ACCESS has done several community-based projects with the aim of providing education and encouraging a healthier, more self-sustainable life. Our three-pronged approach includes the provision of medical care, education, and economic empowerment, through a variety of programs.
Income Generating Activities (IGA Projects)
ACCESS provides startup capital in the form of no-interest loans to guardians/mothers of children in Early Childhood Development program. These loans are used by the beneficiaries to establish desired businesses like tailoring, boutiques, salons and retail shops. The income generated is used to support their families and eventually refund the loan so that others might benefit. ACCESS has so far given out startup capital to 10 beneficiaries in the amount of Ugx 4,900,000 in 2018.
ACCESS also offers tangible IGA projects such as providing goats, pigs and poultry to needy families. Once these animals are reared and multiply, some opt to sell them and buy a cow, enabling them to earn money from the milk they produce. We have so far given out 15 goats and 25 pigs to 40 different families.
Currently 44 guardians/mothers whose children are attending the Early Childhood Development program are being trained in knitting. We hope that with this skill, they will be able to make sweaters, baby clothes and bed covers to sell and earn money to support their families.
In the near future we plan to introduce craft making (e.g. jewelry, craft bags and baskets) using threads and beads, to those who are interested.
Safe water Project
When we go to a community, the community members identify some of the challenges they face, and from these we select and address those that are most urgent.
ACCESS has established a longstanding Life Care Clinic where community members can access subsidized medical care. Approximately 12,000 patients are treated each year through the ACCESS clinic and its affiliated programs and partnerships.
OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children)
ACCESS supports 42 index OVCs and over 320 sub-index OVCs. Index OVCs are vulnerable children who are identified by CHW/VHTs (Community Health Workers/Village Health Teams) using the designed criteria. These children are fully supported with free medical care, school fees, scholastics, home visits, and guidance and counseling. Sub-index OVC’s are children found in child-headed families and/or families of indexed children. Because of limited funds, these children are only supported with scholastic materials, home visits, and guidance and counseling. 18 volunteer health workers conduct 5–10 home visits per month, providing basic care, health education and home assessments to the OVCs. Additionally, 262 OVCs have received seeds (e.g. carrots, green pepper, onions, “sukuma wiki” and eggplant).
ACCESS also supports 40 Jajjas. Jajjas are elderly women and men aged 64 and above, who are supported with free medical care, monthly basic needs provisions, home visits, and counseling and guidance. On the left, one of our social workers talking to a Jajja during a routine home visit.
Family Planning Program
ACCESS offers free family planning services to the community with the help of 97 trained VHTs (Village Health Teams). In order to reach as many beneficiaries as possible we have set up the ACCESS Lifecare Clinic, broadcast our services on radio talk shows, provided community outreach for health education, and established toll free call in lines for patients to receive information and services. Over the years we have provided family planning to over 15,000 people in the Nakaseke region including permanent birth control methods.
The NCDs (noncommunicable diseases) clinic screens for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, asthma and chronic obstructive airway disease. We set up a clinic in Nakaseke with 301 recruited NCD patients and have screened over 16,000 participants. Over 20 CHWs (55% Male) from rural communities were trained in NCD detection, care, management and education at a recent three-day workshop. We are now running a research study on 100 patients diagnosed with hypertension and/or diabetes that will determine the impact of their educational intervention on health outcomes.
Health Training Institute
A centerpiece of ACCESS is its Health Training Institute, where we train young men and women in midwifery and nursing skills. The certificate program takes 2 ½ years to complete, and 5 classes of students are currently enrolled. To date the institute has a total of 256 young men and women who are pursuing certificates in midwifery and nursing, and 55 young men and women are awaiting graduation.
ACCESS is proud to offer scholarships to needy students. Over 15 scholarships have been awarded, and currently we have identified an additional 10 students in need of support. We recently held a beauty scholarship pageant and the three winners were awarded financial aid to cover their tuition.
Our graduates make an average of $200/month compared to the district average of $30/month.
The incidence of pregnancy in our students is less than 2%, compared to the district incidence of 30% by the age of 18, and the incidence of HIV in our students is 0%, compared to 12% in the rest of the district. These numbers tell the whole story.
Dream Girls Program
Over the years ACCESS has supported 90 dream girls of which we are currently supporting 30. Dream girls are young girls between the ages of 14-18 who have dropped out of school due to risk factors such as early child pregnancies, poverty, and death of parents. These girls had hopes of becoming responsible individuals and productive citizens of Uganda, but without an education they cannot achieve that dream. ACCESS supports them in acquiring vocational skills like hair dressing and tailoring in order to bring them out of poverty. We provide them with training materials, courses, free medical care, home visits, counseling and guidance. Like the OVC’s, they are identified from the community using a set vulnerability criterion with the help of CHW/VHTs.
ACCESS also has a solar project where solar panels are given to families whose children attend school. The panels are offered at a subsidized cost and provide solar energy that enables children to read and improve in school. So far we have given out a total number 17 solar panels to 17 families.
ACCESS Early Childhood Development Program (AECDP)AECDP is a program where children aged 1 to 5 years come to ACCESS every Saturday using the ACCESS bus for those who live too far to walk. They come to play with toys, eat healthy meals, watch cartoons, learn how to read, write and color, learn English and improve interaction skills in addition to receiving free medical care. 62 children are served in the program.