Ex-pats helping children in their native Uganda

| July 9, 2021 | 0 Comments
AZBGC supports orphans, vulnerable children and emerging young leaders with education, health care, skills training and sports and leisure programs in Uganda. (Photo: AZBGC)

AZBGC supports orphans, vulnerable children and emerging young leaders with education, health care, skills training and sports and leisure programs in Uganda. (Photo: AZBGC)

Located in the Ugandan village of Kamengo, The Agnes Zabali Boys and Girls Club is dedicated to helping children living in poverty remain in school and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The mission of The Agnes Zabali Boys and Girls Club (AZBGC), which partners with the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance, is to support orphans, vulnerable children and emerging young leaders with education, health care, skills training, capacity building, sports, leisure programs and projects that provide employment to members of the club.
The organization is named after founder Jimmy Sebulime’s mother, in her memory. Agnes Zabali and her three sons emigrated to Canada when Sebulime was 12. She continued to support families in her native Uganda, and she was often joined by Sebulime. In 2012, when the two were returning to their village, they were in a car accident that took her life. AZBGC carries on her mission.
One of Zabali’s proudest accomplishments was the AZBGC community centre, which was designed to provide a safe and supportive place where every child and adult is respected and valued in an environment of inclusion and acceptance. All children and youth in the project learn the value of hard work, honesty, fair play, a positive attitude, co-operation and respect for self and others. Children and youth are the centre of everything AZBGC does. By supporting education, basic health and through field trips and recreational activities, it encourages and empowers young people to develop healthy lifestyles, a lifelong passion for learning, leadership skills and a sense of social responsibility. This support also reduces poverty and inequalities. It is an organization with no political or religious affiliations that serves children of Kamengo regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion.
COVID-19 has challenged AZBGC. Young people in the project remain at home without the ability to go to school and are fearful, hungry and confused due to the strict measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, AZBGC has been able to keep its various facilities, such as the community centre, library, women’s resource centre and outdoor sports courts open. When these facilities are open, youth have access to resources and a few young graduates are able to work.
There are several exciting recent developments, including the installation of a privacy fence at the Women’s Resource Centre. The fence has enhanced safety and security for the young women and girls, and increased unity amongst them. This newfound sense of unity has empowered the young women to start their own basket-making business, catering-supply rental and cake-baking business. They will soon have a small non-electrical portable washing machine inside the women’s resource centre — the first washer in the entire village, and it will generate employment for a number of youths.
Another initiative, in light of the pandemic, involved distributing food and hygiene products to members of the club and 86 households in the community. The need for basic hygiene supplies such as soap is great in the community due to unemployment.
AZBGC also purchased new cultural dance costumes in the hopes members of the club will be hired to perform at various local functions. It has also stocked up the community centre library, since most children remain out of school due to COVID.
The club also has a farm where it has planted beans, corn, green bananas and sweet potatoes as well as 300 trees to contribute to the fight against climate change.
Finally, to encourage good health, the club provides individual sports training at its outdoor sports courts. The recent training resulted in an invitation for eight girls to try out for the Ugandan National Basketball Team. In addition, there were scouts from various local schools at the tryout and it is AZBGC’s hope that a number of girls will make the team, and some will earn sports and academic scholarships to schools that are outside their community. Sports have improved teamwork, empowered girls and created remarkable opportunities for many members of the club.
Education remains expensive for all members of the club and the organization hopes to continue assisting students with school fees, school supplies and accommodation for senior students so they can complete their studies. To support AZBGC’s education and sports programs, contributions of any amount are welcome. Donations can be made through azbgc.ca.

Jimmy Sebulime can be reached at azboysandgirlsclub@gmail.com or call (613) 290-6118.

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Jimmy Sebulime can be reached at azboysandgirlsclub@gmail.com or call (613) 290-6118. 

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