Deborah Malac

The outgoing U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, has launched a campaign dubbed ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.’

The launch event took place days ago at Waluwerere Church of Uganda Primary School in Bugiri District and was attended by the Bugiri District leadership and other officials, along with students and teachers.

The event highlighted the U.S. government’s commitment to prevent gender-based violence through its programs, including the USAID/Uganda Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity (LARA) that works to improve children’s reading skills in 3,450 primary schools in 43 districts of Uganda.

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LARA is currently expanding to Bugiri, and in coordination with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is launching its Journeys program to prevent and respond to HIV and gender-based violence in 25 government-aided primary schools in the district.

In her remarks at the event, Malac said, “The introduction of this program into the school is dependent on the teachers, but the parent and community components are in your hands.  For those of you here who are parents, from one parent to another I ask you please to engage with your school and utilize the opportunities for parental and community involvement in this program.  Make it a success!”

As part of the campaign activities, Malac and students toured the U.S. Mission’s Nile Explorer Bus, a library and computer lab on wheels.  Supported through a partnership between the U.S. Mission and a Ugandan technology incubator called HIVE Colab. The bus promotes literacy; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills; and life skills for Ugandan school children in underserved rural areas.  U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers regularly contribute to the Nile Explorer’s teaching activities throughout the country, and Peace Corps participated in Monday’s launch.

Through the life skills component of the bus, the children at Waluwerere Church Primary School will receive an introduction to the Journeys curriculum throughout this week.

In addition, the U.S. Mission has provided the bus with handouts for the community containing violence reporting and victim support resources, including the 116 Uganda Child Help Line (UCHL).

The bus will stay in Bugiri for one week to involve students in innovative educational activities, introduce the LARA/Journeys curriculum, and provide GBV reporting resources, before moving to other areas of Uganda.

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