So today I went with the St. Francis team to an area east of Jinja called Ntinkalu. I was told the local meaning of the name is “The Dry Land”. The reason being is that the area is often plagued with drought conditions. The reason we were traveling there was to meet a group of Jjajas or Grannies. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post about the Grannie program at St. Francis. In this location, the reason for many of the Jjajas raising orphans is that the men in the area are close to the river and are fishermen. They often become victims to the area crocodiles and disease (such as HIV). So then the women are unable to care for their children and they default to the Jjajas to help raise the children. Since farming conditions are poor and most of the remaining arable land was bought by the nearby Kakira Sugar Plantation, the Jjajas have resorted to working at a local stone quarry which is very dangerous work. I was told of one Jjaja who worked there when a boulder fell and crushed her legs. She needed crutches to move around which made things difficult for her to work. This particular Jjaja group has 48 members and works together to support each other – which can be difficult since many live somewhat far apart – and have just begun to have their own Income Generating Activites (IGAs) through collective savings and loan programs that are facilitated by St. Francis. Think of it as a community microfinance bank that each group runs themselves. St. Francis also facilitates training for them. For instance, next week they are planning a trip to take a group of Jjajas from various groups to a demonstration farm to learn new agriculture growing techniques.
In addition to treating the Jjajas, we also delivered school supplies (i.e. books, pens/pencils, and math kits) to select orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). What St. Francis will do is to evaluate each Jjaja family with OVCs. Based on a needs assessment, they will decide whether they can accept all, some, or maybe just one child in the family into their program. It can be a tough decision since some Jjajas have up to 5-6 OVCs that they have to raise but funds are limited. Specifically, the Jjaja program receives a bulk of their funds from the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
For me, it was a nice experience to help hand out books, pens/pencils to these children. Some have no shoes and no uniforms. St. Francis tries to help out with funds for school fees and uniforms as feasible.
I will post pictures next week of my trip. I have included an outside picture of my building where I live since I do not think I have shown you all where I sleep at night! My front door to my room is on the far right. Right now I have no neighbors but that changes from time to time since relatives come and go and the host family occasionally rents out rooms.