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Memory Book training has reached remote islands
They work hard to make sure their voices are heard on all issues that affect them.The organisation’s work includes community education programmes, advocacy, business projects and vocational training for young positive women. But most important is NACOA’s Memory Book Project training programme.
Some of NACOA’s members have been involved with the Memory Book since it was first brought to Uganda in 1995/6. In fact, at a time when it was almost unheard of for people to admit they had HIV or Aids, they were among the first women to stand up and talk openly about their status. This was the start of a long journey on which the women wanted help to learn how to talk openly to their own children and start to prepare them for the uncertain future. It was out of the experiences of women like these that the Memory Project Training programme was developed and right up to now NACOA trainers are put on workshops based on the original programme that they helped to create. They make special efforts to reach marginalized families and those living in remote areas who don’t have the chance to attend more conventional training courses.
Recent training work in partnership with ActionAid.
In November 2009 NACOA worked in partnership with ActionAid International (Uganda) to take Memory Project training to families living on remote islands on Lake Victoria, an area where there is virtually no infrastructure and where ideas on disclosure, talking to children and planning for their future had never reached before. Nevertheless 27 people, men as well as women, took part in a programme which helped them to understand the importance of opening up to their children and starting the hard work of preparing them for permanent separation. They also made a start on writing their own Memory Books and came to understand the importance of naming guardians and making a will.
The NACOA trainers found that many of the workshop members had scarcely started to cope with the condition of their lives and the emotional impact of the training was almost overwhelming. No doubt because they lived so remotely and were cut off from the information and changes which circulate in more urban areas, the workshop content was entirely new. This highlighted the importance of making sure that all workshop members are well prepared and no what they are letting themselves in for before the programme starts.
Despite being quite shocked by the workshop ideas, it was impressive that many of the trainees were keen to introduce memory project activities into their homes. So a few months later NACOA trainers went back to the islands to work with a group of children – and this worked out well.
Project partnership with Ashinaga, NGO.
Subsequently NACOA has carried out other training activities including in June 2009 a workshop for guardians (mainly grandparents) of orphaned children. This was done in partnership with a Japanese NGO called Ashinaga, whose main focus is to support orphaned children with education. The aim in this case was to help guardians understand something about child development and to feel confident to be more open about family secrets so that children would have better understanding of their situation and guardians could live a less stressful life.
Updates on NACOA’s work and insights will be added from time to time. If you want more information, or if you are in a position to help NACOA to keep up with their work, please contact Alice Tusiime, Chair of NACOA, on NACOA [dot] Uganda [at] gmail [dot] com