Based out of Kabale, Southern Uganda, Alongside Africa are an organisation that focus on providing the most impoverished with ‘opportunities, not aid’ – an ethos that I have adopted through my volunteering experiences both locally and internationally. I believe that in order to sustainably remove people from hardship, throwing money at the issue provides a short-term solution, but not the tools necessary to resolve issues of poverty, once the funding runs dry.
Alongside Africa currently fund seamstress traineeships for teenage women at their Amasiko Halfway House, through a seven-month program that see them receive an education, on-the-job training and their own equipment at the end of the program. They currently have the facilities to educate roughly 20 women per semester, and each student requires approximately £550 in funding to complete the program.
They also sponsor children’s education through their Give a Child a Chance program. I’ve long believed that education is a tool that can be used for good in the fight against poverty, and since inception, Alongside Africa have impacted over 100 children through this program. Funding for a child costs roughly £30 per month, and goes towards school fees, stationery, housing, food and clothing. There are as many children on the waiting list in Kabale as there are in school currently.
The Obumwe Project Support Programme, which supports womens’ groups, many of whom are AIDS widows, has provided over 50 loans since commencing in 2014. These loans, usually around £250, are offered at a far lower interest rate than would be available locally, and opens up opportunities that would otherwise not be available to groups who hope to start a project or run a business. To date, most loans granted through the programme have been repaid in full.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of the founders of Alongside Africa in November of last year, and discussed how I could help. The major issue Alongside Africa sees itself facing in 2023 is one of funding. Despite having the capacity for 20 trainees, the Amasiko Halfway House almost had to close its doors at the start of the current semester, and is currently operating at half-capacity.
And here’s where I, and we, can help. In what is much of a repeat episode for me, I am going to raise funds for Alongside Africa this year by climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and collecting donations in the process. Unlike the past, I have raised the stakes – I am aiming to collect £30,000 for Alongside Africa, of which I have already secured £5,000. That’s enough to give 54 women a vocation for life, 1000 months of education for underprivileged children, or approximately 120 opportunities to projects or new businesses.
I see a lot of potential for what Alongside Africa can offer alongside their current offering, and I hope to help them deliver this in the future. But for now, ensuring the sustainable delivery of their current offering is the challenge, and one that I’m willing to climb mountains to support. I hope that you’ll join me in this venture, and help great people deliver the potential for a future to those who haven’t been blessed with the same opportunities we have.
I am immensely grateful in advance for any support received, and invite you all to follow the story of Alongside Africa as it unfolds.