Building Bridges, Changing Lives: Inside Madaraja Foundation’s Impactful Initiatives for Women

In Uganda, young women and girls face significant challenges in accessing reproductive health resources. The National Institute of Health reports a 25% teen pregnancy rate, with one in four teenage girls giving birth before age 20. Teen mothers face greater risks of pregnancy-related complications and are often forced to forego their aspirations for higher education. Madaraja Foundation seeks to address these disparities by improving Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) for vulnerable women and girls, enhancing their well-being, and promoting participation in education and income-generating activities.

Founded and led by two young and dedicated Ugandan’s, Jacquellyn Ssanyu and Andrew Basenero, Madaraja Foundation leveraged their combined expertise in public health, pharmacy, and programming. Jacquellyn, currently pursuing her PhD with a background in pharmacy, is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in Uganda, while Andrew, a pharmacist with over five years of experience in project development, brings health expertise to address public health issues in underserved communities.

Links for Her Project: Bridging Gaps in Access to Contraceptives

Earlier this year, Madaraja Foundation was the recipient of a grant co-funded by Global Partners for Development and D-Prize to support their Links for Her Project. This initiative responds to the pressing need for improved access to self-injectable contraceptives in peri-urban areas of Uganda. With 40% of pregnancies mistimed or unwanted and a 25% of teenagers becoming pregnant by age 19, Links for Her offered a scalable solution to minimize the statistics at hand.Recognizing the limitations in public health facilities, where stock-outs and long waiting times are common, Madaraja Foundation turned its focus to the private sector. 

Private health facilities, often overlooked in government capacity-building efforts, became the key players in addressing access challenges. Links for Her aimed to establish a franchise of trained private providers who not only educate women about family planning but also train those opting for self-injection. The goal is to serve over 110,000 women in the next five years. The project has made significant strides with 20 private outlets engaged, 40 staff trained, 283 doses of DMPA-SC distributed, and 278 women served. 

Empowering Young Mothers: The CARE Group Project

As Madaraja Foundation celebrates the success of Links for Her, they’re moving forth with a new initiative. Their upcoming CARE Group Project aims to help adolescent and young mothers in Uganda by creating easily accessible support groups. The CARE groups, consisting of 10-30 pregnant teenagers and young mothers aged 13 to 24, will be led by trained facilitators, including young mothers themselves. These groups will not only provide essential information on SRH, including family planning, Antenatal Care (ANC), Postnatal Care (PNC), and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) prevention but also foster peer-to-peer psychosocial support.

The project adopts a holistic approach, addressing gaps in knowledge, societal norms hindering service utilization, and financial constraints. Through a participatory learning and action cycle, the CARE groups will undergo problem identification, strategy development, implementation, and evaluation. Monthly meetings will include content experts addressing topics like mental health and family planning, while financial literacy training aims to improve the financial well-being of participants.

The CARE Group Project, though yet to be launched, envisions piloting 20 groups in the Mukono district, targeting young mothers in rural and slum communities. To bring this vision to life, Madaraja Foundation is actively seeking initial funding of $75,000.

A Vision for Tomorrow

Madaraja Foundation stands as a shining example of how locally-led grassroots organizations are driving positive change in their own communities. The bridges they build go beyond physical structures; they bridge gaps in knowledge, access, and support, empowering women and girls to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.  

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