A Training Program Changes Lives in Uganda

August 30, 2017 • Uganda
Pulukol Jojo and Samaritan's Purse Health Supervisor Mercy Sharon Apio.
Pulukol Jojo and Samaritan's Purse Health Supervisor Mercy Sharon Apio.

Mothers in local Ugandan communities see positive changes through a training on health and hygiene.

Karamoja is an unforgiving place. Located in northern Uganda, dry creek beds dot the landscape and vegetation is scarce.

An aerial view of settlements in Karamoja.

An aerial view of settlements in Karamoja.

Nevertheless, many families try to cultivate the land or gather firewood and charcoal, which can provide them with a small profit if sold in the local market. Most communities are illiterate and have limited resources. The work to prepare the soil for planting is backbreaking, and the results are often disappointing.

Decades of superstition and tribal tradition have largely trapped the people in a cycle of seemingly endless poverty.

But now things are beginning to change for some. Samaritan’s Purse is helping the mothers of Karamoja by providing literacy, hygiene, financial, and health training to local communities. These trainings, based on Biblical foundations and often including Bible stories, help the women bring positive change to their communities.

A Newfound Confidence

This year has been difficult for 50-year-old Pulukol Jojo, a woman who lives in a remote community located at the base of Mount Moroto in Karamoja. A widowed mother with four children, her son died earlier this after he fell out of a tree. A month’s long drought has made finding food and water for her family a daily challenge.

It is a hard life, but the training she has received with Samaritan’s Purse has improved the health of her family.

“I’ve seen a change,” she said. “My children don’t get sick anymore. They look healthy.”

Pulukol was helping care for her great-niece since her mother is currently ill.

Pulukol was helping care for her great-niece since her mother is currently ill.

In the training, mothers learn about how to identify malnutrition, properly prepare food, correctly use mosquito nets to prevent malaria, identify warning signs during pregnancy, and encourage women to deliver in a hospital. The women then share that information with others in their village, becoming local leaders in the community.

“I monitor and watch the pregnant women,” she said. “I make sure that they get to the hospital and tell them about health issues.”

Though some in the community have been resistant, people are coming around to the new ideas.

“People are ignorant, but now they are starting to respond,” Pulukol said.

Pulukol appreciates the opportunity to educate others in her community about health and hygiene related issues, while also learning how to read and better manage her finances.

A Strong Foundation

In another rural community, on the other side of Mount Moroto, the program is just getting started and it has already had a great impact in the community.

“We used to sacrifice an animal instead of taking our children to the health clinic,” Kidon Nakiru said.

The training the mothers receive also includes literacy and finance. Kidon is in charge of the key to the local money box, which the women use to provide small loans to other community members.

Kidon Nakiru with the community safe key securely around her neck.

Kidon Nakiru with the community safe key securely around her neck.

“I take good care of the money,” she said. “There is much hunger here. It is hard to get money for the sales so I do have the opportunity to use some money to support my family from the group.”

Though most of the community goes to church, traditional religious beliefs also play a strong role in these communities. They continue to pray to their ancestors and practice polygamy.

“They really do their own kind of thing,” Samaritan’s Purse Health Supervisor Mercy Sharon Apio said. “They really need a lot of help.”

That is why at every opportunity the Gospel is shared with the women in hopes that heart change will occur. Please pray for continued physical and spiritual change in Uganda.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12, NKJV).

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