In 2011 we started dedicating more time towards formalising our activities and becoming better established as a charity. As part of this, we conducted a needs assessment with the grandmothers in our group to ascertain what the main problems are that they are facing and the causes of these problems. After identifying the problems and causes, we could then better design project activities to address real challenges in the area. Key challenges that became very apparent were household nutrition and sex education and HIV/AIDS awareness. Poverty was an underlying root cause for many of the challenges, but we hope to boost these households in a way that they can improve their household food security, the children gain the confidence needed to practice safe sex when they begin to have sexual encounters, and everyone in our group feels supported by one another and are able to stand up to stigmatisation inflicted by the wider community.
During the latter part of 2011, we began working with a lady called Kathy who is an experienced sex education trainer and her colleague Magdaline. They offered a workshop to our teenage girls in how to make reusable/washable sanitary pads and to talk about female hygiene so we took this up and Magdaline came to run the one-day workshop in October. We will be running more of these as it proved to be very popular and generated a lot of interest outside our group.
In 2011, we had three big meetings with all the children and their guardians - in April, August and December. We provided group counselling during these meetings, although we're looking to do counselling with smaller groups in the future, and distributed foodstuffs, clothing, exercise books and pencils to each of our members.
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This month we received a wonderful donation of solar lights from Jaguar Land Rover, enough for all our children and guardians. This will make a huge difference - it means the children can study in the evenings and other chores can be done much more easily after it gets dark.