Less than a third of Ugandan school children complete their primary education. More education — and graduation ceremonies — is almost entirely out of reach for the country’s largely poor population. So when Living Goods graduates a new class of Community Health Promoters, it is a big event for the graduates themselves, and for friends and family, who turn up in their Sunday best to celebrate. The joy is palpable and the excitement intensifies when the event is attended by district leaders, which happened at the graduation in Mukono in Uganda this past.
According to Living Goods Uganda Sales and Performance Director, Emilie Chambert, this graduation group has done particularly well, with 55 of the 58 men and women enrolled in the training graduating on this day.
One such graduate is 32-year-old Hadija Nalubwarna, the mother of six young children aged between one and eight. “I used to dream about becoming a nurse,” says Hadija, who had to stop her nursing course when she started to have children. “I have never had a job until now, but I really liked the idea of Living Goods because it will give me the opportunity to improve the health of people in my community.”
Despite her husband earning a relatively high salary as a teacher (1m shillings), the family struggles to get by. Hadija is hoping to earn monthly profits of 200,000 to help with school fees and other household necessities, and having already registered almost all of the households in her village, her prospects are looking very promising. “My favorite subjects in the training were newborn care and diarrhea, which is so common in my village — it’s not even seen as a disease anymore because it’s always there,” said Hadija. But now I can go back and educate people on the causes and prevention, and I will be so happy to improve on my community’s health.”
In addition to a Mukono District Health Officer, the graduation event was also attended by the deputy mayor, Makigudde Hamiat. “I really think this program is going to be a success,” she says. “I am so happy that it combines improving health and strengthening the economy, giving all these women an opportunity to earn. The people in the villages don’t have access to services, so going to them with the products will get the treatment to where it is needed. And it will help the government health centers too, when the drugs are not available.”