Okerai Primary School, Amuria District, Uganda

Mission work

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Please download the project appeal here.

This report comes as a result funds sent via SPICMA from the parishes of St Bernadette’s, St Mungo’s and St John Vianney’s in the Diocese of Dunkeld, Scotland to CEREDO.

Background:

The School Sanitation Support Project has been an intervention for Okerai Primary School in Amuria District in Eastern Uganda. This area lies in one of the poorest areas of Teso region as it suffered from decades of brutal internal conflict and so being a rural school most of its infrastructure was destroyed as the school was a reception Centre for about 2,000 internally displaced persons as a result of both the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) activities and persistent Karamojong cattle rustling. The school as of now hosts a student population of 464(273 males,191female) these are children aged 6 to 14 years and 12 teachers.

The school has still challenges in having adequate pit latrines for the growing number of pupils joining the school. Because of inadequate sanitation, most of the children resorted to open defecation in and around the school which has occasionally led to disease out breaks due to poor sanitation. The school did not have access to a safe water supply. The prevalence of water and sanitation related diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, Typhoid and the skin and eye infections had been high in Okerai Primary school and this often culminated into high dropout rate for the girls.

This prompted the School Management Committee and the Parents’ Teachers’ Association of Okerai to approach CEREDO for an intervention. This prompted a request for funding from SPICMA so as to improve the school sanitation, hygiene and water supply. This was also with a focus on improving the health of the school community and having a positive impact on an improvement on the completion rates of the girl-learners.

THE STORY TODAY/CURRENT STATUS

The funding from SPICMA/ the parishes in Scotland has been intended for a project to improve the school learning environment for Okerai School Community. The community and the children received the program with a lot of excitement as it was hard to get safe clean drinking water within the school setting before. The safe clean water provision for a population of 464 children and 12 teachers by establishing rain water harvesting tanks which are actually now harvesting the rain water. The members of the school community and the children had this to say:-

In the local language, the Chairperson PTA expressed joy by saying ‘.. it is good CEREDO has been here to build for us a school but also to look into the needs of the children by bringing these big water reservoirs. We are now sure the children, teachers and members of the community can have access to safe and clean water to drink and to use. The Children will now love to be at school,” Aloka Damiano PTA Chairman.

The girl-learner in one of the upper classes remarked that, “………. It had been hard going for us to access water for use during our periods and that made us always stay home for days. I am now happy I can wash myself and keep my hygiene during my menses and after using the latrines. I will now stay with my friends the girls to stay and finish school and move to the next level.” Akwi Frances, P.6 pupil.
The Chairperson School Management Committee on the day of the launch stated clearly that “ ……. It has been a great opportunity for CEREDO with the development partners to assist our school. There has been a lot of water from the roof but no means to harness it to meet the dire needs of the pupils. This is going to encourage more pupils to join the school and continue with their education without dropping out. LONG LIVE CEREDO, LONG LIVE SPICMA”. Okello Simon Peter, Chairperson SMC.

An elder who has been instrumental in the establishment of the school in this area had this to say, “……. I have been hoping for someone to come to our rescue because the nearest borehole is 4 kms from the school and it also dries in the dry season. I am glad there is water now at school with two huge storage facilities that are filled from the rain. As a person of the area I do pledge to ensure safety of these facility. It will also serve future generations. The teachers too can now use the water with us also the community”. Omome Vance, an elder belonging to the Cultural Union.
The Head teacher of the School stated clearly that, “….it has been a step forward for Okerai Primary School to have this project of sanitation support. Now the teachers can prepare for lessons early enough and likewise the pupils. There are going to be no delays in the school programs which had been the case. I now also expect the challenges of the water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, cough skin and eye diseases to no longer be a big problem. A lot had been spent on this to secure treatment for the children in the families in the past and also the school infirmary. There will also be no more deworming of the children as there is now clean and safe water for use and for drinking. I am happy that the children were carried through improved hygienic behaviors like cleaning hands after toilet use and there are no more cases of water related communicable diseases as before. This is going to support our girl learners as they can wash without any problem and it will curb the rate of drop out”. Okwameri Francis, Head teacher.

A parent to the school but who also doubles as a treasurer of PTA had this to say,” ……. i am glad for my girls in school that water will always be there to support them during their menses. I will encourage them to join school, stay at school and finish school. This will make all the girl learners to stay at school adnd there is going to be no drop outs. The school looks much better than it was without water.” Aome Suzan, treasurer of PTA.

Overall, there has been a marked improvement in the enrollment of the learners from 464 in the close of the year to 514 (284 males, 230 females) as per this year’s first term enrolment. There is a steady rise of the girl-learners chiefly because of these facilities.

Teacher commitment and engagement during the school hours is no longer hampered or interfered with by taking some time to look for water. The general school environment is greatly improved and so together with this report is the accountability financial report.

The management of CEREDO looks forward to a continued working partnership with SPICMA and we express our gratitude to the three parishes in Scotland who provided the finances for our project.

If you have similar feedback from projects your parish has supported it would be really enriching for our Diocese if you would share this Good News with us.