Exciting news! Lufingo Ward has completed the Africa Bridge five-year sustainable development program!
Our program aims to help vulnerable children and their villages overcome dire poverty by developing and implementing sustainable, volunteer-based social service and economic development solutions. The unique five-year program partners with villagers beginning with a Future Search process to identify the most vulnerable children and develop care plans for them, establish farm co-ops to produce household income, and deliver training that advances the future of the entire community. This model builds community self-sufficiency.
In 2013, Africa Bridge started services in the Lufingo Ward which is comprised of seven villages – Lugombo, Iponjola, Ilalabwe, Kalalo, Kagwina, Simike, and Itete. After conducting our community assessment surveys, well-being and the transect walk, the community needs were clear. The most pressing needs brought up by the community members were:
- Child and household vulnerability due to poverty and HIV/AIDS,
- Subsistence farming due to lack of capital, modern inputs and technical knowledge,
- Barriers to school attendance due to poverty, weak village institutions, leadership and resources.
We had our work cut out for us. To address these issues, Africa Bridge implemented sustainable support services for the Most Vulnerable Children (MVCs), farm cooperatives to empower economic stability, and community capacity enhancement through farm cooperatives, education grants, training and mentoring. Some successes of the program include the cow co-op, which provides sustenance, economic independence, and social capital.
In Lufingo we focused on the children through our Community Cares Clubs. We listened to the children, their guardians and village leaders to develop and implement community-based, sustainable social service and economic solutions that alleviate poverty and achieve lasting change. The program was rooted in local values, engaging games, and lessons for the children each month. We were able to serve 1,362 children over the five years addressing concerns of poverty, education inequities, and social insecurities, and positive health practices. Each of those children were provided school uniforms, exercise books, shoes, books, pens, pencils and rulers to help with their education. Africa Bridge staff also involved the most vulnerable children’s guardians in committee meetings learning how to best support their children. These committees gave women increased access to leadership opportunities within the community!
Another way Africa Bridge supported the most vulnerable children’s households was through farming co-ops. The avocado co-op has flourished as well, 14,000 seedlings were delivered to 140 Most Vulnerable Children’s households and 9,892 avocado trees flourished. Avocado growers in Lufingo are now managing credit and savings groups and are practicing internal lending. All avocado growers have been trained on the general management of avocado trees, including pruning, controlling insects, taking care of flowers and fruits and applying fertilizers.
In addition to the avocado co-ops, the cow co-op boasted 248 members at the end of 2017. Within one year 47 calves were born co-op members, then gifted to new cow co-op members to begin their farming cooperative. Chicken co-ops were also successfully implemented, with 267 chickens born in just one year! All co-op members attended monthly agricultural trainings, economic trainings, and mentoring trainings with Africa Bridge staff and community partners. This co-op program helped empower the most vulnerable children’s guardians, families and villages to achieve and sustain economic independence. Leading to more stable income, allowing for children to stay in school longer.
Over the five years of service in the Lufingo Ward 2,182 1,362 (children + 820 guardians) people were positively impacted by Africa Bridge! After the five years we now know more households have sustainable incomes, more children are attending primary school, families are eating more than one meal per day, and less children are sleeping on dirt floors!