For every 1,000 live births in Uganda, 137 children under the age of five die. To put this into perspective, in the United States, that number is 7.5 children.
Why are so many kids in Uganda not making it to their fifth birthday? The majority of the deaths are caused by malnutrition and disease, both of which are preventable. Many children could be saved with proper nutrition, better hygiene, mosquito nets, and basic vaccinations and antibiotics.
Uganda has a goal of reducing the child mortality rate in the next three years from 137 to 57 (which was the world average in 2010). Many organizations are doing great work to help with this goal. We have had the privilege of working with one such organization called Africa Renewal Ministries. One of the ways they are helping children is through the Early Childhood Development Program in Gaba, which we visited earlier this month. This program is helping give young preschoolers (ages one to three years old) a chance to beat the odds. Africa Renewal searches for the children in the most desperate need in the community and invites them into this program. In addition to learning their ABC’s, these children are receiving the nutrition and health care they need to make it to their fifth birthdays. You can read more about our visit in our prior posts:
Africa Renewal Ministries is providing help and hope for these children. Families are encouraged to pay a small fee to help support the school, but this does not even cover the expenses for their own child. When these children reach the age of three, they will only be able to continue in an Africa Renewal school program if they have a sponsor. At this time, only 6 out of the 50 children in the ECDP have current sponsorship. All of the remaining 44 children in this program are in great need, but after speaking with the teachers, here are a few children who would be at the top of the list.
Sharifa has burns over much of her body that limit many of her movements, but not her smile. She found a special place in our hearts in the short time that we got to spend with her.
If you are interested in finding out more about sponsorship, please visit the Africa Renewal Ministries website: http://www.africarenewal.org/
Jill and Joline