In Uganda, where the educational background is important for employment, many youth fail to get a regular job because they cannot receive higher education or vocational training. The reasons behind this vary, such as financial constraints, parents' health issues, and their lack of understanding of education. When such young people have a child, they also cannot provide their children with education. Therefore, the SMILE project adopts four approaches for HIV-positive single parents with children to tackle the intergenerational cycle of poverty. The first approach is agriculture training, which helps parents acquire agricultural skills so that they can make a living and get enough food. The second approach is training for improving adherence, which provides them with appropriate knowledge about HIV and its treatment. The third approach is counseling to enhance parents' motivation and understanding of the children's education. The last approach is group saving. Helping parents regularly save money through group saving enables them to expand their possibilities, such as paying tuition fees for their children and covering their treatment costs.
Single parents became more positive, self-sufficient, and independent. One pillar of the SMILE project, training for improving adherence, successfully helped HIV-positive parents acquire essential knowledge and practices for treatment. They learned that if they take medicine properly, they can live well. By learning about HIV, they reduced their stigma toward their disease and gained positive attitudes to improve their treatment environment. Some parents also learned to pay attention to their diets, and others learned to carry their medical records with them in case of emergency. Through agricultural training, all parents succeeded in selling their vegetables, and most of them could consume their crops at home. Besides, all of them were able to save money, and many have started to plan their expenditures. These achievements are also important for treating HIV because taking medicine for HIV requires a decent and regular diet. At the end of all the training and counseling, one mother shared her goal of becoming a doctor, saying that if she can become a doctor, she can treat her grandfather and family members.
BRIGHT project provides technical training for HIV-positive youth unemployed because of a lack of educational background. After the training, youth make groups and run small businesses in each area, such as starting a hair salon. The business is set up based on the youth’s motivation and local needs. Also, as part of the training, the BRIGHT project covers such topics as the prevention of infectious diseases to help them live healthy lives.
Two young mothers’ earnest efforts gained local people’s trust. In the BRIGHT project, youth learn four skills, paper bag making, snack making, nail art, and hairdressing. After learning the skills, they open a temporary shop at home or on the street to earn money while improving their skills. Mothers in Luwero sold some snacks and vegetables. Penelope and Solome, single mothers with two children, were trying hard in the BRIGHT project. They said, “I like technical training because I can learn a lot of new things.” or “I enjoyed the training of nail art because I realized that throughout the process, I could make completely different things.” They showed great effort and gained the trust of the local people. Joice and Angel are passionate about running their salon despite some challenges With the support of the BRIGHT project, including training and initial investment, two mothers started a salon. They currently cover all the expenses by themselves, trying to manage their shop independently. Of course, there are some challenges. For example, in the rainy season, they found it difficult to afford living costs, school fees, and rent because only three customers came. However, they are working hard to realize their dream of expanding their salon to start new services and add varieties of their services. They make the most of the hairdressing skills that they acquired through the training in the BRIGHT project and said with confidence that they love their salon.
The CAFE project aims to improve the livelihood of HIV-positive single mothers who raise children by helping them start and run their cafes. It provides mothers with training for acquiring essential skills such as cooking, customer service, hygiene, and business management. It also offers the necessary equipment, including dishes, tables, refrigerators, and ovens. After they open their cafes, we continue to support them until they get their businesses on track. These small businesses allow single mothers to make a living by themselves and send their children to school. One feature of this project is a system called cost sharing. Though we invest in some equipment at the early stage, through a cost-sharing system, mothers return a part of the funds once they can earn money by selling on the street. This system encourages them to nurture their ownership of the materials they were provided initially.
From classroom lectures to launching their cafe In the CAFE project, mothers first learned basic knowledge about running a cafe. Lectures were sometimes hard and tiring for mothers. However, by giving each of them a role, such as entertainment and cleaning, they responsibly participated in the lecture and learned hygiene management, how to deal with complaints, and how to manage income and expenditure. After the lecture, mothers learned how to make some snacks such as donuts, Samsas, and cakes. The office was filled with a good, sweet smell. After all the practices, mothers made snacks and sold them using a table, three chairs, and a parasol, where they were asked to decide the kind and amount of snacks they made by themselves. Finally, they also started preparing to open their cafe. Mothers looked for a good site for their business while selling snacks on the street. Finding the best place took about 2-3 months because they needed to consider various conditions such as distance from the center and rent. Mothers full of confidence at the handover ceremony Mothers who completed the CAFE project were excited and well-prepared for the ceremony, wearing makeup and cooking special dishes. They were proud of themselves at the ceremony and shared their feelings. "Before I participated in the CAFE project, I had nothing. Now, I have CAFE, and I can earn money. I really appreciate the PLAS staff's kindness toward children. I promise to continue working hard." "Now I look cool and better, am I? Now I can pay the house rent I could not afford before. I am really, really grateful." "My husband left, but I have children, and we had no food. It was so hard. Now, I have income. I can buy essential daily necessities and food and send my children to school. "
Since HIV-positive single parents often have difficulty paying school fees and their children are sent back from school, the SHINE project aims to help improve their livelihoods by helping them form a group to rent land and start agriculture. Also, for HIV-positive mothers, maintaining their health is important. Growing some native vegetables by themselves enables them not only to eat nutritious food but also to reduce their food expenditure and earn some money by selling the rest. As most of the mothers are beginners in agriculture, the SHINE project supports all the processes, from introductory lectures on agriculture to follow-up support after they start growing vegetables.
Mothers are now able to plan a balanced meal! In the training series, mothers learned three essential nutrients and how to make a balanced meal. In the last training session, mothers were asked to draw “a balanced lunch.” One of the beneficiaries, Aisha, drew greens, which included vitamins, posho, which is made of corn flour, beans stew, and a glass of water. Even though they had not learned about nutrition before participating in the SHINE project, the lunch she described showed her great progress in planning a balanced meal. Many mothers participating in this project eat vegetables they grow on their own, so it is more realistic to get protein from beans rather than from meat or fish. Mothers learned such tips for having a balanced diet with what they can get in the area. Similarly, in training for growing vegetables, they also learned how to make fertilizer with what they could get easily to reduce the cost. The SHINE project carefully pays attention to how they can independently continue growing vegetables in the future.