The Rural Girl Child Mentorship Uganda (RGCM Uganda) project.

Female nursing students in their uniform

PCE (Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation) seek to break the cycle of poverty, promote sustainable, community-driven change and help empowered communities to take charge of their own development. PCE’s main focus is on capacity building in and for rural communities, especially the education and empowerment of vulnerable girls, women and children. Community participation and leadership is key to the organisation and they believe this helps sustain positive change. PCE aims to do this by enhancing knowledge and skills within rural communities and to promote the exchange of information and best practices through education, mentorship, advocacy and strategic partnerships for social, cultural and economic development.

The RGCM Uganda project was founded in 2012 and is a growing mentorship programme designed to help poor rural Ugandan girls attend school. Only 1 in every 200 rural Ugandan girls receive any post-secondary education, often due to reasons such as chronic poverty, HIV, cultural beliefs that education is “wasted” on girls, long-distance walks to schools, lack of sanitary support, domestic violence, and other challenges.

Each rural Ugandan girl involved in the project is connected with a mentor who cover funding at the Secondary and Tertiary/ University levels and also helps nurture her vision for a brighter future. To date, the program has supported 195 young women, and 25 young men. The program covers boarding secondary schools, nursing courses, primary schools teacher training and bachelor degrees. The funding pays for fees, meals, accommodation, equipment, uniforms, transportation and letter exchanges.

Since the beginning of the project, 18 students have graduated from different colleges and universities. In December 2018, 19 university students will graduate, 9 nurses and 1 primary school teach will also complete their final examinations in December.

Walking on Egg Shells – reintegration of female ex-inmates

A lady stood with vegetables grown in her garden

ELWOFOD (Eldoret Women for Development) is a community based organisation started by 2 women in Eldoret Slum who had been convicted for 6 years for a crime they did not commit, with an aim of enhancing re-entry of previous female prisoners into their communities, through economic skill development, agri-business skills and financial literacy training, with an additional aim of ending gender based violence upon the women’s release.

ELWOFOD work with 50 women ex-prisoners teaching them agribusiness skills, and teaching them how produce fresh vegetables through organic farming for both domestic uses and sales. The women participate in 4 weeks of practical training, followed by 3 home-based practical tests to assess the level of understanding, this helps to decide what level of mentoring is needed. The best participants are then identified and trained as ‘Trainer of Trainees (ToTs) to mentor the other 40 participants on the best practice methods, through home based monitoring and mentorship.

Half way through the project, a one week refresher training course is provided by ELWOFOD and the Government Department of Agriculture. A further 2 day refresher training is provided for the 10 ToTs, whom are then trained as ‘Women Ex-Prisoners – Farming with Purpose’ Champions by the Governmental Department of Agriculture. The women were trained on the basics of; making efficient use of space, identifying and treating diseases and pests, weeding, watering and pre-harvesting. All women received fast maturing certified vegetable seeds (kale, spinach and onion).

Since the project began, all women have established kitchen gardens, and have started harvesting their fresh farm vegetables for household consumption, 32 of these women are earning some income from the sale of the vegetable surplus. 18 of the women have established vegetable nurseries.

All women were chosen based on their malnourishment, or risk of malnourishment. Since the project has been running malnourishment figures have had a 100% decrease and only 2 out of the 50 women have a risk of malnourishment.

Since the beginning of 2018, 100 recently released female prisoners have been registered on the project. Overall the project has empowered the women by allowing to take charge of the project themselves. Additional training on financial literacy has allowed the women to learn and adopt a business mindset, make incomes and use their incomes responsibly.