Pepal returns from its first International Women's Leadership Challenge in Uganda. One of the partnerships, the Ugandan Red Cross and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), came together to increase the collection of safe blood in Uganda in order to save lives of women and children in need of blood. The NHSBT participants, Beverley Allen and Jackie Morgan, worked alongside their Ugandan counterparts, Lydia Akello and Sarah Mutegombwa, to develop ambitious plans to increase blood supplies in Uganda. Their first joint initiative “the Billy Campaign” is due to be piloted in a hospital in Northern Uganda in March. “I stayed up all night wondering how we could use the Billy Blood Drop toys to spread the message into the communities” said Beverley. After much deliberation, the group decided that a Billy toy will be given to every child in St Mary's Hospital Lacor whose life is saved through a blood transfusion. Back in the community, Billy will stand as a reminder to everyone of the importance of giving blood. Meanwhile, the Ugandan Red Cross have a challenge to create their own "Billy" to support the campaign.
The Uganda women's international leadership programme brought together 11 international women who worked alongside 11 community leaders on 4 projects. The intensive week combined a two day field trip, leadership training, and the opportunity to work alongside Ugandan peers on a real-time project. Jackie and Beverley saw first-hand the impact of low blood supplies in the northern rural post conflict district of Gulu where blood donor mobilisation is made very difficult by the psychological instability of the potential blood donors. “There was no ‘O’ blood in the hospital blood bank; they had run out and I didn't want to imagine what was going to happen to that child that needed a transfusion; the hospital staff were trying to persuade friends, relatives and staff to donate blood.”
Beverley and Jackie both say they “benefited enormously” from their experience and Beverley is now in daily contact with the Uganda Red Cross and her “blood sisters”. I learnt to “think big” said Jackie and “I took a lot out of it personally too”. Together with Lydia and Sarah, the NHSBT team have “big dreams.” Uganda routinely runs out of blood in January; schools are closed and the majority of donors are students. Next January, the blood sisters are determined that supplies of blood in Uganda will be higher.
Other partnerships created through the Uganda Women’s International Leadership Challenge include with Grameen Foundation, Send a Cow and the Network of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, NACWOLA.
Photographs © Edwige Bernanoce.
For more information on the challenge, please see Jane Worsley's blog: www.janeworsley.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/226/
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