited the project in March 2010 and these were his brief observations:
I spent three days visiting with KIHEFO stakeholders including: KIHEFO’s director, members of its field staff, its office manager, several of its volunteers, and dozens of its community group members. I also spent four additional days in the communities where KIHEFO operates asking community members who were not directly connected to KIHEFO about the organization. Here are a few of my observations:
1. Organizational Health – I found the overall health of KIHEFO to be very strong. Dr. Anguyo is a competent, hard-working, and well respected leader who has mobilized a large number of people to undertake KIHEFO’s activities with great commitment and passion. In terms of the organization, I was especially impressed with:
a. General Meetings – I attended part of a general meeting where decisions were made by a wide group of well informed stakeholders. I found staff members being held accountable for their activities by community members and recipients of KIHEFO services, and decisions being made with lively and respectful participation by many stakeholders. The meeting was attended by roughly thirty people
b. Volunteers – KIHEFO has an amazing ability to recruit and retain qualified volunteers to conduct much of its work. Ugandan culture does not seem to support volunteerism the way many western cultures do, which makes this accomplishment all the more impressive. I spent time touring communities with several volunteers who were deeply committed to their work and were highly qualified and well prepared. Dr. Anguyo has also recruited many international volunteers to support his work. While I was visiting, two European doctors were assisting with providing care in Dr. Anguyo’s clinic.
c. Community Support – KIHEFO has a large grass-roots support base which includes hundreds of families who belong to one of KIHEFO’s many community groups.
2. KIHEFO’s Work – I found the quality of the work that KIHEFO was undertaking to be of especially high quality. I was primarily interested in KIHEFO’s micro-finance project, but was also impressed by several other areas of their activities. Key observations include:
a. Project Implementation – KIHEFO has done an excellent job preparing recipients of its micro-finance program. Those requesting funds must work with a KIHEFO representative to fill in an application form, and must be part of a community group that will support the applicant and hold him/her accountable for the use of the funds and the repayment of capital (usually in non-monetary forms). Successful applicants must demonstrate competence in the proposed use of the funds, and can receive specialized training with the help of KIHEFO. Further, users of the micro-finance program are instructed in community building, household healthcare, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS. This rigorous path toward receiving funds ensures that only those who are committed to the program have access, and that they are fully educated on how best to use the funds. I met with several people who were at various stages in the preparation process, and they took great pride in their business ideas, and in their new knowledge. They were confident and well supported and committed to the overall goals of the program.
b. Sustainability – KIHEFO has instructed its community groups in many constructive ways. One of the most important ways has been in self-sufficiency. Each group is instructed to collect small amounts of money from its members on a regular basis and use that money as a lending pool for members. One of the groups I visited had already saved over $150 – an impressive sum for rural Uganda. The groups use the money to lend to individual members, or to undertake group activities. Another group I met with had leased a 9 acre tract of land and was planting cabbage as a cash crop. KIHEFO has taught communities to be accountable for: raising their own funds; and for using them responsibly – with the hope that international funding (CFCA’s included) will augment this process.