Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Let’s get started improving the lives of marginalised and vulnerable Children

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The Promota’s Beauty & Arts Editor Clare Eluka meets Anisha Rajapakse, the Project and Partnership Manager at Ka Tutandike Trust UK and discusses the work of a dynamic Ugandan NGO that punches way above its weight responding to the needs of vulnerable people.

CE: Ka Tutandike (KTU) means Let’s Get Started. When did the organisation form?

AR: It was set up in 2006.

CE: Who founded the organisation?

AR: The founder is Patricia Brenninkmeyer who has close ties with Uganda and has been working there since 1964. A career in social work and a long association with Uganda led Patricia to start this charity which was her second one. Firstly in 1981 she founded the Kulika Charitable Trust (now Kulika Uganda). Kulika Uganda which became independent of Kulika UK in 2004 is now working with around 2000 farmers in Uganda. In 2006 Patricia founded Ka Tutandike, which means Let’s Get Started in Luganda. Patricia felt that the best way to get started and to ensure long term continuity and ownership is to put the future of the charity in Ugandan hands.

CE: What is your role at Ka Tutandike Trust UK?

AR: My role from the UK-based office is to support the work and long-term sustainability of Ka Tutandike Uganda (KTU) by working closely with the Ugandan colleagues on areas such as fundraising, communications and project management with a view to seeing our registered partners in Uganda fully take over the operations and function independently by 2013.

CE: What are the main areas of humanitarian assistance that KTU provides in Uganda?

AR: We focus on the rights of children – their right to early childhood care and development, their right to literacy and the freedom to read for pleasure, and protecting disabled (Deaf) children by facilitating their education and awareness on sexual and reproductive health issues and their rights. The team at Ka Tutandike is deeply committed to improving the lives of marginalised and vulnerable people and communities. They work with different stakeholders as well as Government agencies, international and national donors as well as the Private Sector. The success and real impact of our work is best seen and heard from the grassroots itself where children and communities can tell you better than I can about the difference our initiatives have made in enabling them to have better and happier lives. We have measures in place to check that our work is regularly evaluated and monitored to make sure that the funds actually benefit the people on the ground and achieve set goals.

CE: You worked previously for the Commonwealth. How did you make the transition to Ka Tutandike?

AR: I was with the Commonwealth Foundation for 4 years as its head of the Human Development Programme and responsible for work with NGOs in developing Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions. The main areas I worked on were HIV/AIDS, Disability, Youth, Education, Gender, Health and Climate Change and Disaster mitigation. It was hugely inspiring and rewarding in terms of having the privilege of working with some very dynamic NGOs serving some of the most vulnerable people and communities. Uganda was one of the countries I had visited previously and had already established several professional and personal connections. My approach had a very strong ‘rights-based’ focus and this was the aspect that I loved the most. Protecting the rights of vulnerable people was the area that had the perfect synergy and greatest fit with the role at Ka Tutandike and was thereby the ideal transition for me. I have already visited several of Ka Tutandike’s projects in Uganda and was very impressed and inspired by the level of passion and energy of the CEO and her team. It was wonderful to see and hear from the beneficiaries themselves including primary school children, their teachers and Deaf young people about how their lives have improved immensely together with their own confidence levels. I am now able to channel my experience and skills into the work of Ka Tutandike towards protecting the rights of vulnerable communities in Uganda and help ensure that the impact will be long term and sustaining.

CE: What is next for KTU and what can we expect for 2011?

AR: 2011 will see Ka Tutandike building on the lessons learnt to date as well as expanding its scope and reach so that our work can benefit even more people on the ground. Our team in Uganda believe very strongly in working in partnership and collaboration with others, and will be looking to have greater collaboration and partnership with Government, working even more closely with other partner NGOs and the private sector. The Chief Executive Officer of Ka Tutandike Uganda is Christine Semambo-Sempebwa. Christine and her team will be channelling their energies towards being active participants in the processes that bring about effective policy changes that will protect the rights of people that we serve.

Based on the feedback from the people on the ground we will aim to implement a programmatic structure with tangible link between all of the projects so there is more of a connection with cross- programmatic work and creating cross fertilisation between the projects.

CE:Tell the Promota Readers about a success story from KTU?

AR: One of our key projects that we implement in Uganda works closely with Deaf young people and communities. The Deaf in Uganda are an extremely neglected group and increasingly subjected to ridicule, physical and emotional violence including sexual abuse and rape, often resulting in being infected with HIV/AIDS. Deaf children are excluded from access to vital information that will protect them from the indignities they face on a regular basis as they have no means of communicating or learning sign language with others in order to make them understood and learn from others. KTU has stepped in to address this huge gap by starting a three year project to sensitize Deaf children on Reproductive Health.

We have initially targeted about 500 Deaf children by teaching them sign language, as well as having the training provided for parents, health workers and teachers and other members of the community. We are also focusing closely on teaching Deaf children about protecting themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases which is very challenging as the teachers need to be taught sign language and relay the sexual education to the youth. Since we began the project orientation, the teachers have been teaching with creative learning aids that the KTU provided that have proven to be very effective in conveying sensitive information about reproductive health and bring the information to life.

Nalusiba Aisha is 14 and is the head girl at Masaka School for Special Needs. Since the KTU project commenced in 2009, she has learnt a lot about sexual and reproductive health and has become a peer educator at weekends conducting her own assemblies with girls:

“I enjoyed the sessions on reproductive health and it has taught me so much about how to look after my body, how to wash myself properly and to be smarter. We’ve learnt a lot about HIV / Aids prevention and I enjoy sharing what I have learnt with others. The course has widened my general awareness and I’ve learnt the importance of staying at school rather than at home and how we can learn a lot about ourselves here. I’ve noticed a change among my peers since the training. We were not responding to our elders, but know that is changing through our learning and peer learning.”

A teacher, Sarah Nakauye added that:

“We have been using many of the initiatives taught at the orientation, such as songs, poems and acting to get across the messages on sexual and reproductive health. The fun, yet important classes, have helped the children become more self-aware about their bodies, particularly during puberty. Children have opened up to teachers if they are concerned about anything to do with their bodies – whereas in the past they would have remained silent and scared about natural changes. They have become more confident about coming to us (teachers) to ask questions.”

CE: How can everyday people get involved with the work of KTU?

AR: There are many ways by which people can get involved. There is volunteering, by which those interested can arrange with KTU to assist in the day-to-day work of the project. For example, in the project in which we promote ‘reading for pleasure’ for primary school children, people could contact us if they are able to give some of their time reading stories to the kids. Ugandans who live in the UK can go back and volunteer some holiday time to give back to their communities. Donating story books, colouring pens and crayons would also be great.

Alternately, by going on to our website people can make a financial donation that will directly support our projects (www.katutandike. org) and will be hugely appreciated. In the UK, we recently set up a ‘Friends of Ka Tutandike’ group that brings together both The Ugandan Diaspora in the UK, as well as others with an interest in Uganda and our work. These members aim to assist the work of Ka Tutandike by giving us their valuable time, ideas and other means of support to increase our fundraising efforts, and raise the profile of Ka Tutandike both in Uganda and in the UK.

CE: What would your ideal situation be for Ka Tutandike by 2015?

AR: For Ka Tutandike Uganda to have evolved to be a completely independent and proactive NGO with total ownership and financial sustainability measures in place to take it on to the next decade with confidence.

For more information on Ka Tundike Uganda and
Ka Tutandike Trust UK, please contact: Christine Semambo-Sempebwa (Ka Tutandike Uganda) – xtinesemambo@yahoo.co.uk

Anisha Rajapakse (Ka Tutandike Trust UK)

info@katutandike.org.uk

Website: www.katutandike.org

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