Led by our Country Manager Immy, the Hope for Children team in Uganda makes a vital difference to the lives of children living in the slum community of Namuwongo, Kampala.
Up to 9,000 children are growing up in Namuwongo, one of Uganda’s toughest and poorest places. Here, whole families live in temporary one room shelters built of wood, mud and corrugated iron with no electricity or running water. Many children cannot afford go to school and must work to help feed themselves and their families, leaving them without an education and working in high-risk 'jobs' on the streets. Girls in Namuwongo are particularly disadvantaged: vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse, gender based violence, teenage pregnancy, forced marriage and HIV infection.
We run the following projects to help children and their parents lead happier, more fulfilling lives:
Using football as a tool to create change, with Girls United we aim to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy and HIV infection amongst girls in Namuwongo, enable them to access help and services that protect them from abuse, and enable them to successfully complete a quality education. The project delivers weekly training to girls aged between 9 and 17, preparing them for competitive matches that foster team spirit and are hugely enjoyable. As well as training they receive a nutritious meal (for some it will be the only meal of the day) and access to social workers and counsellors. Once a month the girls come together for a programme of lifeskills sessions and counselling on sexual and menstrual health, and other key issues affecting the girls' lives. We plan to increase the number of girls we work with as the project develops.
We are grateful to the Tom Maccabee Memorial Fund for all their financial and kit support of Girls United.
Walk 2 School
It's incredibly difficult for children in Namuwongo to get an education: school requires funds most families don't have, and children must work to contribute to the meagre household income. Children with long-term health conditions and those who care for sick parents have the extra burden of trying to access healthcare: medicine is expensive, and getting to a doctor means a long walk. Walk 2 School (W2S) began with adults literally walking children to school to make sure they stayed safe, and the project now includes payment of school fees, buying school uniforms, and ensuring families get the healthcare they need. A group of W2S children are now university graduates.
W2S children also take part in Music & Hope, a project that gives children the opportunity to play instruments - something they could never afford to do before, which gives them new skills and some rare fun leisure time.
Many of the mums we see in Namuwongo have been widowed or abandoned, and are struggling to provide for their children as single parents. Our livelihoods work focuses on supporting women to become entrepreneurs, to build up their confidence and skillsets as well as their incomes. We provide financing in the form of micro-loans and business grants, mentoring, and bespoke training to give new businesses the absolute best chance of success.
We are expanding the project to include young people who don't yet have children; it's important for us to support teenagers to become self-sufficient in preparation for having families of their own. We also know that, much as people in Uganda value formal education, some children thrive better in more vocational settings - we want less academic young people to have the same opportunities of success and fulfilment as their more educated peers.
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