Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fighting Sexual Assault in Uganda

I want to tell you about a brave little girl named Grace.

I first met Grace several years ago. She was a student at your Kutamba Primary School. Like other kids her age, she loved playing with her friends, having fun, and going to school. 

Then everything changed. She was brutally attacked–sexually assaulted–by a thirty-five-year-old man. 

Grace was just nine years old.

Grace’s grandmother, Granny Rose, knew who had hurt her—he had the nerve to offer her a goat if she would drop the matter. But she refused. She didn’t want to cover up what had happened. 

But what could she do?

Granny Rose knew the police would only arrest the man if she paid a $12 fee—half a month’s wages. Unless she found a way to pay it, the pedophile who hurt her granddaughter would go free. He could prey on other little girls. 

Granny Rose felt powerless.

Grace had a long walk to school by herself—leaving her vulnerable to another attack. What could she do to protect her granddaughter? 

Granny Rose had a tough decision to make. She didn’t want her granddaughter to be hurt again, but she didn’t want Grace to miss out on her future either. In the end, she decided to send Grace back to school. 

When Grace returned to school, she was carrying a heavy burden. She couldn’t focus in class. She had become very shy. It was as if the life had been taken from her.

Finally, someone asked the right questions, and with tears in her eyes, Grace told her story.

Jackson–my husband and your friend–was there with me in Uganda when I found out what happened to Grace. Her story broke our hearts. I don’t know if she was the first of your students to have this experience, but she was the first to do something incredibly powerful. She spoke up. 

Grace’s bravery did something else too–it forced me to remember my own experience.

Grace’s story is my story too. When I was eleven, I was attacked–just like Grace. But unlike Grace, I stayed quiet. 

I tried to forget what had happened, but I still felt shame and embarrassment. There was no one there to speak up for me, to demand that the man who assaulted me be brought to justice.

When I heard Grace’s story, I knew I never wanted another child to think they had to suffer in silence and in shame. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. 

I couldn’t change what had happened to Grace, but I could help her heal. And I realized I could use my voice now to help other little girls. I could demand justice for victims. Maybe I could help prevent future assaults.

Shortly after I first heard Grace’s story, I established the EDJA Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending the sexual assault of girls in rural Uganda and to securing justice for those already assaulted. 

Grace’s bravery has brought real change to the community. Thanks to her courage, EDJA became a reality. Grace was given counseling to help her move toward healing. Later, her attacker was tried and sentenced to ten years in jail.

From that important beginning, Nyaka and EDJA have worked hand in hand, especially for your students. Together, we have fought for girls, both in the classroom and in their communities. Together, we have nurtured their minds and defended their bodies. Together, we have demanded justice. 

And now together, we will continue the fight. Today, we’re pleased to announce that EDJA is becoming part of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project family.

Don’t worry—everything you love about Nyaka is staying the same. We will continue to serve your students and your grandmothers through your schools, clinic, grandmothers program, library, and other programs. 

With EDJA joining Nyaka, you’ll also have the opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable children—both through your schools and in the community.

Together, Nyaka and EDJA will help bring an end to sexual violence in rural Uganda. Together, we will send a message to anyone who harms little girls: you WILL be held accountable.

This important work can’t happen without YOU. We invite you to celebrate this important moment in Nyaka’s history by helping even more of your girls. 

YOUR gift will help YOUR girls succeed. 

YOU will help the victims get the support they need. YOU will ensure that their rapists go to jail. YOU will help educate the community. And YOU will make sure that girls can reach their full potential through education.

As you know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There isn’t a better time to help ensure YOUR girls never have to face what Grace and I did. 

We can’t do it without YOU. This is YOUR opportunity to remind YOUR girls that they are valued and worthy of achieving their dreams. 

YOUR gift will empower girls who were once victims to become victors. 

Make your gift HERE today!

With Gratitude,

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

NVSS is off to a great year!

The 2018 school year is off to a great start and your students are glad to be back! It’s the first year that NVSS is at full capacity, educating grades S.1-S.4. The school was opened in phases starting with S.1 in 2015 and added another class every year after. Before NVSS opened, these students would have to attend secondary and vocational schools far from home. Today, they are able to attend NVSS and remain surrounded by the positive influence of the Nyaka team. There are 54 students from the Nyaka and Kutamba primary schools who moved on to NVSS this year, bringing the entire student body at NVSS to 209 students!

The school allows Nyaka to continue providing their education in a supportive environment. Students who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS face barriers that other children don't. They are more vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual assault. Many are dealing with grief and loss, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors. With over a decade of experience, Nyaka is better equipped to help these children overcome those barriers than other schools. Nyaka also provides vital supportive services including counseling, sexual assault interventions, and reproductive health education. Nyaka believes that all children deserve a high-quality education. Thanks to YOUR support, they are provided with the same amazing education. 

Your students are also excited to begin using the Dining and Multipurpose Hall building that was just completed. This building will be the heart of the campus as a place for students and staff to eat and gather. It will also serve as the testing center for students who take their final exams while in grade S.4. The campus is getting closer to completion but is still in need of the Chemistry and Physics Labs plus other final touches like fencing off the school. 
Thank you for building your students in Uganda an amazing school that will change their lives!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Community Pillar

Jovia has experienced unimaginable loss in her life. She and her husband had seven children, all of whom died when they were very young. Her husband soon followed the children. Jovia found herself childless, widowed, and with virtually nothing. Even though she had few material possessions, Jovia realized that she still had a lot of love left in her heart. She decided to share this love by opening her home to orphaned children. Over the years, Jovia has raised six children, none of whom were related to her. While life hasn’t always been easy for her and her grandchildren, your support has given Jovia the resources she needs to survive and raise her newfound family. 
Although Jovia doesn’t have a formal education, she is a very smart and savvy woman. She learned as much as possible about business from her late husband, but she lacked the resources needed to provide her own income when he passed away. Fortunately, she joined a Nyaka Granny Group, and through Nyaka’s microfinance program she was able to borrow money to open her own retail shop. The shop started small, but Jovia has been able to grow and expand it over the years.
Today, Jovia is 75 years old and the proud owner of a successful shop in her village. Because of your support, she sells items such as salt, soaps, beans, maize flour, millet, cooking oil, matches, sugar, sandals, onions, soft drinks and sugar cane, generating enough income to allow her to provide a good life for her family. Jovia is just one of the many grandmothers who you have supported through Nyaka. These women are strong, capable, and improving their lives, thanks to you. These women are the pillars of their communities and Jovia is but one of the many special women whose life YOU have turned around. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greetings from your children and grandmothers in Uganda!

Thank YOU for making 2017 an amazing year. Your love and support changed many lives!

YOU sent 754 children to school! The Primary 7 students graduated and will be joining secondary school at NVSS next week - they can’t wait.

YOU built 17 homes, 25 kitchens, and 25 latrines for grandmothers, while also providing over 7,000 grandmothers with trainings, counseling, and microfinance loans!

YOU gave more community members access to medical care than ever before and continued to provide clean water in the community and access to libraries! 

Now, YOU will be sending 60 new nursery children to school on February 5th! 

Thank you!