“Friends who care about us”

PONT was grateful to receive a grant from the Welsh Government via WCVA to add to our local fundraising and respond to the needs of our Self Help Groups in Mbale during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zebbie, Loyce, Martin and their team have been hard at work getting coronavirus information and support to people in rural villages. 

Here we share some excerpts from their reports so far!

You can read more about the COVID-19 emergency response grant here. There are three aspects to the project:

Part 1: provide 1,200 families with training about coronavirus

Part 2: support 300 families identified as most vulnerable with extra nutritional food

Part 3: give 40 Self Help Groups with a cash injection of 200,000 UGX (about £45) per group to kick start their savings operations after the lockdown.

Last week Zebbie told us how the project is going…

“So far the training is going on well. We have a committed team of trainers who walk to homes of group members creating awareness on COVID19.

Families are very receptive whenever we visit them. They always say that no one else ever sat with them to talk about the COVID-19 virus – they have only heard from some people who have radios.

We have targeted widows, elderly people, disabled people and needy members of the groups for the training. We usually involve available family members and neighbours in the training who listen keenly.

After explaining to the group leaders the category of members we want to train, they walk with us to those homes which are spread out around the villages for the whole day. We often also engage Community Health Workers who are members of the groups to walk with us.

We normally put in a lot of time and effort to achieve the daily targets: we leave the office at 9am and sometimes come back home at 8pm. Some communities are mountainous; we do a lot of climbing and walking on slippery paths since nowadays it rains in the communities a lot more than in Mbale town. 

Like you have been reading from the daily reports, some families are very ignorant about the signs and symptoms of the virus, others have little knowledge on the virus and others have myths about it. One myth is that when you take waragi [local alcoholic brew] you don’t contract the virus, the other is that when you take chlorine and wash your hands with it; you don’t contract the virus and the other way of washing off the virus from your hands is by use of wood ash.

The posters have greatly added value on the training most families normally  ask for more posters for their relatives and friends. We have entrusted community posters to those homes nearby the roads, churches, schools and others the stall/shop keepers in trading centres.

That is what we have experienced so far.”

In the first phase of the project, Zebbie, Loyce and Martin from the Mbale CAP staff team and a couple of trained volunteers have been visiting individual families at their homes (families of Self Help Group members) to provide training on the dangers from and ways to combat coronavirus. The training emphasises in particular the importance of handwashing using soap to minimise the spread of the virus within communities. To reinforce this, each family is given a bar of soap – which many of them would not be able to afford to buy at the moment.


The team travel out by hired car to the rural areas, as public transport is still limited and they are carrying a lot of soap! Then they walk to local homes, where of course they remain outside at a safe social distance, wearing masks. Having a staff team ensures consistent health messages are shared, but as they usually join up with local volunteers and sometimes NGO workers, the messages are spread more widely. Families and communities are given posters in the local language Lumasaaba to remind them of them information they’ve been told.

Read more reports from the communities they visited...

4th August – Kasonko Tubana Group

“Most people in this community have no radios to listen various teachings on COVID19. They hear from their fellow community people that there is a strange disease which kills people if you don’t wash hands.”

28th July – Siira Yetana Group

“The families did not have sufficient knowledge on COVID-19 however after creating awareness they promised to share with their relatives and neighbours.”

4th August – Bumasikye Yetana Group

“The community is too remote that no information about COVID 19 had reached them. The families were happy when they got the training and the soap.”

20th July – Nabumali Tilana Group

“The posters really added value on the training. They were excited to receive them to continue reminding themselves about COVID 19 and also teach their neighbours and other relatives about COVID 19. They so much appreciated the love and care.”

20th July – Nabumali Tubana Group

“The families appreciated the awareness on corona virus. They had some knowledge on corona virus but not sufficient to keep them safe. The members and the family members were excited to see the educators and said that ‘we are now encouraged and know that they are friends who care about us’.”

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