Local women make life better for 24 impoverished youth in Uganda

By Sam Mcneish

Sitting around Marjorie Williams’ kitchen table, the four sets of eyes gathered to share a story told all you needed to know about their tale.

Those eyes exposed the souls of the four women who have taken on a project that potentially could save generations of people in Uganda.
Their eyes lit up — and welled up — as they explained the simplest of things their efforts were able to provide for 24 impoverished youth through a group they founded called HOPE (Helping Orphans Prosper through Education).

That joy mimicked the look in the eyes of the children they are helping shown in the photos provided to The Telegram taken during a recent trip to Uganda, proving their venture is making a difference.

Started in 2015, the group, comprised of Marie Woodford, Madlyn Carew and Williams, through conversations started by Woodford, who had previously visited the region and worked with orphan children, decided something had to be done on some scale to make a difference. This group has now grown to four women, as project supporter Betty Whalen has decided to become more active in the efforts.

Another Newfoundlander – Catherine Bailey – who is from St. John’s, is also volunteering with the group and helped to co-ordinate Christmas in Uganda, packages of gifts and personal items for each of the students to receive and put to good use.

The original three travelled together in 2015 to see what they could do and during that visit purchased goats, chickens and a cow to help the village sustain itself.

In 2016, they were able to provide beds, mattresses, food, medical supplies, school supplies and additional items that were needed by these children.

“We learned very quickly you can’t just go and drop things off to these children and we needed to follow protocols to ensure they got the help we wanted to provide,’’ Williams said.

“What we do is important ­– for a child, a family, a village, a country and the world,” she added.

To make this happen, they partnered with a group called Love is the Answer (LITA), a registered Canadian charity that helps orphaned children in the manner the women sought to support them.

Catherine Koch, who is from Vancouver, lives in Uganda and is their boots on the ground at the orphanage and school.

“When I was there in 2015, I saw how dire the circumstances were for these children. I just knew I had to do something to help. They were having warm water for supper,” Woodford said.

“When I came back and started to get this organized, Madlyn and Marjorie got involved and we went back in August. We all knew we were in this for the long haul,” she added.

In addition, they found education helped them to understand there was a future for them, far greater than what the youths ever realized.

As an example, education empowers young girls in so many ways. They would not have to endure childhood marriage, rape and the traditions of female genital mutilation.

“If we broke this link for 24 children, that was 24 lives changed, 24 families changed, 24 villages changed,” Williams said.

“Education helps children break the poverty cycle, opens so many doors for them, and breaks down barriers.’’

Continued growth

They started with 10 children in 2017 and decided for 2018 they would expand their work and support 24 children in school.

A visit to the school in June and reviewing the students’ report cards showed what they were providing was working, as their grades had markedly improved.

Their efforts have seen the group be able to fund computers for the school, and sewing machines, which allowed the girls — and boys, too — to learn to be seamstresses and tailors. In addition, a library was set up in the Jinja Primary Boarding School and, during the trip in June, the group established a partnership with a doctor who does monthly check-ups on the students to ensure they are remaining healthy and offset any medical issues that arise.

“By getting them the education they need, we are helping to make a difference,” Carew said.

“You can’t take education away from them. It will help them now and long into the future to make better lives for themselves The support we are receiving (from friends and colleagues) is more than we ever expected.”

Of the 24 students, two have HIV, and many times members of the group have suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, mumps, measles, typhoid fever and worms.

“We are hoping that through early detection, the diseases will not become severe or even fatal,’’ Williams said.

“The funding for their medical needs, travel to medical centres and additional unexpected costs are now provided so they can enjoy safe, healthy and happy lives.”

The children range in age from four to 16, and the women have committed to the 13 years it will take to get them educated. In fact, the four of them are adamant there is no way they are abandoning them and will see this through just as they would with their own children.

It was that thought process, and a multitude of conversations and stories from her friends, that led Whalen into the fold.

“I had always been behind the scenes and quite easily was able to raise money to help out. Many times I didn’t need to ask and everyone around me jumped in to donate to this project for me,’’ Whalen said.
“But I wanted to do more, and this is why I am so happy to be part of this worthwhile venture.”

Whalen had tears well up in her eyes when talking about and thinking of what the children are facing.

That impact shows they have the right group to spearhead an endeavour like this.

“You look at what is being done, things like Marjorie going out and collecting glasses for the children, as at least one was suffering vision issues.”

Support from afar
The support doesn’t just stop at the front and back doors of these four women.

Williams sought support from a host of people, including someone who has deep ties to Newfoundland and Labrador.

She sent a letter to Dennis Ryan, an Irish-Canadian folk musician, best known as a member of the popular Irish-Newfoundland band Ryan’s Fancy formed in 1970 with Fergus O’Byrne and the late Dermot O’Reilly.

Williams got far more than she bargained for. Not only did she find financial support, but gained one of the biggest cheerleaders the project could have asked for in Ryan.

“What these ladies are doing, driven by Marjorie, is amazing. All they do goes directly to these kids and is making a huge difference in their lives,’’ Ryan said.

“This is a new charity, but it goes without saying I am these ladies’ No. 1 fan. I am touched and moved by this whole thing and was only too glad to help when they reached out to me.”
Ryan, along with his bandmates and friends, moved to St. John’s in 1971 to attend Memorial University.

Ryan said he was supposed to do a concert in St. John’s in December in support of HOPE, but logistics didn’t allow that to happen, so when spring arrives he will look to put something together to support the project. Details will be announced once they are in place.

“It is proof that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when they put their mind to it. You don’t have to be part of a big organization to do this. Just look at what these women have done in a short period of time,” he said.

“I am so enthusiastic about this project, so much that I got on the phone and shared it with a bunch of my friends, so they could get involved too,” he added, noting those people were quick to ante up for the project.

Source Northern Pen


More than 50 youths seeking to join KDF conned in Kenya


Some of the youth who were turned away during the Kenya Defence Forces recruitment drive in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on Sunday have admitted that they were conned.

They told KDF officials that they paid up to Sh300,000, for “recruitment letters”, but their hopes were dashed when they were caught with fake documents.

By the end of the drive at the Recruit Training School in Eldoret town, more than 50 suspects had been arrested with fake recruitment letters and were to be charged.

KDF spokesperson Paul Njuguna said they had warned potential recruits to be alert to avoid being conned.

“We had warned Kenyans to be on the lookout because many people out there con jobless youths whenever such opportunities arise,” he said.

A victim who declined to be named said her father paid a senior officer at the Lanet Barracks Sh300,000 to facilitate her recruitment. “Part of the money was paid in cash and the balance via M-Pesa and we were given the recruitment letter,” she said.

Some youths are said to have sold property, including land, to raise money for letters.

Col Njuguna said those arrested are being held in different police stations in Eldoret town and will be charged after investigations are completed.

According to Col Njuguna, those who were arrested confessed that they paid up to Sh300,000 for appointment letters.


“It is unfortunate that some people have taken advantage of very innocent Kenyans to fleece them of millions of money on grounds that they are going to employ them. This should not be happening in this age and era,” explained Col Njuguna.

Last year, more than 60 youths were arrested with fake appointment letters were charged.

In April, police in Kilifi arrested a man suspected to have conned youth of more than Sh2 million by promising to recruit them into the KDF. He was arrested in a hotel in Malindi Town.

Police said he is the ring leader of a syndicate that has been operating in Mombasa and Kilifi counties, conning unsuspecting youth looking for jobs.

He had been masquerading as a Kenya Navy officer, Mtwapa OCPD Joseph Muriuki said.

Source Daily Nation

First Bank moves to tackle youth unemployment in Nigeria

First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., on last Thursday reiterated its commitment to tackling the nation’s rising unemployment rate with youth empowerment initiatives aimed at wealth creation.

Mr Gbenga Shobo, the bank’s Deputy Managing Director, speaking in Lagos on the sidelines of the youth empowerment initiative with the theme “Goals. Grit. Grind.” said that the bank would remain committed on ways to tackle the nation’s unemployment rate by catching them young.

“We like the youths to start understanding wealth and how to create wealth.

“You also understand that in Nigeria now, it’s a bit of unemployment and we want to start early with the youths to start teaching them how to create wealth, especially outside the formal employment,” Shobo said.

He said that the youth empowerment initiative which started in 2017 was introduced to strengthen financial inclusion and as well make the youths independent, instead of relying on their parents for everything.

“We want to start young and we have two sets of people here today — 9 to 13 years and older ones — we don’t think it’s too young at all to reach out to the youths segment.

“Some of them who were here last year have used what they learnt to be financially independent. A lot of them have started doing things on their own, while waiting for formal employment.

“We will continue to do this series to strengthen economic growth and development,” Shobo said. He said that the bank, through the initiative, had instituted various investment clubs for mentoring of youths to enhance financial freedom.

“Some of them have investment clubs; we are involved in some of these investment clubs, so, within those clubs, we help to mentor them,”the deputy managing director said.

He said the bank had introduced other financial inclusion strategies that make it easier for people to open an account without stress. Dr Aderemi Banjoko, Director & Founder, dbkMarkets, a global online trading company, who was the guest speaker, tasked the youths on wealth creation, money management and investment.

Speaking on the topic “Financial literacy for youths”, Banjoko said that knowledge was key to financial literacy and management.

He said that financial literacy entails ability to make informed judgements and take effective decisions regarding the use and management of money.

Banjoko stressed the need for diversification of investment to minimise risk, noting that investing in different asset classes remained the main thing.

He urged the participants to invest in stocks and shares, money market mutual fund such as commercial papers, treasury bills, among others.

Banjoko enjoined them to invest through financial experts in order not to make mistakes, advising that investing through mutual funds would be safer for them.

This article was first published on Vanguard

The drug abuse problem across Africa is finally drawing global attention

By Yomi Kazeem

The United Nations is shining the spotlight on rampant drug abuse and trafficking across African cities.

In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council, Yury Fedotov, head of the UN’s office on drugs and crime says his office is “registering new alarming trends on drug trafficking in West and Central Africa with disruptive and destabilizing effects on governance, security, economic growth, and public health.”

The agency says west, north and central Africa jointly account for 87% of all pharmaceutical opiates seized globally.

Drug abuse—particularly of opioids like codeine and Tramadol—is a problem governments in the regions have attempted to tackle. In March, Quartz Africa wrote about the problem of youth addiction to opioids spreading across Africa. After a BBC investigation in May uncovered large-scale corruption at major pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria, the government banned importation and production of codeine-based cough syrups.

For its part, Ghana’s food and drug agency has also tried to regulate the opioid imports. But the effectiveness of these measures will depend on shutting down transit routes in neighboring Benin which was named the world’s second largest destination for Indian Tramadol in 2016 by the US State Department. Recent evidence suggests the efforts remain futile: Nigerian officials seized over half a billion tablets of Tramadol in two high-profile raids at the country’s biggest port over last month.

The drug abuse problem in Africa’s cuts across societal classes as UN’s drug agency estimates there were more than 34 million cannabis users and 1.8 million cocaine users in west and central Africa in 2016. Unlike expensive narcotics, opioids are more easily accessible as they mostly cost less than $5.

Many young people across the continent are also turning to a range of unconventional concoctions—including smoking lizard dung and sniffing urine, petrol and fermented sewage—for a cheap high. Crucially, the UN agency also estimates that only one in 18 drug users with addiction issues have access to appropriate medical treatment.

This article was first published on Quartz Africa

Youths guarantee Atiku 18m votes for agreeing to restructure Nigeria

By Emma Amaize

THE 21st Century Youths of Nigeria for Restructuring, weekend, assured the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of 18, 077, 427 votes from its members in nine states of the country because of his promise to restructure the country with his first 100 days in office if elected president in 2019.

The group in a statement by the leader, Izon Ebi, also condemned the gruesome murder of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, giving the Federal Government and its security agencies a seven-day ultimatum to fish out the killers to “assuage the people and exonerate themselves from any complicity.”

“We want to assure the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that 18,077,427 votes are already intact waiting.”

“We urge all Nigerians to cast their votes for the PDP and be more determined to defend their votes for Atiku Abubakar, who has promised us not only security of life and property, but to restructure the country in his first 100 days in office,” it said.

According to the group, “We are using this opportunity to inform all our members to dust their permanent votes card PVC, to vote out this APC government that has failed in all ramifications. We are also using this medium to inform all our members to be very ready and organize themselves peacefully, steadfast and more importantly be very ready to defend their votes with the last drop of their blood.” Calling for seven days of sober reflection, the group added,

“We cannot continue in this type of insecurity, hunger, excruciating hardship and killings all over Nigeria as if we are at war. We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to join hands with us and vote out the APC government that has failed because the killings do not respect old, young, rich, poor or political parties.”

On Badeh’s assassination by unknown gunmen, it said, “We are giving Mr President and the security agents seven days to bring the killers of Alex Badeh to book to assuage us and exonerate themselves of any complicity.”

“If a former Chief of Defense Staff could be assassinated in such a shameful manner like a common criminal in our capital, Abuja, what then is the fate of ordinary Nigerians,” it said.

This article was first published on Vanguard