Dr. Jumah provides dental outreach to students at two of our schools.
29
Jul

Dr. Jumah’s Dental Outreach

Since January Dr. Jumah, the dentist at Bishop Asili Hospital, has visited our five schools to provide dental care to students. Many families in the rural communities we serve can’t afford the services and care from a dentist (or even the cost of travel to see one). For some communities, the nearest hospital with dental services is 20km or 12.5 miles away. In the worst cases, infections and abscesses are formed in the mouth and gums that threaten the overall health of a person.

 

During his initial visit to each school, Dr. Jumah discovered the children at two of our schools had dental issues that needed immediate attention. Many students suffered from abscesses and rotting gums due to their inability to see a dentist for treatment. In fact, none of the students had ever seen a dentist before (some teachers, too).

 

Dr. Jumah returned this month to follow-up with those students:

 

At St. Kizito Giriyada School, Dr. Jumah screened 98 students — 51 had sick teeth that needed to be extracted. Some kids had more than one tooth that needed to be extracted. Three teachers’ teeth were extracted, too.

 

At Namumira Primary School, Dr. Jumah screened 104 students — 53 of them needed extractions, however he was only able to perform them on 49 students because 4 students declined (they feared the dental work). Four teachers’ teeth were extracted, too.

 

The most serious case was found at St. Kizito Giriyada School where three students had swollen, rotten gums with abcess and according to Dr. Jumah, their sick teeth threatened the students’ mental health. One student with three rotting teeth said he kept having pain but his parents couldn’t afford to take him to the hospital — in his case, Dr. Jumah’s outreach proved to be a life-saver.

 

I feel like this is one of the greatest things we’ve done this year and to be honest, am so happy this happened and grateful to the donors for supporting such a critical health activity to the people who badly need it, though they cannot afford it. God bless you all.” — Grace Najjuma, Project Universal Education Coordinator, Uganda

 

Students at St. Kizito Giriyada School in Uganda wait to see Dr. Jumah.

Students at St. Kizito Giriyada School in Uganda wait to see Dr. Jumah.

betty redux
29
Jul

Betty, Overcoming Adversity and Realizing Her Dreams!!

The middle school that Betty is currently attending with a sponsorship through Just Like My Child Foundation’s (JLMC) Mandela Project has a vision, “to build a legacy of excellence by imparting to the girl child an all-around education.” They are achieving their mission and so is Just Like My Child, as Betty is receiving a holistic and deeply enriched education at one of the best schools in Uganda for girls.

Betty’s future was once, not so seemingly bright. She comes from Lira in Northern Uganda, where her HIV positive parents have struggled not only to survive, but also to generate enough resources to pay tuition and school fees for Betty and her seven siblings. In the few times they were able to scrape by and keep her in school, Betty proved an academic superstar, placing 2nd in her class. Betty’s mother, heart broken at having to pull her daughter out of school once again, had the good sense to send her to live with her loving and supportive uncle in the Central Region of Uganda, where JLMC works, with the hope that he would find Betty brighter opportunities and indeed he found them.

JLMC immediately recognized the spark and immense potential in Betty and began sponsoring her education with the support of a faithful and generous Mandela Project sponsor in 2012. Since then, Betty has excelled academically achieving her highest scores in Chemistry and Biology. Betty’s teachers admire her for her down-to-earth personality. On a recent report card, one of her teacher wrote, “It’s always a pleasure being around students like Betty.” Living on the grounds of a hospital with her uncle during her school vacations, Betty has developed a true passion for healthcare and medicine. Her dream is to become a doctor one day, so she can serve the people of her country. In a recent letter to her Mandela sponsor, Betty wrote “My parents, uncles, aunts, grannies, brothers and sisters said that they are so grateful for what you are doing for me and that they still don’t know what to thank you with.”

Just Like My Child is incredibly proud to support such a bright and kind-hearted student in achieving her full potential! Investments made by the gracious support of Mandela sponsors, coupled with JLMC’s commitment to planting the seeds of leadership in Uganda, so solutions can grow from within the country, truly enable girls like Betty to realize their dreams! Support the Mandela Project! Donate today! Interested in becoming a sponsor? Send an inquiry here!

Mary Jane redux
29
Jul

Mary Jane, Standing out of the Crowd, Making us Proud!

Mary Jane is a quiet but brilliant thirteen-year-old girl, attending an excellent elementary school in Uganda thanks to the steady and reliable generosity of a Mandela Project sponsor. Just Like My Child Foundationd’s (JLMC) Mandela Project targets exceptional youth; ensuring high performing, yet vulnerable students receive a quality education as well as mentoring and career planning.

Mary Jane is studying in the Central part of Uganda where JLMC has been implementing programs since 2006, but she is originally from Lira in Northern Uganda. Her future at one time looked dim. She comes from a vulnerable family where she is the only girl among six brothers. When her father became very ill, the resources once used for paying tuition and school fees became tight. Although she is an extremely bright girl and was excelling academically, Mary Jane was pulled from school and denied an education, due to the responsibilities she had at home as an only girl, including cooking, cleaning, and fetching water, while her brothers went to school or played and her mother desperately sought out additional sources of income.

JLMC saw Mary Jane’s immense potential and started supporting her education through the Mandela Project in 2013. Since then, Mary Jane has achieved great success in school, including placing 14th out of 108 students in her class with her highest scores in science and math. Mary Jane’s love of running has inspired her to take advantage of athletic opportunities, helping her school to achieve 2nd in the region in track and sports by placing 1st in the 200m race. This year, Mary Jane will sit for a final elementary school exam that will determine her placement into the next level of schooling. At the rate she’s been going, her current school anticipates that next year she will be joining the ranks of a distinguished middle/high school in Uganda, positioning her to go onto university one day. None of this would have been possible if Mary Jane’s family did not receive the hand up needed to get her education back on track at an established and resourced boarding school with a reputation for academic excellence.

Investments made by the gracious support of Mandela sponsors, coupled with JLMC’s commitment to planting the seeds of leadership in Uganda, so solutions can grow from within the country, truly enable girls like Mary Jane to make their dreams a reality! Support the Mandela Project! Donate today! Interested in becoming a sponsor? Send an inquiry here!

15
Jul

From Inspiration to Transformation: An Interview with Vivian Glyck

Just Like My Child Foundation’s founder and executive director, Vivian Glyck, was interviewed this month by best-selling author Angella Nazarian on Postively Postive. Read the full article on Positively Positive here.
 

From Inspiration to Transformation: An Interview with Vivian Glyck
By Angella Nazarian, Positively Positive | July 13, 2014

From Inspiration to Transformation: An Interview with Vivian Glyck

This month I had the opportunity to meet an amazing woman who is changing the lives of women and girls in Africa through her organization Just Like My Child Foundation.

Vivian Glyck has a powerful story of personal growth that ties into her work. She left a successful business as a marketer for such clients as Deepak Chopra and Debbie Ford to pursue her greatest calling as an advocate for women and girls.

You will be incredibly inspired by this interview!
 
Angella Nazarian (AN): Can you share what inspired you to start Just Like My Child Foundation?

Vivian Glyck (VG): Just Like My Child Foundation was really inspired by my desire to have another child. When my son was born in 2002, the doors to my heart were blown wide open, and I knew when I looked into his eyes for the first time, that my love and energy had the power to make him thrive. And it has.

My husband Mike, a technology consultant and Internet marketer, and I wanted another child. But I had back-to-back miscarriages. After the third one, I couldn’t do it again. I got very, very down. People tried to comfort me, but I went to a dark place. I’d find myself sitting in my car at traffic lights, sobbing inconsolably.

At about that time, both Bono and Angelina Jolie were in the news for their humanitarian work in Africa. I found myself thinking, if they can do something to help, so can I. One night shortly afterward, I sat bolt upright in bed, woke Mike and told him, “I have to go to Africa.” Soon after, I was in Senegal, West Africa with the Agape Church from LA when an Italian photographer told me about Sister Ernestine Akulu, an administrator at an impoverished clinic in Uganda. The clinic was fighting for the lives of its people and losing ground every day. It was a desperate story from a land of many desperate stories.

He said, “There are people dying left and right. There is no doctor. There is no nothing,” and I said, ‘”That sounds like the right place for me. Where people are suffering, that’s where I want to be so that I can help.”

AN: Can you share a little bit of your personal history and how it has influenced the work you do today?

VG: I realized that my inspiration to work with vulnerable children came from a deeper place. My parents are Holocaust survivors, and I grew up in Spanish Harlem, well below the poverty line. The mental and emotional toll on the parents gets passed down to the next generation. I don’t tell a lot of people this, but starting at four years old, I was abused in every possible way by my father. Many nights I cried for help. And no one came, until finally at fourteen years old I was old enough, smart enough, strong enough to stand up for myself.

I never forgot how lonely and terrified I was in the grip of my father’s abuse. And although I never made a vow to myself to save the world, I knew I needed to be a voice for the voiceless. Once my son was born, I found the real focus for my passion.

That’s when I realized that every child is Just Like My Child, and each and everyone of us at JLMC have passionately committed ourselves towards protecting the rights of the world’s most vulnerable — especially women and children.

AN: Much of the work you do is focused on empowering others, and you have worked with some of the great experts such as Debbie Ford, Deepak Chopra, and Tony Robbins. What do you believe some of the keys are to empowering someone to harness their potential?

VG: I think that the story of the little boy and the butterfly has informed me on what the keys to empowerment are: The little boy comes upon a chrysalis, a cocoon of a caterpillar ready to emerge into a butterfly. The boy watches the butterfly struggle to break free of its home. Taking pity on the butterfly, the boy removes the chrysalis for the butterfly. The butterfly spreads its beautiful wings a few times and then, unable to fly, lays down and dies.

The butterfly needed to struggle out of its shell to gain the strength to fly and live. From what I’ve seen, this is a major key to empowerment:

We all need to grow, struggle, and strengthen on our own for us to live our fullest potential. No amount of “charity” can substitute for the internal strength needed to flourish.

As an organization, we believe in solidarity, not charity. The solutions to poverty are right there on the ground, and when we partner with the indigenous, rather than just giving a “hand out,” we see amazing transformations happen. We’ve seen that the keys to empowering someone to harness their potential is to provide the resources, encouragement, and then give them the dignity and independence to implement solutions for themselves.

AN: Can you share some of the statistics facing girls today?

VG: No one is more vulnerable than an uneducated girl living in poverty. She is at risk for dropping out of elementary school, sexual violence, marrying early, becoming pregnant as a young teen, dying during childbirth, and contracting HIV/AIDS. If she survives, she will be raising her children in poverty and they too will be at risk.

And yet, girls have the potential to move themselves and their families into a healthier, more secure life. We believe that by investing in empowering adolescent girls, we are supporting the most powerful force for change on the planet.

  • 16 million adolescent girls ages fifteen-nineteen give birth each year.
    (WHO 2008)
  • Gender inequalities such as vulnerability to rape, sex with older men, and unequal access to education and economic opportunities make HIV-related risks especially acute for women and girls.
    (UNAIDS 2013)
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the center of the epidemic, women still account for approximately 57% of all people living with HIV.
    (UNAIDS 2013)
  • Medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls ages fifteen-nineteen, worldwide.
    (girleffect.org)
  • In Uganda, 77% of reported child abuse is rape against girls.
    (ANPPCAN Uganda)
  • 150 million girls worldwide are victims of sexual violence in a year.
    (UNIFEM 2011)
  • Less than 2% of all international aid goes to help girls.
    (girleffect.org)

But an empowered girl can change the world! @antravelista (Click to Tweet!)

It is now known that educating and supporting girls reduces infant, child and maternal mortality rates, population growth, HIV infection rates and changes the conditions that create a cycle of poverty. Women are known to reinvest 90% of their earnings for the family while men invest 35%. The health and wellbeing of the next generation is dependent on the health and well-being of the soon-to-be mothers of those children.

  • When a girl has seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
    (Center for Global Development 2009)
  • A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS.
    (The Global Campaign for Education 2011)
  • Girls who stay in school during adolescence have a later sexual debut, are less likely to be subjected to forced sex and, if sexually active, are more likely to use contraception than their age peers who are out of school.
    (girleffect.org)
  • Increasing the secondary education of all girls could result in an annual income increase of 30% per capita.
    (Chaaban 2011)
  • Wages rise by 20% for every year beyond the 4th grade that a girl remains in school.
    (USAID 2011)
  • Educated women reinvest 90% of their income in their family, while men reinvest 30-40%.
    (USAID)
  • Giving women the same access to resources and services as men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million.
    (girleffect.org)
  • AN: Do you have a personal motto or philosophy that is translated through your work?

    VG: In the end, only kindness matters. I believe that given enough time, love and compassion can heal just about anything.

    AN: Do you have any projects or initiatives that Just Like My Child Foundation is particularly focused on at this moment?

    VG: Yes! We are focused on reaching 1 Million Vulnerable Adolescent girls who are ready to rise up and find their voice. We’re doing this through a program that has had remarkable results and that we call The Girl Power Project®. The Girl Power Project was created to address violence against women and girls and is a transformational peer-mentoring program that empowers adolescent girls to stay in school, avoid early pregnancy, disease, and live the life of their dreams.

    Girl Power steps in just as girls face the choices that could lead them to a life of early marriage, children and disease or an alternative life of education, economic independence, and delayed marriage. We are focused on achieving zero pregnancies, zero dropouts, and creating leaders who have a vision and path for their future among the nine to sixteen year old female population.

    Our ultimate goal is to empower one million vulnerable girls over the next ten years through a model that brings the program to 100 communities where 100 girls (10,000 girls in total) are trained as peer mentors. The power comes when each girl brings this knowledge back to her community and empowers 100 of her peers, neighbors, and family.

    AN: In addition to founding Just Like My Child Foundation, you are also an author, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and have a background in marketing. What was your “ah ha” moment – when you first tapped into your power and found your own voice?

    VG: I was fourteen years old. My mother and I had literally run away from my father in the middle of the night to escape his escalating violence. I was in 11th grade at a new school in New York City, and while I was trying to fit in with a new crowd in that awkward adolescent era, I was also dodging my father daily as he would try to abduct me from school. One day he finally succeeded, intercepting me as I was leaving school. He took me back to his apartment and I was trapped in a terrible situation.

    When he finally fell asleep, I escaped the dismal apartment and ran down six flights of stairs and didn’t stop running for five city blocks. All of the mentoring I had been receiving from one of my teachers all at once gave me enormous courage. I called my mother right then from a pay phone and said, “This is the last time this will happen to me. You need to take me to get protection right now.” Within a week we had a restraining order against my father and I had my found an inner strength and voice that would serve me the rest of my life.

    AN: What has been your proudest moment?

    VG: My eleven year old graduated from 6th grade in June and he had to write and deliver a speech. Seeing him up on stage, all cleaned up and in a suit made my heart sing. In the same way, when I was with fourteen year old Nabatanzi Joan, one of our Girl Power Project mentors in Uganda in June, and met twenty of the girls in the Girl Power Club she created at her school, I was blown away by the power of one girl. I was so proud of her internal strength, vision, and compassion for her friends.

    AN: What time in your life did you grow the most?

    VG: In 1994, I became very ill with an unknown virus. At the time I was working in mid-level management at a small health insurance company near Boston, Massachusetts. I had been at this job for a long six years and had recently been unceremoniously dumped by my boyfriend because I was so sick. Nothing in my life was working. It was one of the harshest winters in New England history and my spirit was really ailing.

    That was when I started to meditate and explore other healing. By being still and in the moment, I could see all manner of opportunities that had been unavailable to me when I was hijacked by my anxiety and despair. Once I got out of my own way, I healed quickly, I found a job working as marketing director for Deepak Chopra and I was traveling around the country with him for his events and speaking engagements. Going to work for Deepak, who was not as well known at the time, was a massive left turn in my life and broke all the rules I had thought I needed to follow. My entire life blossomed once I let go of the fear and followed my own bliss (instead of everyone else’s).

    My pathway to growth was through pain, and I’ve learned to appreciate the challenges in life because I know they will always make me stronger.

    AN: How has the work that you have done healed you?

    VG: By helping young girls to find their voice and step into their own power and potential, I have been able to grow beyond my own story and see the common path we all travel. There was a time when I was very fearful of public speaking because I truly hated to have attention focused on me. Now I can hardly contain myself when asked to speak about our work because my story encompasses the greater whole. I am in complete integrity about my passion rather than self-conscious about my own ego.
     
     
    Angella Nazarian is the bestselling author of Pioneers of the Possible and creator of the newly released iPhone app My Personal Coach. This interview originally appeared on Postively Postive.

5
Mar

An Open Letter on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law by JLMC’s Girl Power Project® Facilitator

Monica speaking at Camp Girl PowerDear friends, supporters and well-wishers of Just Like My Child Foundation and its Girl Power Project®,

Warm greetings.

I am writing this note to share some of my thoughts on the anti-homosexuality bill that was passed into law last month in Uganda.

I know that there is great concern in the West regarding the passage of this law. I share the same values of so much of the online response I have read. My human rights colleagues in Uganda and I believe this process was undemocratic and a violation of human rights and dignity. I further believe that the purpose of the President signing this bill into law and the Parliament putting it forth was for political ambitions, since as a country we are soon going to the polls to elect new leaders. Because of lack of exposure in Uganda, the mass population is homophobic about the whole aspect of homosexuality, and so the anti-homosexual position is a powerful stance for politicians. This fear is further amplified by the church leaders who strongly speak negatively about homosexuality, in my opinion from a very ignorant point of view.

Passing this law is definitely a step backward for Uganda’s growth and it reflects poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting human rights.

However, despite this challenge, I would also like to share with you that the problem associated with homosexuality is small – and only affects a very small portion of the population in Uganda. Affecting a far greater portion of Uganda’s population are the issues of violence and disempowerment of women, HIV/AIDS, early pregnancies and other issues affecting over 50% of the population.

1465777_10152185909188436_1653616597_oThrough your generous support and partnership, Just Like My Child Foundation has empowered girls and communities to achieve their fullest potential in education, health, social justice and human rights, among others. Your support directly benefits the highly vulnerable girls who have nothing to do with the legislative body that has passed this law, and need your support more than ever. I also assure you that this legislation is contradictory to the beliefs of the growing human rights consortium in Uganda, and it is contradictory to the spirit and information we bring to the Girl Power Project®.

I encourage you to continue supporting girls because through this support, in the long run, we shall have a population that understands that all minority groups who are part of our society deserve their human rights and to be respected. And if we raise girls to live their fullest potential, they will soon be sitting in the seats of Parliament in greater numbers, with louder and more powerful voices than ever.

As human rights activists in Uganda, we shall continue to push for the amendment of this law.

Yours in Solidarity,

Monica Nyiraguhabwa

Girl Power Project® Mentor and Facilitator

21
Jan

Answering a Call to Help the Children of Uganda

By Karla Peterson, San Diego Union Tribune | January 21, 2014

During her first humanitarian trip to Africa, Vivian Glyck met a man who told her about a small Ugandan clinic that was fighting for the lives of its people and losing ground every day. It was a desperate story from a land of many desperate stories, and it should have scared her off. But where other people might have heard a warning, Glyck heard a call.

“He said there are people dying left and right. There is no doctor. There is no nothing,” Glyck remembered. “And I said, ‘That sounds like the right place for me.’”

And so it was. Nine years later, it still is.

In 2006, Glyck made her first visit to the Bishop Asili Hospital in Luwero. When she returned, she started the Just Like My Child Foundation. The group quickly raised $30,000 to buy the hospital a much-needed generator. Then came a doctor, a sterile room and surgical tools. Since then, Glyck has made 15 more trips to Uganda. Her calling struck a chord that keeps on resonating, and Just Like My Child has made a world of difference everywhere it goes.

The foundation has worked with local educators, parents and community leaders to build six schools, helped more than 300 families struggling with HIV to start self-sustaining farming businesses, and held life-skills and mentoring workshops for more than 1,300 adolescent girls in 12 villages.

As for that dark and dank clinic, it is now a fully equipped teaching hospital. In 2007, Just Like My Child received a grant from the Clinton Foundation to provide HIV pediatric testing through Bishop Asili. The hospital also provides everything from lifesaving operations and AIDS treatment to prenatal care and malaria prevention to more than 76 villages.

“Vivian is a force of nature. I have watched her go from having just the seed of an idea to making magic happen with amazing speed and dexterity and thoughtfulness and creativity,” said Arielle Ford, a longtime friend and a founding member of the Just Like My Child board. “People know that when they donate to Just Like My Child, she will squeeze something out of every penny. She is not flying first class to Uganda. She is on the ground getting her hands dirty and doing whatever it takes to fulfill this mission.”

This was never what Glyck thought she would be doing. But it is exactly what life prepared her to do.

The youngest of three children, Glyck grew up in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, where her family struggled with poverty, domestic violence and sexual abuse. She escaped early, heading to the University of Rochester at 16 and later into a career in health care and media relations. She worked at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and with Deepak Chopra. She wrote books, including “12 Lessons I Learned from My Garden: Spiritual Guidance from the Vegetable Patch” and “The Tao of Poop: Keeping Your Sanity (And Your Soul) While Raising a Baby.”

Glyck married author and entrepreneur Mike Koenigs, and the couple moved to San Diego in 2001. Their son Zak was born one year later. Glyck felt blessed and happy, which made it the perfect time to throw herself a major life curveball.

“I knew I was really good at telling a story and finding ways to connect with people, and I became on fire with the idea of helping kids around the world,” Glyck said during an interview in the family’s La Jolla Shores home office. “I was so in love with my little boy, I thought, ‘How could children just like him be perishing?’ One night, I woke up with the sound of children crying in my head, and I thought, ‘OK, I have to go to Africa.’”

This year, Glyck and the foundation are focusing on the group’s Girl Power Project. The goal is to use workshops, mentoring and leadership camps to give adolescent girls in the developing world the emotional, psychological and educational tools they need to stay in school, avoid early pregnancies and build independent, self-sustaining lives.

If 100,000 girls take this new knowledge back to their villages, and each girl mentors 100 girls, Glyck can see a world that looks much different from the one we have now. That is one part of the dream. The other part is that the Just Like My Child boys and girls can claim this better future as their own. Because it will be.

“When I was in Uganda last time, I was talking to one of our legal volunteers, and she said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for giving us knowledge, not just giving us money.’ That is what I’m most proud of,” Glyck said. “When I go to one of the (Girl Power) conferences, they have no idea who I am. They take care of each other. It’s just them.”

Read the full article here: Answering a Call to Help the Children of Uganda

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19
Dec

The Symphony of a Rainstorm

Heavy Rainstorm At Bishop Asili Hospital

We are sitting in the office during a strong thunderstorm. Like clockwork, the power company switches off electricity before a storm hits to ensure safety, as many of the electrical poles are not strong enough to withstand strong winds and rain. The beeping sound of our electronics signifying power is gone starts off the music in our office; then comes the symphony of the rain banging on the tin roof combined with the now and then drumming of the thunder – you can imagine it makes for a noisy meeting.

There is something that we take advantage of in the States and that is the ability to work during rain. In Uganda, things come to a halt when it rains, unless you have already traveled to your destination. and you have written work to do or your battery can run off power for a few hours. Since most times, the means of transport are motorcycles, you can get stuck for hours at a time inside the grocery store, an office, or even your home before you can head to the meeting that was supposed to take place an hour before. Regardless of the delays and hassle the rain can cause, there is a certain beauty and peace that comes with the rain here.

The following are a few tips for surviving and enjoying a rainstorm in Uganda:

  • Make sure your electronics are fully charged so you can continue to work through the power outage.
  • Stay where you are; it’s understood that if there is a rainstorm, things will be delayed and you will not be late due to issues out of your control!
  • Shut the windows in the room and especially in your bedroom or else you will find the room soaked!
  • Pour yourself a cup of hot tea and put on “Africa” by Toto and enjoy the symphony outside!

Written by Marissa Uvanovic, Just Like My Child’s Country Director in Luwero, Uganda.

26
Sep

Help us welcome our new Country Director, Marissa Uvanović!

Marissa

Our entire team at Just Like My Child Foundation is excited to announce Marissa Uvanović as our new Country Director, headquartered in Luwero, Uganda. Her values strongly align with JLMC’s philosophy of a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘hand-out’, as her personal goals for programming include creating communities that are self-reliant, sustainable, and empowered. Marissa’s professional and personal experiences have inspired her to dedicate her career to serving marginalized groups and advocating for equality and justice, which makes her a perfect fit with Just Like My Child Foundation’s initiatives and goals.

In addition to her new role with JLMC, Marissa is studying the theory, history, and practice of nonviolence through a program with The Metta Center. She was previously employed as the Implementation Program Manager for The 31 Lengths Campaign, an NGO aimed at providing entrepreneurship skills and education in Northern Uganda. Additionally, for the past five years, Marissa has served in numerous roles ranging from Operations and Communications Manager, to Grant Writer and Executive Assistant at Web of Benefit, a grassroots domestic violence and women’s empowerment nonprofit serving women the Greater Boston and Chicago areas.

Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on social entrepreneurship, Marissa has learned and put into practice the power of intertwining business practicum and skills in the pursuit of social change and empowerment programming. In the past five years, Marissa has studied, volunteered, worked, and/or researched in the following countries: Cape Verde, Guatemala, Turkey, and Uganda. During her time abroad, she has focused specifically on the use of business as a tool for empowerment and social change regarding issues of violence, human trafficking, and oppression.

Marissa will be blogging about her experiences throughout her time as Country Director – be sure to follow her adventures and updates here!

29
Aug

Our little musicians are blowing away the competition!

20130822143209-IMG_0026In a rural village of Luwero, Uganda, St. Joseph Magogo Primary School stands as a beacon of hope for the community. Its talented young students thrive in a culture of music and dance, with an emphasis on self-expression and cultural heritage. Over 290 boys and girl practice music and dance regularly as part of their education, and their Headmaster is eager to see them prove themselves on the national stage.

Just Like My Child Foundation™ has worked side-by-side with the staff at St. Joseph Magogo since 2010 through our Project Universal Education™ and Girl Power Project™. In 2012, after witnessing  the school’s incredible culture of music and dance, we funded the purchase of musical instruments for the students. At the beginning of August, they won the opportunity to compete in the Luwero District Music and Dance Competition, and won 9 out of 10 rounds. From there, they went on to Regionals (which included 7 districts), where they won first place! The students were overjoyed to hear they had earned the opportunity to compete at Nationals, especially after an initial miscalculation by the judges led them to believe they had not qualified.

In order to raise the funds to compete at the National Theater in the capital city of Kampala, this motivated school drew upon the school development training they’ve received from us to hold a fundraising event where they  charged a small fee for a dress rehearsal performance. Their confidence in the community was rewarded, as 160 community members turned out to support the performance!

20130822153418-IMG_2654To enable this remarkable group of children to compete at Nationals, Just Like My Child Foundation™ started an Indiegogo campaign that has raised over $2,500 to date. This outpouring of support from longtime donors and strangers alike allowed us to give the school the go-ahead, and they are currently in the capital city of Kampala competing for the National title in Music and Dance!

Just yesterday, we heard from our Program Coordinator on the ground in Uganda, Grace Najjuma, and here’s what she had to say:

“I am happy to JLMC for sending me to watch this National competition. Honestly, it is fun and am glad to inform you that Magogo is doing so well in its competition compared to the first class schools it’s battling against like Namugongo, Kabojja, Ndejje – for no one believes it is their first time in the Nationals! There are 42 schools in the competition from all parts of the country and it is amazing. The children are so happy and grateful to JLMC for the support and here Magogo is rejoicing!”

20130822142918-DSC_0209Thank you to everyone who donated to our Indiegogo campaign to send our “little musicians that could” to compete in the National Dance and Drama Competition in the capital city of Kampala! Your continued support means higher quality transportation and food for these talented young children and their devoted teachers.

Watch here: Send the children of St. Joseph Magogo to Nationals!

24
Jul

Our partners witness change on the ground

Last week, our donors and partners, Connie Viveros from The Collective Heart Foundation and Cynthia Kersey from Unstoppable Foundation visited our projects on the ground in Uganda. We were thrilled to showcase our programs, including the Girl Power Project and Project Universal Education. Cynthia Kersey from the Unstoppable Foundation, which has helped us build three schools in rural Uganda, presided over the official opening of the Unstoppable Foundation dormitory at The Children’s Academy for The Collective Heart. The addition of this dormitory at the school will make a huge contribution to the safety and academic progress of over 100 students.

The Collective Heart recently fulfilled their portion of a pledge to raise $100,000 for Just Like My Child Foundation’s Girl Power Project, a unique peer mentoring program that is unleashing the potential of adolescent girls to shift the health, economic and ecological future of the planet. With their support, we’ve been able to expand our program to reach many more young girls who through this program become bold enough to look you in the eye and strong enough to state their rights as they lead their country forward.

While visiting several of the schools participating in JLMC’s Girl Power Project, Connie Viveros from The Collective Heart and Cynthia Kersey from Unstoppable got to witness strong testimonials from the girls, who were eager to share what they’ve learned. One young girl boldly got up to say, “I learned how to not get pregnant.” Another young girl stated, “I learned that I need to stay in school.” Yet another girl said, “I learned how to fend off unwanted sexual advances.”

These powerful testimonials are evidence of the program’s success, and we’re so glad they got to witness firsthand the impact their support is having on the ground, where it is transforming individual lives and empowering entire communities.