Since its inception in 2006, Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC) has delivered healthcare services, education, microenterprise, social justice, leadership and empowerment programs to over 200,000 individuals—primarily women and children—in 76 rural communities in Central Uganda and Senegal.
In 2015, several of JLMC’s pioneer programs began graduating into self-sustainability and independence from the need for further financial assistance. After more than a decade of experience working with communities, JLMC came to understand that focusing on adolescent girls creates a unique opportunity to prevent new generations from ever entering the cycle of poverty and disease. As a result, JLMC developed the Girl Power Project® to equip girls with the tools, skills, and attitudes to stay in school and avoid early pregnancy and disease.
Today, JLMC’s graduated programs remain the building blocks of an essential foundation that enables girl’s empowerment to take hold within communities. Learn more about JLMC’s pioneer programs below.
DIRECT SERVICES PROVIDED
by Bishop Asili Hospital to patients since 2006
received critical medical services since 2006
now served by Bishop Asili Hospital, up from 55 in 2006
received critical health outreach services in 2015
JLMC began working in rural Uganda, East Africa, in 2006, with a small clinic called Bishop Asili Health Centre. At the time, the clinic had sporadic electricity and very few services for the 600,000 people it was serving in 50 local villages. For the past 10 years, JLMC developed a partnership with the clinic’s administrator to transform that small clinic into a Level 5 teaching hospital officially recognized by the Ugandan government’s Ministry of Health. Over the years, the improvements began to attract additional partners such as the Clinton Foundation, Mild May International, and Catholic Relief Services, exponentially multiplying the hospital’s reach and impact.
Now, a surgical facility staffed by highly-trained physicians is there for an expectant mother in any form of distress. An ultrasound machine is enabling doctors to diagnose quickly and allows a mother to see her healthy baby’s heart beat. A generator is keeping the lights on when the electricity goes out and ensures the hospital can keep blood and medicines safely stored at the right temperatures.
Today, Bishop Asili Hospital has a professional development program for staff and continues to provide lifesaving interventions for thousands of families in central Uganda’s Luwero District. The entire district has access to quality healthcare with medical and diagnostic equipment, an ambulance, and health outreach services for remote villages that include pre-natal care and HIV testing.
What’s in It for Girls? Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth in the developing world, and most of these deaths are preventable. Equipping a centrally located hospital with the right tools and resources mean that complications like severe bleeding and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure become treatable conditions, not death sentences. Healthy women and girls who are empowered with knowledge and control of their bodies are the cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous world.
Bishop Asili Hospital is now largely self-sufficient due to its capacity to expand services, resulting in increased revenue. In 2016, the hospital graduated beyond the need for major financial investments from Just Like My Child Foundation.
TOTAL LIVES IMPACTED*
*A result of the overall benefit to the community of having a school nearby
816 GIRLS | 717 BOYS | 39 TEACHERS
Lives directly impacted annually at 5 schools
in 5 communities
After working closely with families obtaining healthcare from Bishop Asili Hospital, JLMC developed relationships with parents who were deeply committed to their children’s education. Local schools were dilapidated, lacked resources, and in some communities they were non-existent. As a result, Just Like My Child Foundation began a partnership with five local communities and the Ugandan Ministry of Education in 2008 to ensure that children in the Luwero district have full access to primary schooling.
In each school building project, JLMC co-invested alongside communities in all aspects of the process. A covenant was signed and outlined how a community would make investments in their school—like gathering building materials, making bricks, and creating an income-generating activity that would benefit the school, for example. As a result of their co-investment, parents were dedicated to ensuring that their school became a sustainable learning institution where happy and qualified educators would have the training and resources necessary to keep their children engaged, successful, and safe.
A total of five school buildings have been built, including 24 classrooms, one dormitory, 15 teachers houses, five water tanks, 48 toilets, and five lightning rods. The schools have also been equipped with desks, culturally relevant textbooks, and quality classroom learning materials. In addition, teachers and school administrators have sharpened their skills in annual workshops and students participate in extracurricular activities that include music, dance, drama, and debate. In addition, all five schools have participated in JLMC’s Girl Power Project®, equipping hundreds of girls with the assets to stay in school and avoid child marriage, disease, and early pregnancy.
As a result, nearly 1,500 children a year are attending safe schools equipped with the tools to support quality education. Each school has created their own community-based businesses that enable school administrators and teachers to fund the development of their learning institutions. Communities actively own their schools, direct the quality of education, and manage maintenance costs.
What’s in It for Girls? It was in these schools that JLMC witnessed first-hand the dynamics at play for girls in primary school, including safety issues traveling to school, menstrual hygiene, and vulnerability within the classroom. Today, as the Girl Power Project® continues to grow and expand to other schools, teachers and parents continue to provide testimony, advocacy, and training to support girls’ empowerment in these five communities.
In 2015, all five schools began reaching self-sufficiency as a result of the co-investments that have been made in the sustainability of the infrastructure, the health and safety of the students, and the quality of education. Parents, teachers and community members have mastered the skills to operate their schools, direct the quality of education, and manage maintenance costs. Today, each school is managed solely by the community they belong to, without the need for further outside investment.
TOTAL LIVES IMPACTED
While JLMC initially addressed maternal and child health issues by strengthening access to healthcare (including HIV+ treatment enabled by a partnership with Bishop Asili Hospital, the Clinton Foundation, and Mild May), we quickly discovered that poverty was the primary barrier for families to sustain themselves and keep their kids in school. HIV+ patients receiving treatment at Bishop Asili Hospital were in need of better nutrition and a reliable source of income for their families.
At the request of the Bishop Asili Hospital’s HIV+ community, JLMC created a microenterprise program in partnership with Heifer International Uganda, an organization that works with impoverished communities all over the world to strengthen local economies through livestock animal loans. A dairy goat loan provides food with added nutritional value and a reliable source of income, as milk and goat offspring can be traded or sold at market. This loan helps families achieve self-reliance by providing the tools they need to sustain themselves. When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings economic opportunities for the whole community.
Before accepting the gift of a goat, families are trained in the steps to establish a pasture, farm planning, gardening, energy-saving cookstoves, soil and water conservation, food security, forage management, nutrition and feeding, livestock shed construction, dairy goat management, and veterinary care. Afterward, families must share the training they receive and pass on the first female offspring of their goats to another family in need. Doing so extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once-impoverished family to become donors who participate in improving their communities.
What’s in It for Girls? Sustainable income generation has been an essential building block for the success of the Girl Power Project® in the communities JLMC serves in Uganda. When families are able to generate income, dignity is restored and families take great pride in being able to send all of their children to school—including girls. A healthy economy provides much greater security for a girl since she is not seen as a form of economic survival for a family.
This program graduated into sustainability in 2016, reaching a total of 630 families or 3,000 individuals. Going forward, the program will be maintained by Bishop Asili Hospital without the need for further investments from JLMC. This program aims to empower thousands more families over the next five years through the model of passing on the gift.
Even with improved access to healthcare, education, and opportunities for families to generate income, JLMC began to witness the real issues that girls face when living in poverty. JLMC continued to see the same issues over and over again: girls dropping out of school early, cases of sexual assault, girls becoming pregnant, and domestic violence victims returning home to live with their perpetrators after treatment for their injuries. These issues make adolescence a vulnerable juncture for girls living in poverty.
JLMC quickly realized that investments had to extend beyond the walls of a hospital or school, and out into the community where harmful cultural norms prevent girls from reaching their potential. As a result, JLMC developed the Girl Power Project®to shift expectations, create a community-based network of support for girls, and equip them with assets they can use to navigate adolescence successfully.