Text by Ibrahim Batambuze, Reach A Hand, One World Partner
In the depths of the Western Uganda district of Mbarara lies a small happy village called Katereza. It is gifted by nature away from the pollution of the bustles and hustles of the town, presenting an apt countryside environment. All this could have been worth the savour, but this settlement is marred by the appalling state of schools, no access to healthcare, limited access to electricity and nail biting poverty.
Katereza’s population is 60% of school going age. The answer to this call is that there is only one school - Katereza primary school - whose numbers drop per year that passes. According to a baseline study done by RAHU and the Global Livingston Institute, 60% of the mothers have given birth without the guidance of or care from a trained medical personnel. Most of the 1500 households in the village use kerosene lanterns as a power source by night fall, and these have been known to cause arson-related hazards in places with similar characteristics.
In the wake of these challenges, Katereza Community Alliance (KCA), an initiative by Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU)’s adopt a village program with the interests of Katereza at heart, steps in. Being a youth-led non-profit initiative, KCA aims at empowering the village by placing emphasis on the spheres of education through early childhood literacy, renovating the only school, improving healthcare by providing a health centre, poverty alleviation and providing renewable and alternative energy sources (electricity) like solar.
The Katereza Marathon came in as a first of its kind event. It was a charity based run, aimed at bringing to reality one of the ambitions of KCA - improved health service delivery. To zero it down more, every single penny raised was to be allocated to the construction of Katereza Community Health Centre, which too would be the first of its kind in the remote village.
The event was slated for and executed on December 27th 2016, also coming in as a late Christmas gift for the ‘Katerezans’ who contributed to the marathon through participating after paying a modest fee. It also attracted sponsors and well-wishers, especially Unilever Uganda who provided gift hampers and prizes as well as and One World Children’s Fund who blessed KCA with its first grant.
It was a 10km long race, and the participants felt every impact there is about a marathon. The sweat, fatigue and exhaustion crept up, and some runners yielded and fell off the course. However, a good number persevered and managed to reach the finish line, with Gift Bagembe finishing ahead of all and taking the cash prize of 500,000 UGX home.
Athan Ananukire, one of the participants in the run referred to the marathon as a mind blowing experience.
“It was great seeing different people of different age and wealth levels coming together to run for a common challenge. It certainly gave us, Katereza residents the feel of Christmas joy” mentioned.
Reach A Hand Team Leader Humphrey Nabimanya heralded the marathon as a key uniting factor among Katerezans and the outer community, using the success to foresee a brighter future for the community.
“This year’s run brought together so many people who appreciated the cause. I can see Katereza with improved structures and systems in health, education and economical empowerment of young women and girls” Humphrey said.
The run will be an annual event, serving as a uniting factor for the residents and well wishers, and also as an income generator for the activities. As Humphrey said, there is no better way to help people than to have them involved.
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