Our Story begins with a chance conversation between Ann McCarthy a retired grandmother and Ida Horner by of Ethnic Supplies. Ann had already been helping the villagers with their wish to get passing trade to stop in the village, but the challenges faced in the village were huge for her to attempt to tackle on her own.
Ruhanga is a rural parish within Ntungamo district in SW of Uganda, comprising of ten small villages of approximately 90 households in each village (roughly 4000 people) on the main road to Congo and Rwanda. The population here is comprised of subsistence farmers, with very little if any disposable income for education or healthcare. There are no industries or formal job opportunities in the village and therefore sources of income are limited leading to a high incidence of workelessness and poverty specifically amongst women and the youth. The village had no access to clean water, children under 8 years old had no access to clean water and there was a high incidence of malaria.
In order to help Ann raise the money required to address these challenges, Ida together with a few friends and associates formed a Charity Let Them Help Themselves Out of Poverty (LTHT).
LTHT is a community development charity working regenerate communities and give communities the tools to day today challenges. The initiative brings stakeholders with varying degrees of experience and expertise on board to address complex issues affecting poor people in a holistic way. The big deal here is therefore to share expertise and skills to tackle financial independence through income generating activities but address other area such Education, Health, skills shortages or even issues like access to clean water
Work in Ruhanga began in earnest in 2008 and the main challenges facing the community were that children under 8 had no access to education and the village had no access to clean water.
Our achievements so far
- Ruhanga Community Development school: this started out in a chicken shed, which has been expended to provide education free of charge to 400 village children
- Mosquito nets: in 2009 we provided mosquito nets to 250 homes to compliment the government programme
- Uganda Lodge Guest House: The original idea of a village bar that the community started out with has been expanded to incorporate accommodation that sleeps up to 25 people at anyone time. This has meant that the project is able to take in overseas volunteers that work alongside the teaching staff at the village school
- Water Project: perhaps this is one of our biggest undertakings to date. In 2011 we completed a piped water programme by installing 20 taps across the 3 village cells. Previously women and children in the community walked for an hour and half to access water that was shared with cattle and other livestock.
- 2012: We have got off to a good start this year and have already completed a girls only toilet at the school to ensure that the older girls can remain at school, we completed a school kitchen so we can feed the children whilst they are in school, and work is under way on the Community Health Centre which we hope to complete by the end of the year.
How have we done all this?
The key to our success has first and foremost been down to our partners on the ground under the leadership of a man called Denis Aheirwe. The village CBO has worked with us to ensure that both and their goals are met and earlier this year they registered a local NGO called Stand on Your Own (SOYO). Without their efforts and cooperation we would not got as far as we have and for that we are grateful.
In terms of funding, we have not had funding from any government programmes, so our funding has come from sales of handicrafts through Ethnic Supplies, leveraging our networks here in the UK to fundraise from individual donors. The Volunteer programme has produced a team of committed supporters one of whom championed our project at this place of work leading to a donation of £50,000. The children at the school attend for free thanks to an army of child sponsors including Mr Mutenza of the Uganda Convention UK who sponsors 5 girls in the village. Because of our donors are individuals we have claimed Gift Aid on those donations.
Having addressed the gaps in social services in the village our focus has now turned to income generating activities.
In a village without factories nor formal employment the jobs will have to created from scratch, and some of the ideas we have included
- A village bakery-cost £5000,
- A purpose built fruit and vegetable market -cost £150,000
- Car and bicycle repair services -cost £7000.
- Bee Keeping – to train and set up 5 people in a beekeeping business – £2240
But we need your help to make this happen. Our email address for PayPal donations is firstname.lastname@example.org and details about our work are at www.lethemhelpthemselves.org