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Volunteer Action Network (VAC-NET) is a grass-roots non-profit organization situated in Gulu. It was founded in 2005 by Volunteers who realized the worsening situation of the rural poor, especially women who are adversely affected by the socio-economic imbalance and yet constitute a greater labour force for production.The organization is rural inclined and aims at building and coordinating a network of worldwide volunteers to serve the war-torn regions of Uganda.
In 2007, VAC-NET formed a strategic relationship with the U.S. based non-profit, Women's Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) and have continued to work with them since that time. VAC-NET offers a micro-finance program to women in Northern Uganda. By providing micro credit loans and educational programming, women can create economic opportunities for themselves while strengthening their families and communities. Through our collective efforts, the first borrowing group was created and since that time, over 2800+ women have received loans and training!
The mission of VAC-NET is to provide micro-financing and educational programs to the women of northern Uganda. By using the idea of group lending and community participation, VAC-NET offers access to credit, training and education promoting entrepreneurship, self-determination and dignity. Our strategy is to give women the tools necessary to alleviate poverty, facilitating sustainable development, empowerment and hope.
Our programs include:
• Credit plus Program (Micro-finance)
• Literacy Program
• Communities Advancing Prevention of HIV/AIDS Program (CAPh)
• Advocacy and Leadership Program
The Credit Plus program is unique and different from other microcredit programs as it combines micro credit services with health, nutrition, family planning, and basic business education into a single service reaching underserved women in towns, villages and rural areas. Through the Credit Plus program, participants receive a micro credit loan bundled with social and educational services, allowing them to create an opportunity for sustainability, increased food security and health and nutrition. Investing in women and families by creating a social network provides not only small business loans, but educational opportunities as well. This helps women to build livelihoods and a brighter future for the families. The program goal is poverty reduction, human security enhancement and women's empowerment. The motivation is the belief that very poor women can rise above poverty with dignity.
Our Literacy program provides underprivileged women with the opportunity to learn to read and write, providing them with essential education they are entitled to but also a means to become empowered and further begin to support themselves and families. While providing women with literacy skills they also receive business and hygiene education.
The Communities Advancing HIV/AIDS Prevention Program is part of the national Uganda strategy to reduce the HIV/AIDS rate in Gulu District by 40% by 2015. After experiencing over 20 years of insurgency war with over 80% of the population having lived in internally displaced peoples camps, Gulu District has come to suffer one of the highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Uganda at an estimated 13.1% compared to the national average of 6.5%. Although Uganda has had one of the most significant responses to HIV/AIDS prevention in the past, sadly the rate has began to take a rise again. Working with trained village health team members and peer educators the program works to increase awareness on the underlying social cultural gender based and other structural drivers of the HIV epidemic and create a sustainable environment in Gulu district by providing services and education on a variety of topics. The project has a specific focus on particularly vulnerable groups of female sex workers and their clients, uniform service personnel, pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS, out of school youth including motorcycle taxi drivers, people living with HIV/AIDS, uniformed personnel, long distance truck drivers, and those who are incarcerated.
Our Advocacy and Leadership program fosters a positive network among civil society orangizations and community based organizations within Gulu District of Northern Uganda to streghten women's rights and support. This includes providing women with essential leadership skills. Our annual Creating a Voice for Women event provides women a space to express themselves in a public format, empowering them and providing a space for them to be heard by the community. Further this provides a formal oppurtunity to inspire, motivate, and engage communites in adressing gender issues while creating a space for accountability through collaborative dialogue.
Each program utilizes beneficiary Women as peer educators into their community to further disseminate the knowledge they have gained, create support networks, and foster further change in their communities for women.
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