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Successful exam results for JMLC pupils

A core programme of CALM Africa, which CFU funding helps to support, is education. A key pillar of child protection is quality education, keeping children safe in schools and giving them the skills to enrich their future.

The Uganda National Examinations Board has released the 2016 Primary Leaving Examinations results. The results were received with excitement at JMLC, as the students performed very well.

According to Ninsima Geoffrey, the Director of Studies JMLC, “we got 10 first grades, with the best performing student getting aggregate 9. We also had 9 students passing in second grade, and in the third grade we had only 3 students.”

“The performance was very good. Am very happy about it,” announced CALM Africa Team Leader, James Ssekiwanuka in his office at JMLC. English was the best performed subject.

“We thank the Almighty God and appreciate the prayers of stakeholders and people of good-will for their continued support,” added Geoffrey.

In 2016, JMLC had 23 candidates sitting for PLE, interestingly for the first time, girls were more than boys. The class had 12 girls and 11 boys. JMLC also had candidates from other schools register to do their examinations under the JMLC centre number.

“We had no control over the performance of students from other schools who registered to use our centre number. Not all students who didn’t perform well are from our school. Since we want to help other schools, when they asked us, we accepted to register their students under our centre number,” James explains.

“It is important to note that our goal is not to teach students to just pass exams. We are about character formation, education for responsibility and preparing students for a better future. We are about moulding good citizens for Uganda who would contribute to their country’s development. When you emphasis character, conducive environment for learning and less teaching and more learning, then passing becomes an inevitable outcome. Passing exams is good as it manifests the school good works and raises the school profile, ‘’ the Team Leader added.

The principle of JMLC is to provide quality education to the children. “And education to us doesn’t necessarily mean performing well in exams, when in other areas your performance is poor,” emphasizes James.

JMLC also participates in co-curricular activities like sports, debates, leadership training and domestic tourism where students and staff visit different parts of the country. The school is also a strong competitor in inter district and national sports championships.

“We get reports that students of JMLC are always hardworking, humble, disciplined, focused and God-fearing, based on performance reports on our students who are now in secondary school,” happily narrates James.

Director of CALM Africa and Director of Studies with best performing students

As a sign of appreciation and motivation, the director and administration of JMLC organized the ‘Director’s Handshake’ event for the students who passed. Some of the gifts handed to the students were sent in by the foreign friends and supporters of JMLC.

“I call upon parents who have school going children, and have not registered them with us, we still have vacancies from nursery up to primary 7,” appeals Geoffrey. Geoffrey further states that, the fees structure for JMLC is also favourable. The school is also fighting hard to acquire a van to pick students who might be coming far from the school.

The next academic year starts on 6 February, when the first term opens. The administration and teaching staff of JMLC is already preparing for the academic year, and promise to continue improving the exams performance and character formation of its students.

This is a great achievement for us to hear. It means the pupils we’ve been working with over the last few years are set to continue in secondary school. It means that the standard of teaching and experience of the primary children is being maintained, and improving. It means that our donations are helping to ensure this is possible for these children. 

Our thanks to everyone who supports JMLC or has in the past, through donations to the school itself, sponsorship of a child, or volunteering there working with the staff and children.

For more information on any of the above, please do get in contact at info@childrenfirstuganda.co.uk

Meeting Martin

Nurturing children, forging ahead and growing with CALM Africa

Muheebwa Hillary spends some time getting to know one of CALM Africa’s staff, Martin Kateregga. This view from the inside shows the passion and dedication to their work and importance of their impact in the local community.

Martin

He speaks quietly, and slowly. But within him lies a big passion and attachment to the care of children, especially vulnerable children.

Martin Kateregga is one of the oldest staff members at CALM Africa. He has also seen Jolly Mercy Learning Centre take its baby steps, and grow into a top performing school in the region. At 32 years old, Martin is also a mentor to many children.

Martin joined CALM Africa in 2006, and has been part of the committed staff that has steered the fight for children’s rights.

“I was in my senior six vacation when I started associating with CALM Africa and James,” he reveals. “I also didn’t have much hope at the time. That’s when I learnt about this organization, which dealt with vulnerable children. “I felt this will give me a chance to explore the skills within me,” he adds’’. And thus Martin found his calling.

After the vacation, Martin joined Kyambogo University where he was offered a bachelors degree in education.

“While studying at university, I would offer part time services to CALM Africa. During university holidays, I would also teach at CALMs schools in Rakai,” he reveals. At the time, CALM had 3 schools in Rakai; Kiganda Education Centre, St James Secondary School and Zefad.

When he completed his university degree, Martin joined CALM Africa as a full time employee. He embarked on a journey of serving vulnerable children.

“I reach out to families which are being disrupted by poverty and illiteracy. Most especially to child headed families and vulnerable children. Through counseling, focus group discussions among other intervention methods, we try to reform these children.” Martin describes his technique.

“I grew up in poverty and an illiteracy stricken community, so I know how disrupting poverty and its associated problems can be. I rely on my experience to reach to the inner feelings of these children. If my experience can help in anyway, then am glad it does.” He says, eyes looking a far. He was born in Kakuuto County in Rakai district.

As a professional teacher, Martin is also part of the teaching staff at Jolly Mercy Learning Centre.

“Part of my assignments includes teaching; I teach Social Studies and Religious Education in the upper primary, primary 5 up to Primary 7”.

In the course of teaching, Martin has mentored a lot of children. “While teaching in CALM Africa schools, I have had a chance to mentor many children, among them are two students I can point out who are quite successful (Kalisa Adam and Irene Nabachwa both at the University,” teacher Martin reveals.

Presently, Martin concentrates on Jolly-Mercy Learning Centre and the Head teacher affirms that Martin is one of the assiduous and hardworking teachers whose contribution to the growth of JMLC is immeasurable.

At CALM, Martin also interacts with volunteers to acclimatize to the place. He ensures follow up of sponsored children, monitoring their performances, home visits and interactions. At JMLC, he is always looking after the pupils and there welfare.

I have a belief that if given support, CALM can do greater work and help even more children in impoverished situations, to realize their potential. Over the years, Martin’s passion for looking after vulnerable children has grown, and he still looks forward to champion their cause.

Mobile Clinic: Bringing Medical Care Closer to the Community

Being in good health, you are able to prosper. In order to contribute to the prosperity of residents of Nangabo, CALM Africa brings medical care services closer to the community, bridging the medical access gap.

CALM Africa believes in thinking big, starting small, but starting now.

“CALM Africa has been running a community health outreach program for the last 10 years. This program is as a result of a 7-in-1 therapy that we have developed,” explains CALM Africa’s Director as a team of medics attend to community members in the organization’s compound.

“The 7-in-1 therapy looks at the natural means which can easily enhance one’s life. Whereby people can depend on nature and nutrition to improve life and even prevent many diseases. This therapy involves counseling, nutrition, herbal, use and importance of water, exercise, meditation and spirituality. We teach our community members to apply this therapy,” adds director James Ssekiwanuka.

However, when all this fails, CALM Africa highly encourages community members to visit the nearest medical center, for a medical checkup and treatment.

“We have a mobile clinic, and nurses working with JMLC. To do community sensitization, we seek permission from the in-charge of Kasangati Health Centre IV to give us extra nurses to go to the field and serve the community. This is called Community Based Health Care, whereby community members are called and sensitized on how to prevent curable diseases like malaria and about sanitation,” explains the director.

The mobile clinic medical team visits the community regularly. On every trip, the team attends to between 100 to 200 patients, including women and children.

“The team, along with other professional organisations, goes to do immunisations, nutritional advice, HIV/AIDS testing and checkups. We then make quick referrals for those cases that cannot be handled by this mobile clinic team. The mobile clinic covers Nangabo and Kira. Most of the population in this area can be categorized as a peri-urban.

Ambition

CALM Africa has a grand plan of constructing a 3 storied building to provide health services. This health centre will be very well equipped to attend to medical needs of the surrounding Nangabo community and the entire region. However, we shall continue with the mobile clinic and outreach program until this aim becomes viable and beyond; every person cannot at always make it to the health centre.

We have secured one full acre of land on which this medical facility shall be based. We have now embarked on the second phase of drawing an architectural plan. This is being done concurrently with writing proposals for funding and support. In the due course we shall say more about the proposed Health Facility.

 

by Muheebwa Hillary

Networking – helping CALM Africa grow

Our new journalist, Muheebwa Hillary, talks about CALM Africa and the great growth they’ve seen over the years, from a Ugandan perspective. Read about CALM Africa’s achievements through working in collaboration and opening up new avenues, in the first of our ‘on the ground’ reports.

The car’s shadow slides over the vegetation on the leeward side of the sun, as we slowly move on a murram road to Uganda Youth Development Link’s Masooli Youth Centre, in Wakiso district. James Kimera Ssekiwanuka is heading there, as part of his network assignment. Networking has had a big impact in the growth and outreach of Calm Africa, where James is the Director.

Uganda Youth Development Link’s (UYDEL) Masooli Youth Centre is a stopover home for trafficked children, orphans and other disadvantaged youthon rehabilitation. The aspirations of UYDEL match with Calm Africa’s agenda, which include promotion, observance and protection of the rights of the child in general, and concerned with the plight of vulnerable children in particular.

Through networking, James and Calm Africa have spread their wings beyond Uganda. From its humble beginning as a self help group in Rakai and Sembabule districts back in 1985, Calm Africa evolved into a community group and is now a fully licensed Non Governmental Organization, with partners across the world. Some of the international partner organizations associated with Calm Africa include Children First Uganda, Real Gap Experience both based in United Kingdom and Infancia, based in Spain.

One of their networking tools has been the exchange of volunteers. By the end of 2009, when the volunteers’ initiative was launched, over 50 volunteers were received at Calm Africa, and its affiliate education center, Jolly Mercy Learning Center.

Part of Jolly Mercy Learning Centre

Calm Africa has three other affiliate schools based in Rakai district. These are St. James Secondary School, Kiganda Secondary School and Zefad Primary School. All the schools combined have a total of over eight hundred school attending children; more than 60% of these are orphans.

Volunteers at the learning centers support in teaching classes, vocational skills training, material assistance and support, constructing houses, resource mobilization and information exchange.

“Some come as volunteers and end up taking up some of the needy students, sponsoring them their school fees and other scholastic items,” says James.

The networking practice extends to tertiary institutions. All leading universities in Uganda do periodically recommend students for internship training programme at Calm Africa.

According to James, in the last 2 months, over 22 university students have undergone and successfully completed their internship training. The universities include; Makerere, Kyambogo, Bugema and Ndege universities.

In coalition with other children support organizations, local government leadership and community groups, Calm Africa is giving disadvantaged children, orphans and other vulnerable children, an opportunity to live a decent life. This as James describes is because “the best way to protect children is to return them to their families, equipped with life sustaining skills”. Currently, Calm Africa conservatively says they are supporting over two thousand children, both directly and indirectly in the districts of Rakai, Wakiso and Kampala.

At Masooli Youth Center, James is scheduled to meet with the community social workers, to devise ways of how to manage trafficked children, further expanding his outreach in working with vulnerable children.

Muheebwa Hillary will be writing more articles for CFU and CALM Africa ongoing, to follow the work being done and provide news from in the area. These will be available on our blog in coming months, so follow us to get updates on newly added articles.

Charity chums – causes coming together

CALM Africa stands for Children’s Rights Advocacy and Lobby Mission.

Did you know that?

That is the core message behind all of the work CALM Africa does. Through education, healthcare, social care, counselling, training and all the avenues of their work, it’s all promoting and actively improving the rights of children in Uganda.

You are more than likely reading our blog and keeping in touch with us because you are interested in the work we do to support CALM Africa. Maybe you volunteered at CALM Africa or have joined us because someone you know did and you think the work they do is very important. We certainly think they do fantastic work and that is why CFU are here. But of course, they and us are not the only ones fighting this cause.

A couple of days ago I met with another charity Director, Lisa Davis, who set up Rights International last year. Her charity is primarily focused on advocating children’s rights, through delivering children’s rights training and providing things like education and healthcare to improve children’s rights in Uganda. Much like CALM Africa does. They operate in a different area of Uganda and it was great to be able to swap stories and experiences.

A couple of months before, I also met with Richard Mathias, Director of Amazing Children Uganda. Their charity operates to find sponsors to enable street children of Kampala to enter education and get them off the streets. Again, it was so great to hear about another arm of work being done and to share our experiences.

It’s so fantastic to see great work being done, in different ways, to fight for the same cause. All of us are volunteer-led charities and share very similar difficulties as well as brilliant stories to talk about. We hope to work with these organisations in future, to combine efforts and improve our work even further. However that may or may not take shape, it’s both lovely and important to make friends with other organisations as together we can make a bigger difference. We will certainly keep in touch with both!