Posted on December 21, 2018
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This Christmas, we all at ACT wish you joy and peace. Our wish is that you may spare a thought for those left disadvantaged and vulnerable by circumstances outside their control.
Our mission is to support disadvantaged widows, orphans and communities through initiatives which empower, educate and economically develop their lives. We want to see them break through the cycle of poverty that otherwise may prevail.
Our work extends to 8 African countries; Burkina Faso, Congo DR, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
This is where it all began…
In 1998, ACT started funding Christine’s education. She was our very first child, ten years old at the time and the youngest of seven children. Her family lives in Chingola, Zambia, in the Northern
Copperbelt – close to the border with the Republic of Congo.
Christine’s father died in a copper mine accident when she was just six years old. Her mother, Elizabeth, who had up until then been at home with the children, struggled to find employment to provide for her family.
Elizabeth was able to enrol Christine in a local school. However, she was sadly all too aware that Christine’s time there would most likely be short, as she could not afford the tuition fees.
Through contact with our partner organisation in Zambia, ACT began supporting Christine, who was blossoming at school. With our help, she was able to complete high school.
At the same time, ACT helped Elizabeth to develop a trade through ACT Widows Support, selling food items in the local market. Participation in this programme allowed her to earn a reliable income and better support her family. Twenty (20) years on, Christine, who completed secondary school in 2010, now lives in Lusaka, Zambia and works as a secretary for a local company.
“ACT made all the difference to where I am today in life. I am forever grateful”
Education and financial independence allow people to develop and maximise their potential. In this instance it gave a poor single mother dignity and peace of mind, as well as giving her daughter the gift of education – something many of us take for granted. Without a place in school, it is likely that Christine would have been a child labourer and forced into marriage at a young age. Thanks to their hard work, alongside the support they received from ACT, both Christine and Elizabeth’s worlds widened dramatically.
This is simply where the story began. In the 20 years since our inception, we have grown and developed into a wide-ranging organisation. Here are some examples of the work we do across Africa:
Our Ulemu project in Malawi seeks to tackle the issue of girls leaving school when they begin menstruation. It does so by educating young girls about the importance of taking care of both their sexual and menstrual health. Part of the project also involves teaching their mothers how to make their own re-usable sanitary pads. This twin approach breaks down the social stigma of menstruation and helps girls from poor backgrounds to stay on in education, as opposed to being pressured into early marriages.
Village MBA -Empowering Widows
This project assists widows in starting, maintaining and growing their own businesses so that they can generate income to support their families. First, we provide a space for widows to meet and build relationships, so they feel less isolated. Next, we encourage these women to assess their strengths and weaknesses and come up with their own potential business opportunities. Once suitable ideas have been formulated, we begin a formal training programme, (otherwise known as the Village MBA), to help the women create a business plan and strategy. We then offer seed funding and continual support. This approach has been particularly successful in Burkina Faso, where we have supported over 300 widows in this way. Through this initiative, Collette Ilboudou was able to turn her idea of making clothes into a profitable business, which now employs other widows.
At ACT we don’t jump in and jump out: we offer continual support. Therefore, it is always such a joy to see ACT graduates passing on their wisdom and support to the next generation through the ACT Alumni group. Jaques Tonde (right), was one such individual we helped through education. Following the completion of his University studies, Jaques decided to bring together other ACT graduates to form an Alumni network. The idea proved popular, and an official group was formed in 2017. In 2018 the ACT Alumni Group of Burkina Faso raised 70,000CFA (£80) to support more children in Burkina Faso. It fills us with immense pride knowing that our graduates are helping to support the next generation of graduates. It is our hope that this cycle will continue indefinitely.
This is just a snapshot of the various projects we carry out, as well as our working ethos which puts self-help and a holistic approach to charity at its core. We empower some of the most vulnerable people on the planet and in turn, they empower us.
This Christmas, it is our wish that you will remember the disadvantaged orphan girls and boys and the poor widows in Africa. You can sponsor a child, empower a widow or support a community project. By supporting our work you will be helping to transform their lives. To donate to our work, please click here.
For more information about the work we undertake, please visit our website
We wish you a joyful Christmas!