Our six Development Projects
Education is not the only thing we do, have a look at our additional projects benefiting all children and their whole community!
1.Small business & micro loans Project
In Uganda, there are two areas which we focus on. Danida, in the province of Jinja, is one of the poorest regions in the country, and the Acholi Quarter in Kampala, where many people live on only $1 a day. To help with this crisis, our partners at Entrepreneurs Hand Uganda (EHU) conducted various interviews and training sessions with the people of our 22STARS group in both Jinja and Kampala.
We could see different challenges that were impeding the growth of their business, such as illiteracy, poor time management and a negative outlook regarding business growth. Many of the attendees were also concerned with sharing their difficulties in running a business, even though the group could help to find solutions.
In 2017, 22STARS partnered with EHU, to give Community Entrepreneurship training to the families of our 22STARS children in the Danida Area of Jinja and the Acholi Quarter in Kampala. The families first received an intensive four week training from EHU. Together with EHU we created in-depth personal profiles for each participant to see how we could help them the most. We then gave the participants small loans, set up a saving system, and monitored their progress.The most common small businesses our beneficiaries started were: food stalls, hospitality, clothing (tailoring and thrift stores), and local transport (mototaxi).
Alongside the small business program, we also empower 42 women through our 22STARS jewellery project. However, as jewellery production is dependent on the demand from the Western market, our women do this only on an order basis and we encourage them to run their own locally based businesses. If you would like to know more about how your jewellery purchase helps the women and children, check out our artisan page.
Lasting growth depends on the empowerment of communities through education, skill-building, control of natural resources, and effective interaction with society and their governments . The best way to move forward is to ensure that the families of the children we work with can become self-sustainable. Availability of small, but repeated loans is, in the long-term, expected to positively impact their poverty.
We provided interest-free loans to 64 people of our 22STARS group to enable them to initiate and grow their business ideas and micro enterprises. The first round was successful and the beneficiaries could pay back the loan and saw their businesses grow.
Among the communities we work with, there are many issues which heavily impact the quality of everyday life. One of the most devastating challenges that our communities face is climate change and its effects on farming and food security. Over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the frequency of droughts which has led to a rise in food prices, making it even more difficult for families to feed themselves.
Hence many of the children we work with face serious malnutrition. Many children of the 22STARS foundation eat only posho - a type of cornmeal porridge - and beans. If they are lucky they might have a meal with meat once a year. Families often struggle to have enough food on the table, especially during the dry season when crops may fail and food prices rise. It is also challenging for the foundation to visit all the children and evaluate their wellbeing as they are spread out throughout the whole community.
Since October 2016, we have been providing the sponsored children from the 22STARS foundation with a hot meal every weekend. Starting with 60 children, we now provide meals to more than 350 children. We also provide basic ‘emergency’ meals for families who are in urgent need.
We would like to acknowledge the vital contribution of Alexander Schledewits to this project. Alexander first visited us in Uganda in 2017, and has since started the group Teller Für Teller where 50 of his friends gather together in order to make monthly donations to our foundation for the nutrition project. To date, we have supplied more than 45,000 meals. Every contribution can make a significant difference as on average a meal costs just under one Euro.
Alongside providing the children with hot, nutritious food, the weekly meals also are a great social occasional for the children, giving them an opportunity to play and connect, and by buying our supplies locally we make sure that the donations are being reinvested into supporting the community as a whole.
3.Eye- and Health Care Project
According to WHO’s 2011 report every five seconds a person goes blind. The overwhelming majority of these visual impairments are avoidable, however in developing countries such as Uganda, treatment may be unattainable due to poverty or a lack of access to medical facilities. Visual impairments severely impact personal safety and contribute to the perpetuation of the cycle of poverty, thereby affecting the overall potential of the economy. Uganda has a scarcity of trained eye care professionals available to provide accessible care and this negatively impacts an adult’s capacity to earn and a child’s capacity to learn.
Optometry has the capacity to change the eye-care landscape of Uganda. This profession is very young in Uganda, emerging over the last three years since the initiation of the optometry program at Makerere University in 2013. Unfortunately, for many children in Uganda it is not as simple as heading to the optometrist and getting a prescription for glasses. A simple screening and treatment can cost more than 100 US dollars, which is unaffordable for many.
Our eye-care and health program covers a range of issues related to the health of the families and the communities that we work with. We pay the medical bills for children whose situation is life threatening, and whose parents are unable to pay. The majority of the time, these illnesses relate to malaria.
Under this health program, we have also set up the Eye Health Program. Several times a year, we bring children and their families to the local hospitals and opticians to get their eyesight checked and pay for any prescriptions where needed.
Our main sponsor for our Eye Program comes from Walzer Opticians in Isny, Germany, and his non-profit organisation 'Wir Helfen Sehen'. Early eye examinations are crucial to making sure children have normal, healthy vision, and it leads to early detection of any problems which can be more easily treated among children than adults. Treating vision problems is absolutely essential for the education of our children, as it ensures they are able to clearly see the board and their notebook at school, as well as to play and enjoy themselves.
Together with our 22STARS team and local opticians, Walzer tested the eyesight of all the children in Daystar and St. Matia, two schools many of our children attend. Afterwards, 70 people were sent to an Ugandan eye doctor where they received further treatment. 50 pairs of reading glasses were handed out to the elderly, and 20 pairs of protective goggles were provided for the people working in the quarry.
For a country where the average monthly income is $40, a pair of glasses that costs $100 is simply unaffordable and even malaria treatment of $15 is a big burden on the families, and often unavailable. Our program helps make this necessary healthcare accessible not only financially, but also through education and getting professional medical care into these poorer districts.
Our future plan is to look for collaborations with Ugandan organisations who could provide us with accessible eye care and affordable glasses. Our plan is to raise additional funds to check the eyes of more children and families living in the community where 22STARS operates. We want to perform eye exams with a professional optometrist, and provide prescription glasses for patients who do not have access to proper medical services and eye surgery. We also want to promote blindness prevention and eye health programs in the local communities.
4. Basic Needs Project
Among the communities we work with, there are many issues which heavily impact the quality of day to day life. Besides food scarcity there is a high population growth rate. This negatively affects living standards as it can lead to urban slums; increased disputes over land ownership; and tribalism and nepotism within businesses (where people are employed based on their membership of a particular tribe rather than on merit.).
Due to this, many of our sponsored children would, for example, sleep on a cold floor at night. Due to getting bad sleep, their school performance starts to decline. Many children may also not have access to clean clothes and their hygiene may be poor because of this.
At 22STARS, we are trying to tackle the basic needs of the people in the communities we work in. We identify what projects are necessary by conducting a needs-based assessment that takes into consideration the priorities and goals defined by the community itself. These initiatives include: distributing mosquito nets, beds, mattresses, clothes, water filters and medical treatment. In the case of farmers, we also buy animals, such as chickens and goats, which provide a sustainable income through eggs and milk, to improve their quality of life.
Our goal is that our families meet their basic needs and become more resilient in the face of external shocks and stresses, and progressively less dependent upon external support (or if they are, that this support itself is economically and institutionally sustainable). Our goal is also that they are able to maintain the long-term productivity of natural resources, and that they do not undermine the livelihoods of others.
5. After school project
Many of our children were only able to start school once they received sponsorship. This means that many started school later and were not used to the school system. For this reason, our children usually have some initial difficulties in the first few years, particularly in terms of academic performance. However we try the best we can to help them improve over time. This initial difficulty is compounded by the fact that many of the children are orphans, and almost all of them come from a family (or caretakers) who are illiterate, and cannot help them with their school work.
The After School Program is a very important part of our project as it is key to supporting children who are struggling and not realising their full potential. Thanks to this holistic educational program, we focus not only on the improvement of their academic performance, but also on their happiness and overall well-being. We make sure that the children come together at least once a week to socialise; we hold parent-teacher conferences to keep the parents informed of the successes and struggles of their children; and we also provide extra lessons during holidays and weekends to help the children keep up with school. We also hold extra-curricular activities, such as sports days, painting, dancing and health classes. As our group has grown to over 300 children, we need more funding to run this program full-time and as efficiently as possible. For this reason, your donation is highly appreciated. Please also consider the possibility of becoming a monthly donor!
Numerous studies have shown that youth living in poverty are at a significantly higher risk of academic struggle and face a higher drop-out rate. However, students who participate in after-school programs have a higher chance of not dropping out from school and successfully graduating. After-school programs like ours, help students to build a stronger sense of belonging, and improve social skills.
6. Education project
At our 22STARS projects in Uganda, this is the sad truth for many parents and children. Twenty years of civil war took a heavy toll on the Ugandan people. The parents of the 22STARS children fled from northern Uganda to Kampala, the capital, where they sought refuge from the war of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). They settled in "Acholi Quarter" - an Internally Displaced Camp - and ended up living in an area centred around several stone quarries. Even children as young as 3 years old, have to work, crushing stones, to earn money for food. Although there is now peace in Uganda, the battle against poverty in Acholi Quarters continues. Many more refugees from Sudan and Congo have also settled there. In addition many people went to Danida, one of the poorest areas in Jinja, where our second 22STARS project is located.80% of the children that we are sponsoring in Acholi Quarters were sitting in this stone quarry, like Olivia, the girl in the green T-shirt. Thanks to people like you we were able to save more than 200 kids! The children next to Olivia are still looking for a sponsor to start finally school. This situation is unbelievable, but true. I took these pictures myself and I am about 4 months a year at this place. The kids come often to our office asking me whether we can also help them and we give them the little we have. It breaks my heart to send them away, but I know that we will get over time more and more children out there into school!
Sending children to school through long-term sponsorships. So that a child will not be send for just one year to school, but longer. We hence really try to motivate the sponsors to conitnue their sponsorship until the child finishes school. In addition we have a safety net for the children, that in case the sponsor drops out they are not been send back home, but can continue school until they find a new sponsor.
Besides that the child learns how to read and write and all the basic school stuff, a child also receives meals at the schools and their whole happiness and well-being increases. We make sure that the kids come together at least once a week, we hold parent conferences to also educate the parents of their plights, and we give kids extra lessons during holidays and weekends. Moreover, we give the kids extra classes on weekends and holidays, so that they can keep up with school. We also hold extra- curricular activities, such as sports, painting, dancing, health, education, and we are holding parent conferences to include them in the education of their children.
We want a better future for these children and their communities, and for that they need education. Once they are doctors, engineers, teachers or whatever their dream is, they will become change-makers and able to give back to their community. Educating children will help pull families, and perhaps even the whole country, out of the poverty cycle. Helping a child complete their schooling will double the likelihood that they will send their own children to school! By keeping girls in school, the rates of child marriage and teen pregnancy significantly decrease. In addition to sending the kids to school we run several community projects that benefit these children and their families.