Out of a population of approximately 31 million, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in over 2.2 million orphaned children who have lost one or both parents. In addition to the trauma of losing a parent, orphans go without many of the basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. While the African extended family has traditionally stepped in to support orphans, the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has overburdened this traditional safety net. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project was born out of this crisis.
The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is working on behalf of HIV/AIDS orphans in rural Uganda to end systemic deprivation, poverty and hunger through a holistic approach to community development, education, and healthcare. We envision the rural communities of Uganda able to build strong community and family structures using holistic and sustainable approaches that address challenges they face due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with a particular emphasis on grandmothers. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters around the world, NAOP is able to provide students’ medical care, healthy meals, clean water, and more.
NAOP operates two primary schools in two rural villages in Uganda. Our highly trained teachers and support staff are educating 487 children this year, which includes 60 preschool aged children. We are also paying for 97 students to attend secondary school. NAOP is responsible for 584 children’s education in 2012 - an 11% increase from last year! A very unique aspect of our organization is that our schools are completely free to attend and children are guaranteed an education through high school from the moment they are enrolled. We believe this creates buy-in from the students to perform at their highest potential. It is working - in 2010 Nyaka Students performed in the top 3% out of 220 schools in the district! We’re still waiting for the 2011 results. In addition to providing a quality education in a nurturing environment, we include two meals per day, uniforms, books, medical care, and supplies to the students.
As a part of our holistic human rights-based approach to combating pervasive hunger and poverty, we also serve nearly than 6,500 grandmothers, through 91 support groups. Having tragically lost their own children to AIDS they are now raising their orphaned grandchildren without social security, health care, retirement, child welfare, or basic housing. Nyaka supports these unsung heroes by providing them a Grandmothers’ Coordinator who trains them on practical life skills such as parenting, grief management, gardening, nursing, leadership, and business development. In addition, NAOP provided the most destitute grannies with over 130 new stable homes, kitchens, and pit latrines last year, as well as a microfinance program where they make goods like baskets and jewelry that is sold in the United States.
This year, NAOP has opened a medical clinic in the village of Nyakagyezi. Dr. Paul Deweese and other doctors from the United States of America visited NAOP in October to open the clinic. Dr. Deweese writes, “From its inception NAOP has been about promoting human dignity. Initially this was focused on orphans but quickly included grandmothers. Every program NAOP has undertaken has led to the demolishing of barriers to human flourishing. While there remains much to do, The Mummy Drayton School Clinic will play an important role in assisting individuals and the broader community in preventing and treating disease. There is simply no higher calling than this. Few organizations have the capacity and the reach to make such a dramatic impact on the well-being of individuals living in poverty as NAOP. Together we are making history. In fact, NAOP is the forum where hope and history are matched.”
Additionally, we have a very active Anti-AIDS Choir at both schools, a radio program that brings a voice to orphans and grannies, a farm that produces food for the schools, a clean water system at the Nyaka school, a robust volunteer program, and much more.
The human rights-based holistic work that we are doing has the potential to be replicated in other villages, countries, and continents around the globe. NAOP’s model can be used around the globe to alleviate poverty holistically, as our approach works!
Providing access to clean water is a critical piece of every aspect of our programs.