Saturday, June 22, 2013

Karamoja: Day Five

DAY 5:
"According to the observations made by the Sweet Sleep staff during the 4 days while working with the indigenous partner organization together with the Community Development Centre team, the problem of poor sleeping conditions indeed exists among the children in the various families and boarding schools within Karamoja region.

Karamoja is characterized by generally low rainfall distribution, reliability and soil fertility. The region has only one rainy season and experiences cyclical droughts and erratic rainfall which have affected crop production and pasture for livestock hence having a direct negative effect on the live hood of the population. The region suffers from high levels of illiteracy, poverty, poor infrastructure and there are reported cases of malaria among children due to a lot of mosquitoes that were observed during the nights.

Given the above factors, many homesteads lack the capacity to provide beds and beddings for their children as a result of low economic activities within the region coupled with strong cultural ties.
Most of the various communities that Sweet Sleep reached during day 5 and within the previous days, it was observed that the kind of  huts “Manyatas” that serve as houses for the Karamojong are indeed very small when compared to those huts built in other parts of the Northern region like Gulu and are widely sparsely populated. In these huts, many of the children were found to be sleeping on dried animal skins without blankets and treated mosquito nets to cover themselves.

On the side of the existing Boarding schools in the region, the sleeping conditions among the children is not any better as they are greatly populated with many children sharing beds with small mattresses on them while others are sleeping down on mats which are also shared.

Among the schools that Sweet Sleep was able to reach are Kangole Boys, Kangole girls and Kapwachi Primary School all located in Napak District and Moroto Municipal Council primary school in Moroto district. These are all Government schools whereby the kinds of children within these schools are orphaned, neglected/abandoned, returnees or vulnerable. The children are either being supported by individuals or different Organizations such as the indigenous partner organization that help them by paying their school fees and meeting part of their scholastic materials.

In addition to the above schools, Sweet Sleep staff was also able to reach to one of the only orphanage home within this region called “Charity Sister’s Mission Home for the Poor”. The is home under the Catholic Nuns who are taking care of the 38 total orphans with good sleeping conditions and only lacked mosquito nets at the moment.

With the problem of poor sleeping conditions being at the extreme in most of the schools within the Karamoja region, UNICEF tried to provide some bunker beds, mattresses, blankets and bed sheets to only those schools that are organized and with good permanent structures within the region.

In spite of the efforts made by UNICEF, the problem of poor sleeping conditions is still very prevalent especially among the children in the local communities and in schools. The problem is further widened and contributed by the existence of the following challenges within Karamoja region:
  •     Highest levels of poverty among the people within the region that forces the local people to sell off any kind of material support that may be provided.
  •     High levels of illiteracy among the population of Karamoja region
  •     The strong culture beliefs existing among some sectors of the population in Karamoja region
  •     Lack of proper infrastructures like roads linking to various communities
  •     Hostility of some sectors of the population within the region whereby some tribes tend to be aggressive especially when their expectations are not highly satisfied. In other words, the hostile sectors of the population may sometimes ask for a lot of support.
  •     The rainy season usually causes a lot of floods hence making many roads almost impassable. 
Therefore, to address the problem of poor sleeping conditions and to expand its work in this region, Sweet Sleep has to so much establish a strong networking mechanism with other key stakeholders dealing with children focused programmes within the Karamoja region.
Among the key organizations that are operating within the Karamoja region and were approached by the Sweet Sleep staff in the light of establishing a possible working relationship were:
  •      Community Development Centre
  •    the partner organization
  •       Save the Children
  •      UNICEF
  •       Moroto Probation Office

For all the above mentioned organizations, they are in position to deliver the Sweet Sleep items from one storage point in Karamoja to the distribution centres."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Karamoja: Day Four

DAY 4:
"Inspired to be cuddled by children, I woke up very early in the morning ready to move with the education group after spending the previous day with the resettlement group with which I shared some intensive emotional moments.
That morning I was able to have a soda with a Chapati for breakfast as the rest of the team also enjoyed their breakfast with some tea and bread which I bought for the team.
Having had breakfast, we started to prepare all the children whom we were going to place in schools. The children were provided with scholastic materials, blankets, shoes, panties and boxes or metallic suit cases that were provided by the Community Development Centre to mention a few among others.

Returnees being helped and prepared by the team members to go to school where they were placed.

It was an exciting moment for the children as they received their school items from the education group and I was very happy too because of Sweet Sleep being part of this exercise. With so many children to fit in the only car that we had, it took us a while to load everything but somehow we finally managed to load everything.
Shortly after loading everything, we set off our journey to Kapwachi Primary school which is one of the Government schools within the Karamoja region.

                             Returnees leaving the Community Development Centre for school.
Kapwachi Primary School is both a Day and Boarding school that serves like an orphanage home/school in nature but with all children paying some school fees. The indigenous partner organization is responsible for paying the school fees of all the returnees that were enrolled and placed in that school under the partner organization's care. By the time of placing all the children in that school, the partner organization had already paid the school fees for all the 12 returnees that were placed in that school.
On arrival at the school, the old pupils were very excited to receive new children within their school and immediately the team started distributing the scholastic materials and other school related resettlement items to the returnees who had already been enrolled in this very school to attain formal education.

The already enrolled Returnees receiving their resettlement school packages for term one.

On the side of the sleeping condition at this school, some children do have beds though squeezed while others are sleeping down. Most of the children at this are really vulnerable and when I interacted with some of those sleeping down, they expressed to me that they are indeed fade up of sleeping down because ever since their child hood, they have always kept on sleeping down on the floor. They said that it feels good and great whenever a child sleeps on a bed of his or her own and sure they emphasized how jealousy they felt seeing other children sleeping on beds while them are sleeping down.
Sleeping conditions at Kapwachi Primary School

Some of the beds in the dorms
Through a quick count, 124 girls at this school don’t have beds though they do have some mattresses, bed sheets and blankets in a fair state. On the side of mosquito nets, those that I managed to see had holes in them and many of the children lacked mosquito nets. Otherwise, there is need for Sweet Sleep items at this school."

Join us tomorrow for the final day of Josephine's Journal