Through a family-centered approach the Distance Support Program is empowering parents to form saving groups to reinforce their economic capabilities
Through the Distance Support Program, 2,223 children in Uganda had access to quality education in 2022 alone.
The AVSI Foundation project has gone beyond covering students’ tuition costs to reinforce their parents’ capabilities towards more long-lasting socioeconomic solutions and resilience.
The project considers the family the vital part of the supported child and applies innovative strategies such as Village Saving and Loans Association, psychosocial support, Farmer Field and Business School and Income Generating Activities to help the entire household to become self-reliant.
In Luuka District, a rural community 125 kilometers from Kampala, Kiyunga Social Service Center a non-governmental organization and partner of AVSI Foundation supports 159 children annually.
The organization has formed 39 Village Saving and Loans Association groups since 2013 to economically empower parents of children supported through the project.
Harriet's story towards the empowerment
Since 2015, Harriet has been an active participant in one of the groups. With the help of her savings, she purchased a land and constructed a home where she now happily resides with her son Albert.
"I was determined to construct a house that I and my children would call home, in a secure locality – a home that wouldn't be taken away from us. It took me seven years to complete this house. The journey was challenging but worthwhile.”
In 2010, Harriet and her husband divorced, and she moved to Luuka District to hunt for work at a time Albert was still a young child.
Here is where Harriet first met AVSI Foundation social workers and with their help, she started working as a cook at a school.
"I needed a job, Albert was just six months old, and I was all by myself. I progressively became strong as a result of the counseling sessions I received with the help of AVSI Foundation staff – this revived my hope."
Albert was enrolled in the Distance Support Program in 2015 as he prepared to join primary school because Harriet couldn't meet all his school needs.
That same year, Harriet decided to sign up for the Women's Saving Group formed with the guidance of AVSI Foundation. The group now has 30 members who gather every Monday to save any amount from UGX 2,000 to 10,000.
The Distance Support Program helped her to build a home for her family
Harriet saw another milestone in her life when in 2015 she purchased a cow using her savings in the group. In 2016 she purchased a second cow, and in 2018, she sold both and made a good profit which changed her life for better. She made the decision to purchase land in Luuka District using the proceeds from the sale with a top up from money she borrowed from the group.
With a property in her name and the loan fully paid in 2018, Harriet began the construction of her home, a modest structure where Albert could grow up in harmony.
“In 2021, I completed the wall plastering and connected water and electricity inside my house. The savings group has helped me to keep track of my expenditures and to make valuable investments.”
Thanks to her determination over the years, Harriet was able to secure employment as a body therapist in a health facility close to Albert's school. She has ventured into rearing free-range chicken for multiplication which she eventually plans to sell when the numbers have grown.
"Because I didn't have to worry about Albert's tuition I was able to save money and plan for our future with confidence. Albert is a good boy; the teachers have also observed his good behavior - he supervises the school's sporting activities.
I'm proud of him and I'm proud of myself too because I have worked even harder since I separated with my abusive husband without hope, and now look at me, I'm enterprising and I have a fantastic son! The future is bright for us!”