Rose Academies Honors Their Graduating Fellows in Moving Ceremony
by Douglas Mubiru
Production Journalist @New Vision
Jul 05, 2023
It was already a charged afternoon as 6 of Rose Academies’ Fellows gave testimony to their experience as a volunteer in this unique fellowship program, when Godfrey Nsamba took the floor both literally and figuratively. His emotional testimony brought tears to many of the participants’ eyes as he thanked Rose not only for bringing him back to life, but for giving him love that he didn’t have before. Godfrey has cerebral palsy and has been instrumental in reaching out to families that have disabled children to give them hope and inspiration.
Rose Academies Uganda is an international non-profit NGO that has been developing and implementing educational programs for the oppressed rural poor since 2014.
This graduation ceremony marks the third time a group of young Ugandan adults have participated in the Rose Academies’ Fellowship Program. For a year, these six fellows have been working in the rural poor villages of Wakiso, Buikwe and Kanungu to improve the health and welfare of women before, during, and after pregnancy, provide educational guidance on health practices and teach families how to improve nutrition as their goal is to reduce malnutrition and preventable deaths of children.
They do not diagnose, dispense medication, or assume the role of qualified health practitioners, as was explained by Program Director, Clare Ainomugisha.
Rose Academies-Uganda’s Program Director, Clare Ainomugisha, explains about the organization’s primary objective. Seated to her right is Meagan Miller, Texas A&M Public Health Graduate student, interning at Rose for her practicum project.
“Our primary objective is to educate rural women about neonatal health, nutrition, menstrual health and hygiene, family planning, and disease prevention so that families and infants live an improved healthcare practice,” Ainomugisha stressed.
She made the utterances Friday (June 30, 2023) at Avesta Hotel in Kisaasi-Kyanja, Kampala during the graduation of the six trainees. The graduates included Reagan Muhame, Tracela Nanskombi, Raymond Nganda, Godfrey Nsamba, Martin Ariho, and Agnes Nabagesera.
“Our fellowship program has been impactful to the rural poor and through health education workshops, fellows have reached over 2,000 beneficiaries in 50 villages across Buikwe, Soroti, and Kanungu,” Ainomugisha remarked.
Saving Children’s Lives By Sharing Knowledge
Presiding over the ceremony, Rose Academies’ Chief Executive Officer, Susan Stasi, said how proud she was of the graduates, insisting that the more fellows they train, the more lives they are likely to change and improve.
“We are unique in our methodology. We are educators and teach- our primary goal is to share the gift of healthcare knowledge that will save a child’s life,” Stasi told the crowd.
Stasi also addressed the call for gender equality stating that programs that involve men are the basis for change which was clearly demonstrated in their vocational skills program.
“Last year in Soroti district, we graduated 126 students from our baking and tailoring classes. Out of those graduates, 18 were young men. These classes have empowered our beneficiaries, giving them skills that have allowed them to earn an income for the first time in their lives.” Stasi stated. “These classes are also backed with our workshops on financial literacy so that our beneficiaries can learn how to save money from their newly developed skills.”
Uganda’s High Child Mortality Rates
According to Word Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 5 million children under the age of 5 years died in 2020, mostly from preventable and treatable causes. Approximately half of those deaths, or 2.4 million, occurred among newborns (in the first 28 days of life).
While the global under 5 mortality rate (U5MR) fell to 37 deaths per1000 live births in 2020, children in sub-Saharan Africa continued to have the highest rates of mortality in the world at 74 deaths per 1000 livebirths, which is 14 times higher than the risk for children in Europe and North America.
It’s from this background that Ainomugisha said, “The leading causes of death in Uganda’s children under 5 years of age are preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia/trauma, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, all of which can be prevented or treated with access to affordable interventions in health and sanitation.”
Rose Academies’ Director of Nutrition, Haidar Luboobi, explained that access to basic lifesaving interventions such as improved postnatal care, nutrition, sexual reproductive health and disease prevention can save many young lives.
Luboobi said the fellows, who received certificates upon completion of the one-year training were trained on what they should provide to the communities.
He explained that access to basic lifesaving interventions such as postnatal care, breastfeeding and adequate nutrition, vaccinations, and treatment for common childhood diseases can save many young lives.
“We have trained these fellows on what exactly they should provide to the community. We have done this before, and these parents have been taught cheaply available basics to feed children. This has worked and we have borne fruits,” Luboobi remarked.
Leaders speak out
The Buikwe District Health Officer (DHO), Richard Bossa, who was represented by Maria Nantume, the area Community Development Officer (CDO), thanked Rose Academies for aiding their district, majorly in the fishing communities.
“Though our needs are still wanting, we want to thank Rose Academies for aiding our people. The girl child in our communities has really not remained the same since the organization’s intervention.
We really appreciate it and urge you to help us train more fellows who will take on the mantle of counseling, training, and educating our people in future in case you’re to leave our district,” requested Nantume.
Luwero pleads for Rose’s services
In his remarks, Ismail Nyanzi, the CDO in Busika Town Council, Luwero District pleaded for the organisation’s free services in his area.
“In our last council meeting, we learned that many girls were missing school due to lack of pads. We visited several government schools and Senior Women teachers confirmed.
We, therefore, request you, Rose Academies, to bring your services to our district. We really need partners to see our communities also change, beyond what the government provides,” said Nyanzi.
He assured the organization that Luwero’s political officers and community members are focused on development and hope to work together in the future.
Graduates speak out
Along with Rose Uganda Fellow Godfrey, other fellows chimed in with their glowing remarks about the opportunities they were given when they joined the fellowship program. Raymond Nganda, said he was passionate about communal work and as a fellow he was able to learn new skills, share knowledge with others, and improve his skills by engaging in practical work. Finally, Fellow Tracella Nansikombi said she plans to carry on the organisation’s legacy after her graduation by continuing to help the more vulnerable to better their lives.
A Unique Program for Young Adults
Rose Academies’ Fellowship Program provides career opportunities for young adults, promotes leadership, use of technology, business, and organizational skills, and creates educators of healthcare and nutrition, among others. The fellows also collect data for research studies as they continue to build on their educational programs designed to reduce preventable deaths and improve the health and welfare of the rural poor.
The ceremony concluded with each graduate receiving a certificate of completion and an acknowledgement of a job well done.