Aware Uganda

Action for women and Awakening in Rural Environment

AWARE Uganda is based in Kaabong in the remote region of Karamoja.

The women and girls of Karamoja traditionally have a very low status.

AWARE Uganda was formed because of the primitive culture, economic hardship and climatic harshness (prolonged drought) prevalent in the region, leading to the breakdown of family and village solidarity.

Issues prevalent in the region include gender-based violence, family neglect, women and human rights abuses, cattle rustling causing high mortality from violence and the destruction of basic infrastructure, highs levels of illiteracy particularly among the Karamojong women.

Rural nomadic migration has resulted in displacement and homelessness and high levels of HIV/AIDS.

AWARE has made a huge impact in Kaabong, increasing food security through the establishment of an orchard and garden, and improving the socio-economic status of women through income-generating projects such as tailoring, poultry and goat-rearing, mini-farms and bee keeping, as well as improving health through HIV awareness programmes.

In 2009, Safe World's founder, Chris Crowstaff, visited AWARE Uganda:

A Lasting Impression

"Kaabong made a lasting impact on me. And especially the children of Kaabong.

Education is a major issue in Kaabong and encouraging schooling is an essential part of Grace's efforts to help improve the lives of people living there.

But she has an uphill task. In tribal Uganda, education has traditionally played a minor role. The goal was to survive and education was not seen as key to survival.

Grace told me about the problems faced by the educators and the high drop out rates of children. Young boys are, at a very early age, often put in charge of grazing cattle and the girls may never attend school in the first place, early marriage being seen as more important. Those that do go to school are typically not expected, by the families, to stay.

The school teachers are doing their utmost to change this mindset.

I visited the primary school and secondary school in Kaabong. I was hugely impressed. The dedicated staff were doing their best with very minimal equipment. There was a special emphasis on trying to change attitudes towards girls and about ending violence.

But violence is not far from the surface. Tribal warfare is still common.

Families living outside the Ugandan army's 'safety zone' protect their homesteads with a maze of brushwood; hut floors are sunk down so that bullets can't so easily penetrate. Girls rarely get beyond the fences and, for them, school is out of the question."

Chris Crowstaff.