Monday, April 18, 2011


By Senfuka Samuel
Project Officer, WRA Uganda

A section of participants during the sharing meeting at Buziga Country Resort
One of the powerful aspects which keep alliances vibrant, growing and strong is networking, sharing, and learning from one another hence breaking down isolation and creating principled solidarity. In January 2011, WRA Uganda had a unique opportunity of hosting two different organizations in the pursuit of working closely together to exchange information and experiences, share problems and challenges and co-operates to find workable solutions and engage in common actions for safe motherhood.
On 23rd January 2011 WRA Kenya visited WRA Uganda for an opportunity to share experiences and learn from WRA Uganda engagement of the youth in contributing towards improving maternal and neonatal health. The WRA Kenya team was led by Ms Angela Nguku, Founder and National Coordinator in company of two youthful maternal health champions from Nairobi. Mr. Kazungu Matano and Mr. Phelix Odiwuor. The youth champions are both celebrities/popular figures in Kenya in the area of comedy, Radio and TV presentation.

The visit gave a platform for the Ugandan youth to share their experiences about activities and strategies they have been involved in to promote safe motherhood. These majorly included Convoy to Kampala, East African Caravan and the Pre- African Union Youth Summit, Young Maternal Health Advocates competition. The youth shared their experiences, successes, challenges and lessons learnt from these activities and strategies employed such as the media, music, dance and drama, poetry, mock debate, video and film shows among others.

The youth testified that their involvement has not only contributed to improving maternal health but also impacted on their lives individually in terms of building their confidence to communicate and advocate, learnt new life skills like dance and drama. “My first experience with WRA Uganda was to visit Kabale district because I had never gone to the place before. But when I reached Kabale things changed and felt touched by what I found women going through and this changed my mind,” shared Gertrude Kayaga, a youth member. Gertrude further added that she was very poor at dance and drama, but greatly improved by learning from her colleagues. “I have learnt how to advocate and present myself. My involvement as a youth has enabled me to meet people I wouldn’t have ever met in life,” she excitedly shared.

On the other hand, Mr. Felix shared that he pondered when he was chosen to be a maternal health champion. “I did not realize its importance at first but later found that bringing men on board is strategic and has a great trickledown effect,” Said Felix. He promised to use the lessons learnt from Uganda youth convoy to organize a bigger one in Kenya.
Mr. Kazungu Matano added that they are planning to use their popularity to disseminate maternal health information through bill boards.

Angela noted that we need to make maternal health an East African agenda because the situation is worse across the region. WRA Kenya will invite WRA Uganda youth to share their experience in Kenya during their planned youth convoy because our mission is to unify different people for maternal health cause.
The biggest lesson learnt was in order to effectively engage the youth, it is important to reach them where they are. Taking activities to where they love such as beaches, schools and make events that appeal to them like music concerts, games, drama. This motivates them to keep them going and have fun.

Mr. Senfuka Samuel, Project Officer WRA Uganda in the closing remarks underscored harnessing the power of partnership as WRA family and reinforce one another. “We should continue to mobilize the power of partnership because the strength of the individual alliance may vary but our collective strengths is considerable,” Senfuka remarked.

In the same spirit WRA Uganda held a sharing meeting with KiBO Foundation. The meeting was held on 01st February 2011 at WRA Uganda offices with the aim of exploring ways of working together in promoting safe motherhood. KiBO Foundation is a social enterprise organization focusing on empowering the youth with various life skills and community service programmes. WRA Uganda together with the youth and KiBO Foundation proposed joint near future action plans to be considered and plan around them.

*      Exchange visit to KiBO Foundation
*      Charity sport games
*      Blood donations for mothers
*      Music dance and drama for maternal health
*      General cleaning of identified health facilities

Members pose for a group photo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WRA Uganda Youth Concert for Safe Motherhood Proves a Success!

By Nsinda Elman
WRA Uganda 2011

Its 11:00am 26th March 2011.Youth journey from their respective areas around Kampala to embrace the youth concert at Makerere Freedom Square which is 1kilometre west of the city center.
Every equipment necessary for the success of the concert is ready to do work: the cameras to capture, the stall for exhibition, Public Address system, stage, film screen for flashing of safe motherhood massages, tents are ready waiting for job and the whole place is decorated with WRA colors and massages. Security is tight- policewomen and men are on guard.
Gates are open at 12:00noon and activities like exhibition, registration of members start. The concert officially begins at 3:00pm with speeches introducing WRA and its overall objectives. The National and the university anthems are sung.

Performances commence amid youth flowing in bigger numbers; from one musician to a comedian and then to musician. The upcoming performers start and make the stage more fascinating for the viewers. One wonders whether they are up-coming; the performers sound as if they are genius!
The crowd cheers on and dance along to various songs and performances, some based on safe motherhood and others just entertaining the crowd on different social issues. WRA’s Musiima Hillary makes a tremendous performance as he sings safe motherhood songs and is joined by WRA-Uganda team dancing and singing along!
Quiz about Safe motherhood and crowd warming activities that keep them involved are conducted. Some participants answer questions and win prizes like tee shirts.
The Chief Guest; Mr. Mondo Kyateka, Commissioner for Youth and Child Affairs is also seen jigging!

Importantly, whoever comes on stage throws massages about safe motherhood! Regrets of 16 women dying every day in the country is heard throughout the concert with an emphasis that this is unacceptable.

Amidst amusement and cheers, organizing committee hands over a framed letter to the Chief Guest; Mr. Mondo Kyateka; asking him to deliver the contained message to parliamentarians to support safe motherhood initiatives, and also lobby  Government to increase funding to Maternal Health.
That was the mood in which the youth concert was conducted.
On handing over a letter to the Chief Guest, Mr. Mondo Kyateka pledged on behalf of government to do whatever it takes to support safe motherhood, and he promised to involve parliamentarians in promoting maternal and newborn health in the country.

A collective statement was printed on a banner workshop and signed by participants expressing the need for a change to promote maternal health in Uganda. The statement suggests that:
Our generation will not tolerate girls and women dying during pregnancy and childbirth.  Change starts now.  We will play our part to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to raise awareness in our communities and to encourage the girls and women to seek for skilled birth attendance”. The statement adds:  “With this we want our Government to ensure that every pregnant woman has access to skilled birth attendance; to fill the gap of 2,000 midwives and ensure that health workers are motivated and have the necessary supplies and equipment to provide essential care for women during pregnancy and childbirth; and to increase financial resources for health from current 9% of the National Budget to 15%”, as committed in the Abuja Declaration 2001.  

WRA worked with other organizations which provided services, HIV/AIDS voluntary Counseling and testing plus exhibition. These included Generation Free of HIV/AIDS club in Makerere, TASO Uganda, and Labor Ward foundation, Aids Information Centre and MJAB.
Other partners included radio stations like Capital FM, NBSt.v, and radio one which offered free and subsidized airtime for publicity.

Performances from big artistes like Bobi Wine, Navio, Michael Ross, Lillian and M.O.G among others left the youth speechless and demanding for more.  Youth were encouraged to work hand in hand with WRA to support safe motherhood and also to carry the message back to their friends and communities to make every one accountable for saving pregnant women and newborn babies.

   Mr. Bobi Wine performing during the concert

Other artistes that performed at the event include: CASTRO, BREAKDANCE PROJECT UGANDA, WRA-U DRAMA GROUP, STELLA MARIS, ETHEL (a midwife at Mulago Hospital and member of WRA), MAXI, CEASURAS and GERALD.
The concert was organized in a bid to: Increase public awareness and mobilize action for safe motherhood, Ignite action at the community, health service delivery and policy levels, Mobilize and energize the youth for safe motherhood and build alliance’s partnership with other stake organizations. 
Different messages on banners, flyers, and stickers, were distributed around secondary schools, universities, towns, public places, and also hanged around the venue whereas others were disseminated during the concert. Other items supplied at the venue were Tee shirts, Paper caps, Bandanas, Canvas Banner and Ribbons.

The concert left the youth speechless and demanding for more.  Youth were encouraged to work hand in hand with WRA to support safe motherhood and also to carry the message back to their friends and communities to make every one accountable for saving pregnant women and newborn babies. The event officially ended at 11:00pm.
The number of participants is estimated at 3000 beyond 1000 that had been targeted. About 600 new members were registered.
The Concert was organized by WRA Uganda in collaboration with the youth. Its success is attributed to team work, commitment and publicity strategies that proved effective when the youth turned up in big numbers.

Other Concert pictorials

Youth queuing at the WRA information desk to register as members and receive  messaging materials

L-R WRA youth Team franked by Ms Enid Mwebaza (WRA Board Secretary) handing a letter to Commissioner Mr. Mondo Kyateeka at Makerere Freedom Square on 26 March 2011

Above part of WRA Team that was handling the information and registration desk 

Joel and Bob who were MCs, doing what they do best on stage!
Above Mr. Navio's performing as the youth cheer and dance along
A fun joins Ms Lilian Mbabazi, one of artists at the dance flow
MOG (Man of God) all the way from Nigeria nearly cracked peoples ribs with his Nigerian music, dances punctuated by comedy