LENS ON UGANDA! 

Eye glass distribution project for children with less than perfect vision.  They are not disabled! They just need corrective lenses! If you have any lying around your house please given them to us and we'll take them to children in Uganda who need them.

This is an excellent school with proven leadership and creative teachers.  Girls who attend school often drop out when they begin to menstruate - usually around 14 years old.  These issues are somewhat reduced in an all - girls setting.  The school could educate more girls however the school remains vulnerable because they still do not have a fence. 

A fence would help to make the girls feel safe.  


We raised funds in 2015 to provide solar lighting to the girls dorms and to create a reading room so the girls could study at night.

On June 24, 2003, Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army infiltrated the LWALA Girls School in Northern Uganda and abducted 100 girls.  Within 3 days the Ugandan Army had rescued 23 of the girls and over the years many girls have managed to escape.  To date, 27 girls are still missing.  

LWALA Girls School 

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Monetary contributions should be made out to 'Hocus Focus' 501(c)(3).
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VCAYA

3929 Laurel Oak Circle
Murrysville, PA 15668

Improving the lives of vulnerable children

Community garden project


Initially funded by a gift from Helen Thorne for a fence coupled with a gift from the Manual Pinto family and the Ugandan Rotary for a structure to hold education sessions, this project is in early stages of development in Bukedea.


Schools in the region are implementing the gardening curriculum and based on recent research, dissemination to families through their children can be expected to improve the quality of nutrition and financial resources for the community.

Teacher training: Special Needs Education


Previous visits exposed a desperate need for information regarding individuals with disabilities.  Uganda has signed the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD); however efforts to meet the goals of the convention are ineffective.  Knowledge regarding etiology, prevention, characteristics and effective approaches for including individuals with disabilities in communities and schools is extremely limited. Obviously additional professional development is needed if these educators hope to provide effective programming to all children. 

Advocates for Children with Disabilities:  Parent Group


This is a parent group that formed in January 2014 beginning with eleven members who attended a clinic sponsored by a Grace Ann Geibel seed grant for parents of children with disabilities. 

In Ugandan society, mothers who give birth to a child with a disability are thought to be ‘cursed’.  Consequently they are usually abandoned by their husbands. Their children are hidden and do not attend school.  When our team returned 6 months later, the group had swelled to over 75 members. 

VCAYA sponsors the organization’s website and provides training to parents.  Efforts are underway to promote small business development for mothers who must care for their disabled children in the home.


During our return visit in December, we met with the leadership of the ACD and worked with them to develop a strategic plan.  Among other goals for building the organization and developing methods for advocacy, the plan included a focus on helping mothers of disabled children to start home-based businesses to support their families. 

Terry and Dan O’Connell, leaders within Heaven’s Family- a Christian based organization, are collaborating with VCAYA and faculty in Carlow University’s Business School to provide expert assistance in developing business plans and offering micro-financing loans to start home-based businesses.  These projects will begin in 2015 and are building on the foundation laid by Cynthia Nicola, faculty in Carlow’s business school.  Nicola engaged her undergraduate business students in working with one of the members of the ACD, Susan Geteni in developing a business creating handmade items from Uganda.  In addition to creating a business plan, students created a web site for Susan and raised startup funds for materials.

 


Community-based academic garden curriculum


The VCAYA team visited 4 school in the Bukedea Region in July 2014 and witnessed some challenging conditions for teachers.  Classroom size ranged from 60 - 130 students with one teacher.  Of the 1168 children attending the school only 79 had food available to them during the school day.  And classroom learning materials were scarce. 


During the fall semester of 2014, four graduate students enrolled in a Creative Inquiry class at Carlow Univerisity researched garden-based curriculums, nutritional needs for optimal neural and physical development and sustainability of gardens in Uganda.  Based on their research findings, they designed lessons for teachers in Bukedea.  Other Carlow students enrolled in the Foundations of Special Education course held a fundraiser to purchase the materials needed to implement these lessons in the schools.  Based on their understanding of the characteristics of individuals with disabilities, students identified the most effective low-tech adaptive materials to improve learning outcomes for all children.


In December, the newly created garden curriculum and materials were delivered to 2 principals who will be piloting them in the spring of 2015.  Plans are underway to work with the US Embassy in Uganda to print additional curriculum guides for distribution to 7 other schools in the summer of 2015.

Opucet Health Center

Many disabilities could be prevented with proper healthcare facilities.  The village of Opucet envisions expanding the education center to include a place where the community can access medical care and education including prenatal care and HIV/AIDS information. 


Since the Penn Hills Rotary of Southwestern Pennsylvania donated the funds for the clean water well, the first step in making this available is complete.  The plans were designed by certified builders in the Opucet community and wait for appropriate funding.

VCAYA hopes to partner with other organizations in the future to complete the project.

Silver Oonyo Memorial Inclusive School in Opucet, Uganda


170 students are currently enrolled in the school even though the building is not complete.  They meet with teachers outdoors or in Silver’s home when it rains. 

Teachers from the community are volunteering in the makeshift classrooms and accepting what ever each family is able to pay for their child's education. The community recognizes the value of education and many children with disabilities who were turned away by other schools are accepted here.  The inclusive environment is unique in this area of Uganda.