Ever since Uganda was struck with the deadly covid-19,it has left many traumatized and scared thus having their mental health detoriate day by day. This has since justified the need of having mental health lessons and awareness lessons priotised.
It’s upon this basis that The Action for Community Treatment Services Foundation (ACTS FUND) came up with the Vine Tool Box; a three books provision for Mental health to Children, Parents and teachers ahead of full re-opening of schools in January 2022.
Diana Kibuuka Nakirya, a Ugandan US based Nurse who is also the Executive Director of the ACTS FUND, an NGO initiated as a rehabilitation center in 2014 says, given the mandate to provide therapy to people who have suffered from physical disabilities, mental illness, depression or stress, they (ACTS FUND) saw a need to have children, parents and teachers’ hope and mental health restored by offering skills on how they can go through the trauma they faced during school closure and have them reconnect with themselves, nature, families and the communities in which they live.
Nakiriya, via zoom justified that promoting mental health and preventing mental illnesses is key in increasing productivity as well as lifting communities out of poverty.
“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if the fought out into the open?” she said.
The organization, she said was also designed to assist orphans, vulnerable children and women in Uganda in order to improve their living conditions.
Enoch Kabuye, one of the Directors said, In further priotisation of mental health as the turning point of any kind of positive growth, they aim at reaching over 200 schools, offering them with different services.
“We realised the pandemic has left many of us in a very sorry state in form of mental illness and this is where we swing into action to support vulnerable youth both boy and girls, the teachers as well as parents,” he said.
“Most of these youths have been out of school for the past two years and need a lot of counseling so that by the time they resume studies, they are onset to strive for better achievements,” he added.
Speaking at the launch, Juliet Namudu, the Director Education and Schools at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) credited the ACTS FUND who she said swung into action at a right time noting that Children who are at home need support mentally because they missed crucial rights such as engagement with colleagues, playing as well as right to education.
“These children need support mentally to help them forego what they have gone through, think of the way forward and how best, by this ACTS FUND has truly done us good,” she said.
She further justified the need for mental health to parents saying that many have lost their businesses, yet family needs and provisions exist noting that it’s only mental health priotisation that can enable communities move forward together.
Also speaking at the launch, George Meteekange, the Assistant Commissioner of Private Schools and Higher Learning at the Ministry of Education and Sports credited the leadership of the ACTS FUND for prioritizing provision of mental health to children, parents and teachers ahead of full reopening of the education sector citing that it’s key to better grades and effective support of learners.
“We have seen children suffering for example here only we have a mother at 16, another mother to be at 15, and these are examples of the majority outside there, all these children need physical-social support,” he said.
He revealed that government is also coming to full support as they intend to come up with strategies of counselling especially teachers who have stayed home for two years with majority not earning a penny.
“We first of all want to support this initiative and spread it countrywide. However, under our capacity as the ministry, we are also organizing programs in which we intend going to provide counselling sessions for teachers, and KCCA is also going to plan for the same,” said Mutekanga.
To date ACTS FUND has implemented over four projects with special focus on Kalangala and Wakiso districts where it has closely responded to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic by; Increasing advocacy campaign to end teenage pregnancy and support the victims through crisis counseling and providing emergency relief items.