Sustainable, Accountable, Empowering
In 2015, Cosma Foundation is continuing to focus on projects such as sending 50 kids to school, providing counseling, the pen pal program, community empowerment, and income generation activities. The Foundation has also introduced new programs like saving groups, youth empowerment, and environmental conservation.
All 50 students were able to acquire scholastic material at the beginning of the first term to attend school. The four candidates who sat the senior four and senior six exams last year in 2014 all passed and received good grades. Two joined senior five and two will be enrolled in University in August of this year.
Dennis, the first Cosma beneficiary, is in second year at his college doing clinical medicine. He is very happy with his course and is doing it very well. Last semester, he got eighth position out of 140 students in his class with a GPA of 4.2.[ Genial Progressive Analysis]. This semester, Dennis is working hard to perform well in microbiology, pharmacology, and epidemiology and is hoping to achieve the best results at the end of semester.
His life has really changed since he joined the course/ university in that he has been able to explore his leadership skills at university as vice guild president of
the university, chairperson writer’s club and chairperson disciplinary committee. His course is left with two and half years and he never dreamed that one time he could have a smile on his face like now if he reflected on his life’s back ground!
The smile on his face has given him confidence and hope to achieve his dream of becoming a clinical officer in the next 2 years and half. Vote of thanks goes to AHN for the great impact made in the lives of Dennis’ life to date to the extent of forgetting all the passed hardships in his life!
Thanks goes to all donors like AHN, Bag Full Of Stuff, Uganda Hope Network, Wishire Baptist church, and individual supporters who work tirelessly to support the lives of Cosma kids by paying for their school fees and school supplies.
Pen Pal Program
The Cosma kids exchanged letters with their friends from the Wilshire Baptist Church USA! The program has grown to now involve 99 children from each side. The program has improved the students’ writing skills, strengthened intercultural exchanges, and created a strong friendship between the Cosma kids and their pen pals in America.
Adolescent Cosma girls after counseling from area nurse received modern sanitary pads
One of the biggest challenges for adolescent girls in schools is the lack of sanitary pads during their monthly periods. In a counseling session held for Cosma girls, they were taught how to use modern sanitary pads made possible through a one-year donation from a friend of the Cosma Foundation named Suzan Hennessey. During their monthly periods, most of the girls miss a class, which affects their academic performance. Additionally, during this time they are susceptible to infection, which can affect their health. We believe that this generous donation will enable Cosma girls to attend classes regularly, thus improving their academic performance.
Kiza practices in our tailoring room.
A vocational training system is one of the models that Cosma is adopting, with support from the Ministry of Education. The objective is to combat growing unemployment in Uganda.
Cosma Foundation provides these services to students who do not perform as well academically as others, as well as to those who do not continue on to university after completing secondary school.
Cosma Foundation started this program last year. Two people have graduated so far, one in motorcycle mechanics and the other in tailoring. Kiza George is one of the beneficiaries of the program this year. Previously, he was struggling with academics in class. After completing Senior 4, he decided to join our tailoring skills vocational training. He was admitted to Kitovu Vocational Institute and now learns practical life skills.
In the meeting that Cosma held with farmers to assess the impact of Agriculture project, the statistics indicate that, the production increased from about 6 bags to 20 bags on average compared to previous seasons of which they have been able to support at least two non- Cosma students to attend primary school this year 2015 as well as save extra money for other emergency problems. They still look forward to get more training to improve their production in future.
The project started with 15 families in 2013 and has expanded to 32 families. Below is one of the families that has benefited from the program over the past two years.
Kitakule’s family of 12 children
Ssalongo Kitakule is one of the non-Cosma families that participated in Agriculture program. Before he joined the program, he planted local seeds on 3 acres of land. From these 3 acres of land, he used to harvest 7-9 bags of maize, totaling 900 kilograms. This production only provided enough money to send one kid to school.
But, after beginning involvement in the Cosma program and planting improved seeds, his field yield increased. Last season, he harvested 16 bags of maize totaling 1600 kilograms from the same piece of land. This year, he was able to send three kids to school because of this increased revenue. He sold 600 kilograms at 420 shillings per kilo before harvesting. Unfortunately, after one month, the prices raised up to 800 shillings per kilo after harvesting.
He explained that: “Among the challenges I face as farmer is finishing capital, I normally get money from the buyers at low cost when I have not yet harvested my produce because I want to clear debts I incur in course of the season.”
Cosma with some farmers like Kitakule has an idea of reserving emergency money for farmers that could help them buy additional improved seeds and other required planting materials early in the season. Later, after farmers sell their products at high prices, farmers could then pay the money they borrowed back to Cosma. “I appreciate Cosma Foundation for changing the lives of my family and other my fellow farmers in the community. I am happy to see that I can support my 3 kids at school, out the 12 kids I have in my family, as well as save some money for supporting other family needs!” said Ssalongo Kitakule.
Another main challenge that farmers encounter is paying debts. People normally sell their produce before harvest because they want to repay debts they incurred throughout the course of the season. For example, this season, some farmers sold their produce from the garden at 350 per kilo of maize but after harvesting, each kilogram was at 800 per kilogram. This means that farmers had a loss of 450 per kilogram. Cosma Foundation is encouraging families/ farmers to set up saving groups where they could run for financial help before harvesting.
Other challenges include long term drought and the lack of a place to keep their produce from spoiling as they look for good markets. The Foundation developed tree planting campaign to protect the environment as we solve long term drought that has come as resulting of cutting trees/ forests in the community as well as networking with external friends and organizations to set up modern storage for the Agricultural produce as they wait for the good market.
Under the Agriculture program, farmers decided to start a saving group program among them. Every month a group of 15 farmers are working towards saving 3000 UGX from each member to their local account. Cosma provides guidance to the farmers. Because the farmers do not have access to formal banking institutions, this program is deeply useful in emergency situations of financial hardship. They have a safe place to save their money, and they can borrow from the savings when they face challenges.
The farmers aim to buy a maize milling plant machine to promote income generation as well as create other income generating projects like a pigger
y, or poultry (since they will be getting free maize brand from their own milling plant machine). Finally, they want to help non-members access services at low cost and create employment opportunities among the youth in the community.
Environmental conservation under Agriculture program
Workshop before tree planting campaign in Ssembabule.
Ssembabule district is in the middle of the Ankole Masaka dry cattle corridor in Uganda and experiences two serious dry seasons in the year: Jan-March and June-October. Farmers and cattle keepers are most affected. There is a scarcity of food for both commercial and domestic consumption. The dry season makes it difficult for people from the district to get access to clean water from boreholes. Instead, they get dirty water from dams that are being used by cattle keepers to feed the animals.
Along with poor access to water, there is a lot of deforestation. People have encroached on the wetlands and failed to re-plant trees they have uprooted in the district. Planting trees and rehabilitating the environment would support agriculture, reduce the high death of animals during the dry season, and make it easier for people to access water in their respective areas in the district.
The RDC Residential district commissioner with aspiring Member of Parliament officiated the campaign.
So far, 105 shade trees have been planted in Mateete town. Next, we’ll plant shade and fruit trees around the school to create a conducive environment for study and nutrition. The campaign will go over the families supported by Cosma Foundation and non cosma families in Ssembabule district. The Foundation is encouraging families to plant fruit trees in their gardens to increase household income. By research done by the Foundation team, it states that, one mango tree could yield 500 mangoes at one season then in a year a family will expect to get 1000 mangoes for two seasons of which each mango average is costing 1500 UGX. Cosma Foundation is the only community-based organization working in Ssembabule district that has developed an environmental protection plan based on planting trees in towns, schools and in family gardens.
Youth Empowerment program
Cosma director had a meeting with graduated youth.Unemployment among university or secondary graduates is very high in Uganda. As Cosma has been supporting several kids in university and many Cosma students are getting close to university age, we have decided to develop an entrepreneurship curriculum to support both Cosma and non-Cosma youths. In this program, we train them to be job creators rather than job seekers and inform them of the skills to start small businesses after graduation.
Cosma Director visited Jane’s family.
Over the school term, the Cosma team normally conducts family visits to identify challenges the community faces and look for solutions. We also measure the impact made by the Cosma Foundation in the community.
The Director visited the family of a child named Jane Nakabugo who was sick of head circumference disease (macrocephaly). Her mother Nakate Gertrude is so grateful to the Cosma Foundation for saving the life of this young child. Jane can now walk and is expected to begin school next year. Jane and her mother donated eggs to the Director as gift of appreciation for Cosma’s help while Jane was sick. Now everyone in the family has a smile on their face whenever they see Jane, who is healthy now!
Cosma’s piggery farm has made a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable families in the community. This project helps families learn skills that enable them to established their own farm as a group. This helps families expand their household income and therefore support other kids who are not involved in the Cosma program. The group of Nankubuge Teddy and Manku Rose’s families started with three pigs and now have five! The two families plan to pay for two other kids’ school fees through the revenue they will receive from selling young piglets in future.
Nankubuge Teddy and Manku Rose
UHN Educational Trip
UHN team visit.
It is always a learning experience for the Cosma Foundation to host visitors from the United States of America! The Uganda Hope Network students from Yale University visited Cosma Foundation on March 16, 2015, and they learned a lot about Cosma’s projects and about life in the Ssembabule district.
Dr.Sister Asumputa was receiving a donation of medical supplies.
The Yale students donated medical supplies to Cosma Foundation and Cosma gave those donations to Katimba, one of the partner health centers where we normally take the kids when they fall sick.
Thanks go to all members, as well as the leaders who brought the group to Cosma.
Thank you all for your continued support towards Cosma projects over the years! Your donations are the key for the growth of the Foundation to another level. Please visit http://www.cosmafoundation.org for more information or at http://www.africanhopenetwork.org/donate. Or, feel free to contact Joan Gass, Executive Director for African Hope Network USA, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Always in service,
Director, Cosma Foundation.