To inform, involve, and inspire people living with disabilities in Uganda, and those who care about them.
Pearls of Africa, Inc. gained its nonprofit status in 2001, but its work stretches back to 1989, when the group People With Disabilities Uganda began providing services and support for disabled people living in the country. The organization expanded its geographic scope in early 2000, when the group's director, Richard Mugisha, began recruiting online volunteers through NetAid, a site that promotes online voluntarism. POA was created the next year to support the work of People With Disabilities Uganda and manage online volunteers.
POA believes that people living with disabilities need three main forms of support — information, inclusion, and inspiration. To that end, the group provides resources, support services, workshops, and various other programs to help people with disabilities and their families live happy, healthy lives. The organization also informs and educates the American public about the needs of people living with disabilities in developing countries, particularly Uganda.
Disabled children in Uganda often do not receive any education, and as a result, many never develop social skills or independence. POA's Action for Positive Change program addresses this problem by teaching preschool and school-age children daily living skills such as grooming, feeding oneself, interacting socially, and building character. The project aims to help the children gain independence, assimilate into society, and ultimately attend school. The group also operates the Children's Resource Library in Kampala, Uganda, which offers children's books, audiotapes, and videos, as well as resources for parents and caretakers. In addition, POA offers the Parent Workshop Series to help parents of children with disabilities. The series includes lectures, demonstrations, and workshops on topics such as nutrition, maternal health, childhood development, and parenting issues for special-needs children.
Throughout 2002, POA's online volunteers contacted organizations, authors, and publishers to solicit book donations for its Children's Resource Library project. The group collected 171 new books, twelve read-along books and cassettes, two videos, and thirteen gently-used books as a result of those efforts. POA is still seeking book donations, which can be made through its Web site.
Launched in November, the POA Web site was designed and created entirely by online volunteers. The site provides information about the organization, Uganda, and disabilities. Web users can also visit the site to donate to POA and find out about its online volunteer opportunities.
POA seeks funds from foundations, corporations, and individuals for unrestricted operating expenses and special projects.