Comic Relief gives £1m


The troubled country of Sudan is frequently in the news, usually with tales of conflict and violence. However, Comic Relief has given it a small ray of sunshine by awarding nearly £1 million to support Mothers’ Union’s Literacy and Financial Education Programme.
Since 2000, MU’s Literacy and Development Programme (MULDP) has given people in Burundi, Malawi and Sudan access to literacy and numeracy education. Controlled by MU’s trainers, the programme is rolled out through volunteer group facilitators, making it an extremely effective, yet cost efficient, adult literacy programme.
Over the last 10 years 73,721 people have joined a literacy circle with 53,148 going on to pass their exam to achieve a recognised literacy level. Receiving the accreditation certificate can be a momentous occasion for students as often it will be the first certificate they have ever received.
In 2009 MULDP in Burundi added a financial educational element. In Partnership with Five Talents International (a well established microfinance NGO) MU secured funds to train all the Burundian Literacy Trainers and Coordinators in ways to establish savings groups and business skills. This will enable them to set up productive businesses and to generate greater income using their combined literacy and financial skills.
In 2010 Comic Relief awarded MU the £1m grant and we now plan to extend the new combined Literacy and Financial Education Programme to Sudan. In partnership with Five Talents, MU aims to equip 20,000 accredited learners and their communities with an opportunity to expand their businesses. Over the next three years more people will receive vital literacy and financial education enabling them to generate and save income. It is the control through the development groups and the input at grassroots level which most impressed Comic Relief.
Our ongoing partnership with Five Talents provides an amazing opportunity to equip people with the crucial financial knowledge and business skills that are so desperately needed at the community level. However, the programme also provides a safe place to discuss challenges faced in community life. These challenges range from malaria, HIV/AIDS and domestic violence to unemployment, gender and family issues.
Since the economic downturn, MU’s financial support to programmes such as this has been severely curtailed, so external grants are a great boost to funding this programme which would otherwise depend entirely on financial support from the UK membership of Mothers’ Union.


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