JANUARY NEWSLETTER: BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES IN 2018

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Over the past five years, thanks to your support, Brick by Brick has experienced tremendous growth. In 2012, we had just one full time employee working on our School Program. We begin 2018 with a skilled and dedicated staff of seventeen, working on our three innovative programs. All of our staff share a passion for service and a commitment to building healthy communities in the Rakai and Kyotera Districts of Uganda. Since 2003, we have worked with rural communities to rebuild nine primary schools serving four thousand children per year. Over 3000 adolescent girls and young women have benefited from our My Pads Program. The Babies and Mothers Alive Program is working in 25 health centers and hospitals serving a half a million people, dramatically improving the quality of maternal and newborn health care. How have we done so much, with so little? It begins with trusted relationships with local government and ordinary people in the communities we serve, the kind of trust that develops over many years of hard work.

What’s Coming in 2018?

2018 will be a year of expanded impact for our all of our programs. 

My Pads/DREAMS Innovation Challenge

With the support of the U.S. Government-funded DREAMS Innovation Challenge, we will continue to partner with local secondary schools to deliver our My Pads Program, an innovative 9-session sexual and reproductive health program aimed at empowering adolescent girls and young women, encouraging them to stay in school. By the end of February, we will have completed major renovations in ten schools on rain water harvesting systems and gender-sensitive changing rooms that will support improvements in menstrual health and hygiene. We will continue to establish and strength student-led health clubs. All of our interventions are aligned with the overall goals of the DREAMS Program, which is working in ten sub-Saharan African countries to dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women. 

Babies and Mothers Alive (BAMA) Program

Over the past two and a half years, we have built a vibrant partnership with the Rakai and Kyotera District health systems. As the only implementing partner in maternal and newborn health in our districts, we have a vital role to play in improving the quality of health care in the 25 health facilities with whom we partner. In the coming year, we will continue to train and mentor the midwives and physicians who provide care to the thousands of mothers we serve. If we are to reduce the number of mothers and babies who die needlessly every year, we will need to do more than improve the quality of care at health centers and hospitals. With more than half of the deliveries in our districts occurring at home, without a skilled attendant, it is essential that we work to increase the number of women who deliver in health facilities; this requires a broad community-based approach. This year we will continue outreach to our local communities. We have already trained over 100 Mama Ambassadors who work at the village level to educate women and their families and encourage them to seek care where our skilled attendants can provide quality maternal and newborn care. We will continue our health education programming on local radio, as well as our community health outreaches. Over the past year, these outreaches served over 5000 women and children, providing lifesaving care, while supporting local drama groups that promote health.

 In 2018, with We Care Solar, we will 'Light Every Birth' at 15 Health Centers.

In 2018, with We Care Solar, we will 'Light Every Birth' at 15 Health Centers.

This year our work will be strengthened by two powerful partners. With We Care Solar, a California-based organization, we will install solar systems that will provide light to fifteen health centers where until now mothers have been delivering in the dark. Vital Health Africa, works to improve newborn health with a special focus on the care of sick babies. In July of this year, we will work together to train our providers in newborn intensive care. We will also collaborate to seek funding, which we hope will lead to the creation of newborn intensive care units at our three district hospitals. 

School Program

Our School Program will also benefit from a renewed relationship with an old partner, the Peace Corps. This week, Katie Stasa, one of America’s best and brightest, will join Brick by Brick, working alongside School Program Coordinator, Max Ssenyonga. They will be very busy right from the start, with an ambitious work plan for the year. In February, with support from Music for Relief, a charity funded by the band Linkin Park, we will install solar power systems to twenty schools in our districts. We Share Solar will take the lead in conducting a STEM training for twenty teachers, using solar energy as way to introduce applied science to our students.

We will also continue our partnerships with three rural communities to rebuild primary schools serving over 1000 students, as well as our work to improve the quality of school libraries in our partnering schools.

Each month, our newsletter will feature news from the field, program updates and compelling stories from our community partners, as well as our amazing staff. With your support, we expect great progress in the year ahead; thank you.