The number of new HIV infections has been rising steadily since 2009 in Uganda, although it was initially declining in the 1990s and the early 2000s. In 2015, an estimated number of 1.5 million people were HIV positive, with many living within or near the most densely populated area of Kampala. Kazo is close to a brothel in a slum area, where the sex trade is a main cause for the HIV transmission, and the HIV prevalence in Wakiso District, where Kazo is located, is over 10%, the highest in Uganda. A survey conducted by UYWEFA in 2010 in the Kazo community found that, for each household on average, approximately one member living with HIV and two orphans left helpless when they lose their parents to the disease.
Another problem specific to the Kazo community is related to the youth. Kazo’s proximity to the Kampala city area attracts the young people, with an estimated number of 12,000 registered young adults aged 18-24. Due to low education level or a lack of technical and vocational skills, many of them are unemployed, and some have resorted to stealing, drug abuse, sex trade and forced sex. UYWEFA encourages the youth to participate in community events and become resourceful in helping their neighbors, empowering them as they serve at UYWEFA as role models to the children and obtain useful skills that help them make a living.
UYWEFA has carried out the following programs so as to help resolve the above challenges—
UYWEFA has the International Education Center that provides the affordable quality formal education to children from kindergarten to Grade 7 at the primary level. By the end of January 2017, UYWEFA has enrolled a total of 315 children in school. Despite teaching what is required in the national curriculum, UYWEFA offers monthly technical courses that help equip children with computer skills.
UYWEFA refers a total of 35 HIV-affected children in its education center to other entities working on HIV, like Nurture Africa that offers free treatment. It also provides home-based care services to HIV-positive single mothers through home visits. In addition, UYWEFA partners with local and international NGOs to deliver campaigns that raise the public awareness of HIV prevalence and blood testing.
UYWEFA employs local people as teachers and administrative staff and provides periodical professional training to them. It also involves local and international young people in the volunteer work to increase their experience and skills. In March 2017, UYWEFA is to build an innovation center to equip local young people and women with essential business and technical skills that would help them support themselves.
UYWEFA helps resettle a limited number of homeless mothers and vulnerable children. For the mothers, it first finds a place that can shelter them and pays the rent fees for them over a period of five months and then offers capital to support the mothers in starting their own business and becoming self-reliant. As for the children, it continuously pays their rent fees and enrolls them at the education center with free education when they reach the schooling age.
UYWEFA designs and implements youth facilitation programs that engage local young children and adolescents, helping them get to know the resources available in the community and sensitizing them to the community issues, like HIV-related stigma and gender discrimination. It also organizes the Championship Cup annually in May, which is a football tournament that brings together the people in the community.
UYWEFA has made strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the community of Kazo. The Kazo community has witnessed a reduced crime rate and a greater understanding of youth issues and rights, with improved community relations. UYWEFA’s education, sports, and entertainment activities have significantly contributed to this progress. In the future, the organization hopes to help its beneficiaries raise awareness, both of HIV/AIDS and the programs available at UYWEFA, and increase the volunteer support it can provide to the community.