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 96 rural communities in Central Uganda.
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
have 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
Nearly 50% of girls in central Uganda are unable to continue their secondary education (grades 7-12) due to the circumstances they face when living in extreme poverty, preventing them from reaching their potential.
Because JLMC works with so many school-aged girls (ages 12-15), the organization is able to identify some of the best and the brightest students. Some girls have even scored in the 99th percentile in the country’s standardized testing but as they prepare to enter high school, they are forced to drop out because of lack of funds.
The Mandela Project is a sponsorship program that eliminates the financial barrier for qualified students to pursue higher and professional education. It ensures high-performing yet vulnerable students receive a high quality education as well as mentoring and career planning.
JLMC requires a co-investment from sponsored girls and their parents, which include regularly scheduled meetings to ensure each student’s success in school. In addition, the girls share their report cards, as well as any struggles they may be experiencing, with JLMC mentors who are also dedicated to their success.
The sponsorships include supporting each student through her secondary education up to five years (school fees, supplies, transportation to and from school, and medical expenses and healthcare that keep students healthy).
What’s in it for girls? By sowing individual seeds of leadership, our sponsorship recipients are given the opportunity to reach their potential. The positive impact of an educated and empowered girl has been found to spread deep into their communities.
The Mandela Project is now an essential component of the Girl Power Project® program, providing exceptionally bright, yet extremely vulnerable girls with an opportunity to achieve their full potential.
TOTAL LIVES IMPACTED*
*A result of the overall benefit to the community of having a school nearby
816 GIRLS | 717 BOYS | 39 TEACHERS
directly impacted annually at five schools
in five 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. (Read the story of Beau’s School!)
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.
LIVES DIRECTLY IMPACTED
4,867 girls, 2,988 boys and 5,468 teachers and parents
since the program’s inception
with a total of 2,452 Afripads distributed
She is at risk for dropping out of school early, sexual violence, forced child marriage, early pregnancy, complications during childbirth, and contracting HIV/AIDS. If she survives, she will raiser her children in poverty and they, too, will face the same obstacles.
Specifically, in central Uganda, there are an estimated one million adolescent girls, ages 10-19 years, 90% of whom experience vulnerabilities on multiple levels. Nationally, the mean number of years girls attend school is 4.5 (the mean for boys is only two years higher at 6.8), and nearly 50% of girls will drop or be pulled out of school by parents/guardians by age 15. An estimated 40%-50% of all Ugandan women marry before age 18, and an estimated 15% marry by age 15. In rural areas, such as the communities found in central Uganda, girls are married earlier and, on average, have three more children than their urban counterparts.
And yet, girls have the potential to move themselves and their families into a healthier, more secure life. When a girl has seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (Center for Global Development 2009)
A girl who completes basic education is 3x less likely to contract HIV/AIDS (The Global Campaign for Education 2011). Girls who stay in school during adolescence have a later sexual debut, are less likely to be subjected to forced sex and, if sexually active, are more likely to use contraception than their peers who are out of school (girleffect.org).
Increasing the secondary education of all girls could result in an annual income increase of 30% per capita (Chabaan 2011).
Educated women reinvest 90% of their income in their family, while men reinvest 30%-40% (USAID).
Giving women the same access to resources and services as men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million (girleffect.org).
What’s in it for girls? JLMC firmly believes that reinvesting in the empowerment of adolescent girls means supporting the most powerful force for change on the planet. That’s why JLMC developed the Girl Power Project® curriculum to empower vulnerable adolescent girls with the tools, skills, and attitudes to stay in school and protect themselves from forced child marriage, early pregnancy, and disease.
As of 2017, 3,500 girls at 47 primary schools have completed the school-based Girl Power Project® curriculum. At the halfway point of the program, results are showing that participants are gaining more knowledge, life skills, and assets that strengthen their ability to successfully navigate adolescence.
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.
TOTAL LIVES IMPACTED
since the program’s inception
(Community Legal Volunteers) now serving central Uganda
Many communities in Uganda have limited exposure to their legal system. As a result, individuals are not aware of their human rights, women’s rights, or children’s rights, which are the law of the land in Uganda.
Through Project Justice we teach communities their legal rights and how to defend them. In partnership with the Uganda Federation of Women Attorneys (FIDA), JLMC has trained over 1,000 healthcare providers, police officers, and paralegals to become Community Legal Volunteers (CLVs).
CLVs are equipped with the knowledge to provide basic human rights and legal information, as well as guidance, through community dialogues. This partnership has established an effective referral system for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in central Uganda’s Luwero District.
What’s in it for girls? When girls feel safer and protected by their community, they are able to focus on education, accessing critical services and information, engaging with one another, exchanging information and building social assets, all of which will benefit not only themselves, but the community and their future families.
Project justice lays a critical foundation upon which the Girl Power Project® is built, promoting a legal justice network of support at the community, police and hospital levels that a girl can access if they are victims of sexual and/or gender based violence or other injustices.
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.