Empower and Care Organization (EACO) began as a community-based initiative in Uganda with the goal of providing effective skills for vulnerable men, women, and children. EACO was founded by Shadrak Kyobe and a local collective, which quickly extended through Uganda as there is significant need for their services.
“There is great potential and aspiration found within the people of Uganda, but they are bound by the absence of education, health, and empowerment” says Kyobe “and these are issues that cannot be solved by surface-level solutions because they are part of a deep-rooted need for systemic change.”
Currently completing their work integrated learning practicum virtually with EACO, Global Health graduate students, Kristele Pan and Angela Nguyen, have the opportunity to put into practice the theory, concepts, and methods that are taught to students throughout the program.
With a focus on improving menstrual health and hygiene management, Angela and Kristele have initiated a project with schoolgirls in a local Ugandan community. As poor menstrual hygiene management and menstrual stigma drive school absenteeism and dropouts among schoolgirls in Uganda, the goal is to increase awareness and provide the tools to improve menstrual health and hygiene through community-based solutions
Driven by their passion for United Nations’ SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 5 (Gender Equity) and SDG 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), and to develop future economic opportunities for girls in these communities, the project aims to:
In the initial stages of developing the project proposal, Kristele and Angela were reflective of the skills learned throughout the year, which prompted important questions such as: How do we make sure the information we are conveying to communities and students is culturally relevant and something they’ll care about?, Which health concern should we focus our resources on?, Who will be monitoring and maintaining these interventions on a day-to-day basis?, and others alike.
Both graduate students have noted that the Global Health program’s Foundations II course impacted them tremendously by providing the necessary skills and applied knowledge to develop a successful project proposal. Additionally, they feel equipped to think critically and reflect on their positionality in order to envision and implement a project that echoes the needs of the local community.
“Being placed outside the academic bubble and realizing that my actions and choices can impact a community for the better or worse can be overwhelming but also motivating at the same time,” Kristele says, “I think this sentiment is something that will make me constantly reflect and evaluate my work in global health to ensure communities truly benefit in the long-run”.
Students highlight that working alongside EACO has fostered a self-orientated work ethic, which allows for creativity and the opportunity to learn about local practical considerations and perspectives.
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