Racing across India for StepUp

Race Across India (blog 1)

On the 22nd of April a group of 8 enthusiastic friends will be braving the terrain, climate and bustle of India in a 2400 km amateur rally. All in support of Our Step Up Programme! Undertaking a fundraising event like no another, they’ll be driving Morris Oxford’s from the start line: Chennai, to the finish line: Goa.

We’re absolutely thrilled they’ve chosen a project which is truly transforming the lives of hundreds of families in northern Uganda.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting the StepUp project in Uganda twice myself now. And, each visit has been a complete eye-opener where I have been left amazed at the incredible difference our supporters are bringing to vulnerable families in Uganda. But why have this group of committed fundraisers chosen to Race Across India for StepUp?

Below I’ve answered some essential questions about this unique programme!

Main image Race Across India (blog 1)

What is StepUp? 

StepUp is a programme which takes impoverished, rural farming families in northern Uganda from a situation in which they have virtually nothing, to a level where they can sustain themselves with dignity and pride. These are communities whose lives have been devastated by the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army – a terrorist group that ravaged its way across the country throughout the 1990s and early-2000s. Thousands of people sought refuge from the violence in specially constructed camps.

When the conflict ended, those displaced returned home but, for many, recovering their former lives has proved almost impossible. They struggle to survive as they face a constant shortage of food, exacerbated by the use of inefficient farming methods. Families typically eat only one meal a day. Sickness is ever present, encouraged by poor nutrition, sanitation and hygiene. Child mortality rates are high, and literacy rates are low, especially among females.

How does StepUp work? 

When StepUp is introduced into an area, it is done in conjunction with the local authorities, to identify the communities in greatest need. It addresses all critical aspects of community life: agriculture, livelihoods, income, health – including water, sanitation and hygiene – education, savings and credit. The programme focuses on hands-on training, using weekly, 2-hour sessions, which all adult members of the community attend. Communication is oral, visual and very practical. This is particularly important given the low level of literacy, and also to maintain interest and commitment.

Why support StepUp?

From personal experience, I can say that the results are astounding. One sees families growing sufficient food to eat three meals a day, being cooked on energy efficient ovens (created from natural resources). Fields full of crops being grown in neat rows, from soya beans, maize, groundnuts and bananas to cabbages, tomatoes, paw-paw and beans – so much so, that the families are able to sell off any excess at market. Suddenly, they find themselves with a consistent source of income, which not only enables them to buy the basic essentials of life, but the ability to send their children to school. StepUp training in sanitation and hygiene sees family health improves dramatically. With this, whole communities become more productive, and children suffer fewer days away from school.

Who supports StepUp? 

It is with the generous support of our dedicated donors that we’re able to work with Organisation for Community Action on the ground in Lira, northern Uganda and help transform the lives of entire families through the StepUp programme.

How is StepUp different to any other charity project? 

With time, the level of training, mentoring and support decreases, until it can be removed entirely. StepUp truly is ‘the end of charity’. It is, in every respect, a ‘step-up, not a hand-out’, and everyone involved is proud to be able to play their small part in it.

Find out more about StepUp here.