It has been an eventful year, with conflict, inflation and climate change affecting the lives of people around the globe. We are especially grateful to our friends and supporters for sticking with us despite these challenges. Our life-changing mental health projects are needed more than ever in the world’s forgotten places. Thank you for helping us through these challenging times. We wish you a joyous holiday season and a healthy, successful 2023.
- In 2022 we started an entrepreneurship training programme with young genocide survivors who attend our counselling groups. Designed to break the cycle of poverty and mental illness, it trains the participants on all aspects of business, helping them develop business plans and secure financing. So far we have reached 49 young genocide survivors – 24 have already started small businesses and 25 are doing farming activities.
- Some of young genocide survivors in our peer support counselling programme do charitable works in their community. They’ve helped other participants to renovate their old houses, and they also join them in preparing for the planting season. The praise and thanks they receive builds their confidence.
- We have secured more funding to roll out our support in this neglected community. We are expanding our provision of epilepsy medication to 83 new clients who previously had no way to access or afford such life-changing medication.
- We distributed livelihood resources to 180 self-help group members, allowing recipients to start small businesses. They are all saving money on a weekly basis, and they say these cash-generating activities mean they can keep their children in school. Nor do they need to move away for work in search of work during this financial crisis. Many of our war-survivor amputee self-help group members who used to beg on the streets of Freetown are now supporting themselves and their families, thanks to their business activities.
- We secured a new 3-year grant enabling us to take our community mental health model to two new sub-counties in northern Uganda, which have previously had no mental health support. Attendance at the first community awareness sessions and mental health clinics (over 200 people each time) demonstrated the enormous need for this work. We have also been able to recruit a psychiatric nurse onto the team, adding value to the reputation and credibility of our Uganda partner BNUU.
- The 35 self-help groups that have been supported with livelihoods over the past 2 years are thriving. The impact on the participants’ mental health and outlook on life is impressive. A woman who had lost everything – her house had burned down and she was ready to give up such was her depression and sense of hopelessness – but now has fields of sunflowers, a small quarry, four pigs, a few cows and a massive vegetable garden. And a man with severe epilepsy and a hearing impairment, who had had to drop out of school and return home to support his family when his two brothers were killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, now has a thriving bicycle repair business with five employees. The groups are also proudly growing food together in their vegetable gardens.
I remain indebted to our staff and volunteers both in the UK/USA and Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
I am also indebted to you for helping us through difficult times like this. Thank you.
Rebecca Tinsley (Founder, Network for Africa)