Onduparaka lineup against SC Villa at Green Light Stadium Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

The magnetic appeal of West Nile community based club, Onduparaka F.C has attracted thousands of supporters across the divide in Uganda and its peripheries in just seven years since the club’s inception in 2011.

[/media-credit] Onduparaka Football Club has passionate fans Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

After conquering the country and the region, English Premier League outfit, Everton Football club is the latest partner to join the bandwagon.

Everton, through their charity arm, Everton  in the Community has entered into a cordial relationship with The West Nile – UK Health Partnership Consortium in Uganda as part of supporting the West Nile refugee operations in Uganda through the region’s darling club, Onduparaka F.C.

This is under the West Nile – UK Health Partnership Consortium that comprises of Onduparaka football Club, among others

The consortium therefore signs a memorandum of Understanding with Everton FC (Everton in the Community), a charity which will use sport to address the holistic psycho-social needs of both refugee children and the humanitarian workers who care for them.

The purpose of the partnership is to make a contribution towards the well-being of refugees and hosting communities in West Nile region.

An additional issue that emerged was the need to address the well-being of the staff and volunteers who support this category of people living within and around the refugee settlement.

The host communities must be included in any intervention as the influx of refugees has put pressure on already existing yet under resourced healthcare services.

Through engaging with the local communities and existing systems, it is possible to contribute to the care of vulnerable communities.

[/media-credit] Onduparaka players celebrate one of their goals against Police at Lugogo Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Uganda today is home to over 1.4m refugees. About 1,053,598 are from South Sudan contributing to the biggest percentage and living in West Nile region, in Northern Uganda.

Since the influx started in July 2016, humanitarian efforts have been directed towards this emergency response to ensure people have access to basic needs like water, shelter and food as well as urgent medical care. Other attempts are to unite families separated because of war.

The humanitarian response  is now moving to a phase of long term sustainable health care and livelihood support.

The focus is to support families to rebuild their lives, and it is now that the psycho-social aspects of health and wellbeing become apparent.

In  2017, a  scoping, assessment made demonstrated that mental health issues are the main challenge communities are now facing: depression, anxiety and trauma, all stemming from the upheaval in South Sudan.

The study further indicated a  lack of livelihood and meaningful activities, leading to idleness and substance abuse of drugs hence exposing some refugees to conditions that lure them into mental and other physical health disorders.

The other partners in the consortium includes; Arian Teleheal International Telemedicine Charitable Trust, Arua Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda Red Cross Society, East London NHS Trust – Butabika Link, Everton in the Community (EitC), Health Education England (HEE), Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), Uganda UK Health Alliance (UUKHA) and the University of Northampton.

About the Memorandum of Understanding:

The memorandum of understanding will be signed on 23rd March 2018.

The event will take place from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.

The agreement will cover a period of five years from the date of signing.

About Everton in the community:

Everton FC is an English premiership team and it hosts Everton in the Community which uses sport to enhance the wellbeing of local and the vulnerable global community.

Through the use of a comprehensive variety of sporting and social opportunities provided on a local, national and international scale, Everton in the Community’s mission is:

Through the positive promotion of sport, physical activity and the brand of Everton Football Club, we are committed to provide high quality, accessible participation and development opportunities that positively change lives and bring enjoyment to our communities.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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