The children’s work in Uganda started in January 2003 with the sponsorship of thirty children in their own homes. The need for a children’s home became evident with the constant sickness amongst the children which included malaria and T.B. which was due to the difficult home conditions.
Our children’s home in Namugongo is quite a substantial building which can accomodate one hundred children and has a specialised baby and toddler unit. We have a good ratio of staff to children with some of them living in, which gives the children a sense of belonging instead of being institutionalised. The property is in a nice suburban area not far from the capital city of Kampala. Water in Uganda is always a problem and although we have a mains supply we also need to collect rainwater ourselves to provide enough water for bathing and washing clothes.
Our children attend the local schools to enable them to be part of the community and make friends outside the home.
Education is important in African life and great emphasis is put on encouraging the children by providing daily tuition which has already made a big difference to their progress. This year we have started to send our Senior Three and Senior Four children to boarding school. This was done for a number of reasons. With so many older children taking up beds in the children’s home it was not allowing us to admit younger ones. The boarding school is the same one as they were attending on a daily basis so the young people are still associating with their friends and have the same teachers. We also see boarding school as a stepping stone for the children to move out of the children’s home and become more independant.
Selecting children to come into the home is not an easy task but it is always our intention to keep children in their families and support them wherever possible. Quite often children are brought to us by the welfare department or the police, sometimes they are just dumped at our gate which gives us the added problem of locating parents and guardians. Most abandoned children have medical conditions such as T.B., polio, H.I.V., hernias and burn injuries. Children whose parents re-marry are quite often rejected by the step father or mother and can become slaves in the home. They can often also become victims of physical and sexual abuse.