Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

The Chronicles of Uganda Autumn/Winter 2012 – 08.06 #7


POSTED 08.06.13 #7 (.. please scroll down for previous entries)

CCDO Pads for Girls Project

In November 2012, we began organizing another pads project for orphaned teen girls, this time in Buyobo, Uganda, for girls living with caregivers under the umbrella of CCDO.

Ten girls were quickly identified as wanting to participate in the project and a wonderfully gifted local seamstress and teacher, Phoebe, was hired to help facilitate it.

A special friend and donor from Australia, Simone Matthews, founder of Universal Life Tools, and author of ‘Shellah-Dreaming’, contacted LITA around the same time to say that she wanted to share a portion of her book sales towards projects for the children, so, we allocated her funds straight into the current pads project we were organizing.

Phoebe, the girl’s sewing teacher, lives in the community and was very happy to lead the girls in this project.
So excited to be learning a new skill, having fun learning how the machine works.. how to thread it, treadle it, and guide the direction of stitching using paper..

Simone’s donation helped to purchase two treadle sewing machines, thread, scissors, tape measures, a big bundle of paper that would act as the girl’s first ‘fabric’ to sew with, and all the fabric that the 10 girls used to complete the project.  You can support Simone by learning more about her novel ‘Shellah-Dreaming’ and purchasing it here.

After learning about sewing straight lines and then curves, the girls moved on to work with very inexpensive fabric (blue floral) and each sewed their first samples of a pad and liner.

Little Elena, a wanna be future seamstress, displays for us the teen girl’s amazing work with foot powered machine and paper..

Once this was learned, experienced and understood by all the teens, they began working with the very awesome thick, soft, absorbent fabric (plain blue) and thin plastic sheeting perfect for the project, that I had traveled to Kampala to purchase for them.

Empowerment Summary: After 3 weeks of full time classes, Mon to Fri, beginning each day once the girls had returned from early morning digging in their respective caregiver’s shamba (garden), and going until mid afternoon, the girls all successfully completed sewing at least 3 pads, with several liners per pad, for themselves. All the girls received a certificate for completing the course. Over the time, many, we noticed, also brought clothing from home that needed repair, continuing to practice and learn more about sewing in their spare time.

Eilzabeth shows us how it’s done!

With additional fabric and zippers that LITA supplied, the girls went on to sew several ‘school kit’ bags, sponsored by donors through our 2012 Holiday Season Empowering Gifts catalogue. Even though they were still learning, and Phoebe was teaching them all the while, LITA wanted to honour each girl for her extra time and labor, and paid 1000 shillings per bag, a little spending money for a treat. You can see the school kit bags and some of the children who were sponsored with them, below.

POSTED 07.06.13 #6 (.. please scroll down for previous entries)

CCDO Caregiver Families – Sylvia and Juliet

Carrying on from entries found below in this posting.. following Grandmother’s Rose and Elizabeth, the two remaining CCDO caregiver families we worked with this past journey are Juliet, a recently widowed single mother of two, who has taken in four orphaned children, and Sylvia and her partner, who have two children together and have also welcomed two orphaned brothers into their family.

Sylvia’s home, where she and her partner, their two children and the two orphaned children (pictured here) who they are Loving were all living when we first met.
The open front door of their new home, built alongside their former dwelling.

Both families were seen to be in great need of help with regards to their homes. As well, both required assistance with school supplies for the children of school age, beds and bedding for all the children, and start up capital for income generating activities. Very open and in depth discussions took place between CCDO Director Dan, the families, and LITA, particularly addressing the potential reactions of their surrounding community members and extended family members if they were to be helped with construction of

a new small home. After all angles were explored and shared about, and confident that our considerations had revealed a positive path forward for all, it was decided by all to work together and build the homes. Made possible by the amazing support offered by LITA contributors in Canada, the following was accomplished..

Empowerment Summary: A small, two room home to be made of bricks, with an iron sheet roof and metal doors and windows was designed. It was further amended to include a small room for food storage as both families are subsistence farmers. Materials and labor were estimated at around $3,500 per home. Juliet’s stakeholder contribution was to ferry the materials for the house to her compound, some distance from the road where they were dropped. Sylvia’s stakeholder contribution was aggregates (gravel) that her partner would hammer from rock for the foundation.

The larger interior room of the brick dwelling, the sleeping room.. adjacent is a smaller room, the living area that is entered into from the front door, with the food storage room at the end of it, by the back door.
Little darling Michael, hugging his new home!

Construction went along fabulously, each home being built at the same time.. one part of the process completed on one, then to the other to complete the same work, and so on. Dan, the Director of CCDO, acted as foreman and did a fantastic job keeping the sites on track, keeping great accountability books, and keeping everyone focused on the finish line. In near to 36 or so days, and just prior to my departure for Canada at end March, both homes were completed and everyone, including neighbours, celebrated this tremendously empowering moment in the lives of  both families.

Following construction, each family was supplied with bunk beds for all the children, blankets, mattresses, fitted sheets and mosquito nets. The school aged children in both families were also all supported with school kits (fabric book bags sewn by teens enrolled in our Pads for Girls project.. info about that project will be in the next entry..) filled with scribblers, pens/pencils, and math sets.

With $20 of start up capital LITA donors provided, Juliet expanded her home based business selling paraffin to include tea, sugar, soap, fresh veggies, fruit and other daily needs her neighbours can purchase from her.

Sylvia and her partner started a home based business selling matoke (green plantain type bananas that people make a traditional local dish with) with $20 of start up capital from LITA contributors.

Juliet with her youngest child, born three months before her husband passed. Proud, happy and so grateful, she is standing in her shop, her newly expanded home based business.
Sylvia and her husband, on their wedding day! Congratulations ~ Long may you live together in Peace, Joy and Love ~ Thank you for welcoming orphaned children into your family ~

And super exciting to share.. following all this grand empowerment in their lives, Sylvia and her partner were recently married! How beautiful!

POSTED 04.05.13 #5 (.. please scroll down for previous entries)

Angela’s Visit to Uganda

Early in the new year, Angela Beaumont, a delightful addition to LITA’s board in 2012, saw her two teenagers back to school, finished packing up a couple suitcases filled to the brim with medical supplies, special donations like red ball caps and backpack bags from friends, TJ and Teji Johal owners of Sports Unlimited in Surrey, along with various other requests from me, and climbed aboard the plane(s) that would bring her, some 30+ hours later, half way around the world to Uganda.

With Angela at ‘Chat n’ Chino’ in Mbale, Uganda, where we enjoyed ‘western’ items like papaya banana smoothies and avocado tomato wraps.. sooo fresh and yummy delicious!

For about 3 weeks she accompanied me as we carried on with the various Loveworks in progress. Angela has kindly given us a glimpse into what the journey was like for her in this wonderful entry she shares with us below..

Angela writes..

There are many experiences in life that will change you forever and Uganda was one of those. I had the opportunity to visit Uganda and work on our projects there this past January.  Since then, I have been asked what I saw and how I felt while over there.

I saw unnecessary suffering that so many of us can assist with. I was made aware of the healing power of a hug. Whether giving or receiving, expressing Love with a physical embrace is very comforting and healing. For the orphan children to know that they are Loved is so important. It gives them the confidence and the ability to believe that they have a future.

What I learned was that very little can go a long way in other countries. One day we found two children while walking on a trail.  They were obviously ill, so we took them to a see a doctor.  They were tested for malaria and given medicine for a staph infection.  In addition, one of them was given a general anesthetic, his infection drained and dressed for a week – all for only $8.00!  I will never forget that day – the kindness, gratitude, sharing the moment of giving and seeing healing take place on so many levels.

We are all one in Love. If more people here in North America knew of the acute suffering that is happening over there, and how easy and gratifying it is to help and make a difference, I am sure that more people would take advantage of the opportunity!.

I could spend the rest of my days walking those trails. In fact, I know that a large part of my life will be to continue down that path and provide Love, compassion and healing to empower children in need. We can all join together to make a difference.

Attached are a few of my favourite photos. Mostly of the beautiful children with their smiling faces. There is also a look at a homemade soccer ball.


POSTED 20.04.13 #4 (.. please scroll down for previous entries)

CCDO Caregiver Families – Grandmother Elizabeth

Further to the last entry below and also based on the information shared previously in ‘Introducing CCDO’, the one the only, very vibrant and wonderfully inspiring Grandmother Eilizabeth needed some help around her home where she raises two of her grandsons. At our first few meetings and in answer to our queries, Elizabeth shared that beds, bedding, clothing and school supplies for the boys were ways she could really use our support for her and the boys. In addition, we noticed that while the traditional mud/stick home they are living in is a good size and in fairly decent condition, it looked like some repairs might be needed, alongside her little list of items.

March 2013 – Grandmother Elizabeth kneels in gratitude and joy at the new wooden door to her home.
March 2013 – The new roof gleaming above.. hugging, dancing, saying “see you next time” as Grandmother Elizabeth and I bid farewell until her party later in the year!

Empowerment Summary: With generous financial help from donors in Canada, local roofers from the community were hired. As they began to take the old rusted and leaking iron sheets down it was soon realized that all the timbers making up the roof trusses were rotting and also needed to be replaced. Perfect timing, the roofers tore off all the timber, replaced it with new, and covered Grandmother’s roof with 24 shiny new corrugated iron sheets and caps, all in a day! Much to her complete joy, new wooden doors and window shutters were built locally and put on some days later and Grandmother’s very happy stakeholder contribution was the promise to re-mud the entire exterior of her home to seal it freshly once again and have it look “very smart”! We’re all invited to return for a party at Elizabeth’s further on in the year after the mudding has been completed! Without a doubt, how happy we will be to be there!

A new bunk bed was built by the local carpenter and delivered for the boys. New mattresses, sheets, blankets and mosquito nets for all were acquired, we helped the boys to each purchase a couple pairs of pant/shorts/shirts/t-shirts at the local market, and  school kits were provided to both with scribblers, pens, pencils, sharpeners and math sets. We also sponsored Gran with a solar lamp, capable of charging phones too, so a great contribution to savings on paraffin and the potential to earn a little income from charging other’s phones.. all very good!

On one of my last visits with Grandmother Elizabeth before I returned to Canada this time, there was a moment when, in all her gratitude and joy, she knelt in front of me taking my hands in hers. She stopped her usual joyful bantering and looked seriously into my eyes to say, “I have buried nine of my ten children and the last boy is sick from alcohol. But now, because of all this Love being shown to me, I feel like my life has begun again”. And then we hugged, and she gave me the precious gift of four fresh eggs. I wished that I could share those eggs with the generous contributors back in Canada.. pure treasures, indeed

March 2013 – Elizabeth and her two grandsons.. Life, as she says, has begun again because of Love.

POSTED 13.04.13 #3 (.. please scroll down for previous entries)

CCDO Caregiver Families – Grandmother Rose

In October of 2012 I posted an update titled “Introducing CCDO”. Please click here if you’d like to read it for more information about the foundation of LITA’s relationship with this community based organization that is caring for orphaned children in Buyobo, Uganda.

With dedicated financial support from of a group of donors in Canada, we began our Lovework with CCDO by addressing the needs of their four caregiver families who are supporting 17 orphaned children between them with home based care.

Caregiver, Grandmother Rose, with some of the orphaned children she cares for, full time, in her home.

With dedicated financial support from of a group of donors in Canada, we began our Lovework with CCDO by addressing the needs of their four caregiver families who are supporting 17 orphaned children between them with home based care.

Rose, a widowed grandmother, has eight orphaned children living with her in her home.. three in their teens, five are young, of which one is yet an infant.

Rose shared with us that she had been facing problems providing scholastic materials and needed beds/bedding for the children. She also asked for assistance to begin a poultry project, the income generating activity of her choice. If provided, say, 20 hens, and two roosters, the eggs would help feed the children, and she could sell excess at a stall she already operates alongside the roadway where she sells bananas. She had a suitable shelter for the hens and her home is solid, made of bricks, and was very clean and tidy.

Empowerment Summary: Along with Rose’s personal stakeholder contribution of two roosters, we were able to facilitate the purchase of 20 hens for her poultry project. Four bunk beds were built for her by the local carpenter, eight foam mattresses were purchased and transported from Mbale along with sheets, blankets and mosquito nets. All the school aged children were provided with ‘school kits’ that included scribblers, pens/pencils, a math set and sharpener inside a zippered book bag. We also provided Rose with a solar lamp system that has the capability to charge cell phones. Another great way to

One of the bunk beds being built for Rose and the children she cares for, hand crafted by a local carpenter and his son. We have ordered and delivered 15 bunks for CCDO children so far.. each costing approximately $45Cdn.

earn income in a community where power is often ‘gone’ and every other person has a cell phone.. not to mention the savings she will be able to enjoy no longer needing to purchase paraffin or candles to light her home in the evening.

We’ll check back later in the year to see how the poultry project and phone charging is helping with income generation for Rose. Thank you to our very special family of donors for this amazing support for Rose and the orphaned children in her care.

POSTED 12.04.13 #2 (.. please scroll down for previous entry

YOU – Youth Of Uganda

While we support the local economy in Uganda as much as possible and purchase the vast majority of supplies for our projects within the country, even the community, where we are working, contributors often want to donate awesome things for the children that may not be available locally. At my departure from Canada in late September, I was pretty loaded with stuff to bring as a result of people’s kindness. Angela, one of our sister board members at LITA took this pic outside Vancouver Airport as she helped me haul all the stuff from White Rock to the

September 2013 – Outside YVR.. enroute to Uganda.

British Airways check in. We are forever grateful to the donor who paid for my return flight, and family, friends and BA employees who helped to arrange with British Airways free transport for all of the luggage.. along with the very surprising seat upgrade for me! Really awesome and the perfect beginning of an amazing six month journey.

A LITA donor helped to make possible the purchase of a photocopier/scanner/printer that was in one of the suitcases.. a ‘wish list’ request to support the start up of an income generating activity for a small community based organization called YOU – Youth Of Uganda – founded by Ugandan friends of LITA, Frank and Francis.

Info about YOU that I found on their facebook page..

Francis, Frank (founders) and Peter (a supporter) of YOU – Youth Of Uganda – receiving the photocopier that a LITA donor supported them with, along with a slightly used digital camera that was also donated by generous contributors!

“Youth Of Uganda’s vision is to see a generation of youth who are healthy, empowered, visionary and working together to see a better Uganda.

Youth of Uganda was founded on the following main objectives;
To prevent the spread of HIV infection among the young population of Uganda.
To provide youth friendly services and support for those young people already infected with HIV/AIDS.
To provide youth friendly education about all issues related to reproductive health.
To encourage and facilitate leadership development among youth.
To establish a foundation for peer-to-peer

support within the community of young people in Uganda.
To advocate for youth friendly policy and practices among other organizations and institutions, both governmental and non-governmental.

To partner with other organizations and institutions in order to provide more complete support to youth.
To encourage youth to use their own voice and discover the importance of self-advocacy.
To provide a space in which youth of the community gather comfortably and have access to the services provided by the organization.
To enable youth to develop their potential through education and vocational skill building and other activities.”

LITA is happy and grateful to share Love and empowerment with YOU!

With Frank, Francis and Peter, and my delightful family neighbours, Dandu and Jack, at the compound where I stay..

POSTED 10.04.13 #1

The Chronicles of Uganda Autumn/Winter 2012

Love Love to You.

LITA’s most recent journey to Africa saw me in Uganda from late September 2012 until returning to Canada almost six months to the day later, in March 2013. While lots of focus during that time was on the building of dorms, a library, and an office at ACIO Child Care Centre for orphaned children in Mutufu, and the project took us over four months to complete, there were a great many other amazing connections of Love and empowerment with orphaned children, and their caregivers, that also took place during that time. (Click here for Part OneTwo and Three  photo essays on the building of the dorms mentioned above..)

With departure from Uganda a few days away, saying “See you soon” with Eric, at ACIO Child Care Center in Mutufu, Uganda

The plan with these chronicles then is to share short stories from the journey, many of which were made possible by the kind and generous contributions of LITA’s Loving family of friends. I’ll add stories one at a time along with photos, always posting the latest entry at the top of this page, and changing the date and installment number in the title above, so you’ll know easily if a new one’s been posted.

Thanks always for your Lovingkindness,

From the beautiful orphaned children we are serving and all of us at Love Is The Answer. Blessings in Love.

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