The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project…is giving a hand up to several thousand of the most deprived orphans in southwestern Uganda. Education is our mission but we take a unique holistic human rights-based approach to ending the cycle of poverty that incorporates 7,000 elderly grandmothers as well.
Most recently, Founder and Executive Director Twesigye Jackson Kaguri has been selected a 2012 CNN Hero for his tireless efforts to bring education to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Uganda. CNN Heroes are Everyday People Changing the World. They are people who are making extraordinary contributions to those in need – like our students and grandmothers, the true unsung heroes of The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. In addition, Kaguri is a published author of "A School For My Village " that recounts the challenges and triumphs of building Nyaka Primary School.
Out of a population of approximately 31 million, Uganda's HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in over 2.2 million orphaned children who have lost one or both parents. In addition to the trauma of losing a parent, orphans go without many of the basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. While the African extended family has traditionally stepped in to support orphans, the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has overburdened this traditional safety net. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project was born out of this crisis.
The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is working on behalf of HIV/AIDS orphans in rural Uganda to end systemic deprivation, poverty and hunger through a holistic approach to community development, education, and healthcare.
We envision the rural communities of Uganda able to build strong community and family structures using holistic and sustainable approaches that address challenges they face due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with a particular emphasis on grandmothers.
NAOP operates two primary schools in two rural villages in Uganda. Our highly trained teachers and support staff are educating 487 children this year, which includes 60 preschool aged children. We are also paying for 97 students to attend secondary school.
NAOP is directly responsible for 584 children's education in 2012 - an 11% increase from last year.
A very unique aspect of our organization is that our schools are completely free to attend and children are guaranteed an education through high school from the moment they are enrolled. We believe this creates buy-in from the students to perform at their highest potential. It is working - in 2010 Nyaka Students performed in the top 3% out of 220 schools in the district! Twenty-eight out of 29 students graduated with a B or higher in 2011 – all but one student who is learning a trade through vocational school!
In addition to providing a quality education in a nurturing environment, we include two meals per day, uniforms, books, medical care, and supplies to the students.
As a part of our holistic human rights-based approach to combating pervasive hunger and poverty, we serve nearly 7,000 grandmothers, through 91 support groups. This outreach allows NAOP to help an additional 34,525 children living in these grandmothers' homes. Having tragically lost their own children to AIDS they are now raising their orphaned grandchildren without social security, health care, retirement, child welfare, or basic housing. Nyaka supports these unsung heroes by providing them economic opportunities that help them to care for their grandchildren.
We employ several Grandmother Coordinators who train them on practical life skills such as parenting, grief management, gardening, nursing, leadership, and business development. In addition, NAOP provided the most destitute grannies with over 150 new stable homes, kitchens, and pit latrines last year, as well as a microfinance program where they make goods like baskets and jewelry that is sold in the United States. To see samples, please go to www.nyakaschool.org/microfinance.
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