Tag Archives: Africa

Jessica’s Story

My name is Jessica*. I live in Katanga and I am 17. I live with my elder sister because my father died 12 years back and my mother runs a small kiosk deep in the village therefore she couldn’t cater for my basic needs due to low earnings.

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I am a mother of one son in the above photograph, I became pregnant in primary 7 and before completing my primary leaving exams I had to drop out of school due to stigma from fellow classmates and school staff. The father to my son is a senior four student in a village in western Uganda and since he’s a student I do not get any help from him or his family. My sister who works as a waitress in a local bar is the only one who tries to provide some basic needs but due to her poorly paid earnings my son doesn’t eat the required diet like other children; my son eats anything available in order to survive.

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While in Katanga my neighbor, a pupil at CLC, informed me about hope for life Katanga and she took me to the hope for life office and due to my situation I was immediately recruited and I was taken to their Creative Learning Center at Kampala Baptist since I loved studying, I have got to walk approx. 2km every day to go to the CLC class, I walk there with other girls from Katanga, there are about 13 of us who walk to Kampala Baptist church.

I love this organization because it has taught us how to read and write and my teachers are so nice because they like us so much and are always ready to teach us. I am so happy because I have managed to meet fellow children with the same problem like mine they are friendly and very willing to study.

Jessica ~ “This has given me the hope of studying in order to become a nurse which is my future dream.”

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 HFL Social Worker ~ “As soon as Jessica fell pregnant, the school no longer wanted to support her in her education. She has been out of education for over a year being supported by her sister. We want to be able to provide Jessica with the necessary education, skills and training to help support her family and become the nurse she would love to be.”

Jessica and the other girls in the CLC are now looking for sponsors to take them to a school in the city, for £20/month, to further their education. If you are interested in sponsoring a child with us then send us an email at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com.

* We have changed names and edited the written story for child protection reasons, otherwise the story was either written by Jessica or transcribed by one of our social workers.

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News report on Katanga and the work we do

Check out the news report below of us on National TV in Uganda. The ‘Slum Report’ describes the poverty in Katanga and the work we are doing to help combat it.

Arua’s story

Liberty PicMy name is  Arua and I am 10 years old. I live in Katanga but before I used to live in the village. I live with my father & mother. My parents separated but my father sells second hand clothes and shoes and my mother works in a saloon as a hair dresser within Katanga. I have three siblings, two sisters and one brother who is eleven years old. My sisters are six and four years old. My mother pays for my sisters school fees as she can only afford for one child.

“…but due to lack of school fees I dropped out.”

I was in primary two at a primary school in the village but due to lack of school fees I dropped out. It was my father paying my fees, before I left and joined my mother in Katanga. I was registered with Hope for Life Katanga after my mother talking to Hope for life management. I love this organization because it supports me am now in a creative learning center and it taught us how to read and write and my teachers are a blessing because they like us so much.

“This has given me the hope of studying in order to become a pilot in future which is my dream.”

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I am so happy because I managed to meet other children with the same problems like mine; they are friendly and very willing to study. This has given me the hope of studying in order to become a pilot in future which is my dream. Yellow, pink and  red are my favorite colors and I love them so much because they looks nice, my best dish is rice and chicken, chips, irish potatoes  plus Macrons, I like playing games netball and nobbling.

HFL Social Worker: “When Arua came to the CLC class, she was interested in reading and writing and she was very fast in relating with her fellow children. She has learnt a lot during her time here at the CLC and is now ready for a sponsor to take her to formal school.”

Arua and the other girls in the CLC are now looking for sponsors to take them to a school in the city, for £20/month, to further their education. If you are interested in sponsoring a child with us then send us an email at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com.

* We have changed names and edited the written story for child protection reasons, otherwise the story was either written by Arua or transcribed by one of our social workers.

Desire’s story

My name is  Desire* and I am 7 years  old. I have lived in Katanga for 7 years to date. I live  with my father and mother, who are the sole bread earners  of my family. My father works with a bus company and my mother fries samosas. I have six siblings, five girls and one boy.

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I was a primary three pupil at a primary school in the city but due to lack of school fees I dropped out.  I am now getting formal education from CLC (Creative Learning Centre). I got this opportunity through some lady who works with Hope for Life Katanga who came and briefed my mother about Hope for life and the following day I was taken to the Hope for Life office in Katanga where I was registered.

“This has given me the hope of studying in order to get a bright future.”

I love this organization because it teaches children how to read and write. I am  so happy because I  managed to meet other children with the same problem like mine, they are friendly and very willing to study. This has given me the hope of studying in order to get a bright future. I walk 2 kilometers from Katanga every morning before nine o’clock to the CLC to study.

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Purple is my favorite color and I like it so much because it looks nice, my best dish is chips and chicken plus rice, I like playing games like running and nobbling but I love singing and therefore I would like to become a singer one day in future .

HFL Social Worker: “At first Desire was shy and could be so quiet in class but the Hope for Life staff have managed to catch her up in class and help her to relate with other pupils. Now she has settled into class we are so pleased with the progress she is making.”

Desire and the other girls in the CLC are now looking for sponsors to take them to a school in the city, for £20/month, to further their education. If you are interested in sponsoring a child with us then send us an email at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com.

* We have changed names and edited the written story for child protection reasons, otherwise the story was either written by Desire or transcribed by one of our social workers.

Livelihoods trainings

1912426_612963828799362_7887867242914372173_oOur Livelihoods team have been busy in training many classes of people in both tailoring and soap making.

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Sharon, our tailor trainer, prepares the machines we sent out last year from the UK, before one of her classes.

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Not only do we run classes specifically for those in our Livelihoods program but we also hold regular open workshops throughout the week that general Katanga residents can come to and learn from.

What’s great about this is it opens up education to Katanga residents of all ages, most of who never received a schooling education whilst growing up and on top of that, it’s free.

We at Hope for Life are so committed to resourcing the local community of Katanga, helping them become self sufficient families.

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Some men in Katanga have built a reputation for themselves of being jobless, alcoholics or just simply having a lack of motivation. Women on the other hand seem to have this resilience in life and are much more open and motivated by new opportunities of learning and progressing.

So with that understanding, we are so happy each time a new man wants to increase his prospects of earning a better living for his family, and decides to join our Livelihoods program.

10257440_612963695466042_3130321883809790481_o We will soon be introducing trainings in craft making, candle making and cookery into our Livelihoods program.

Keep posted for more pictures and stories…

 

Child Sponsorship… good or bad?

I have have just finished listening to a 30 minute radio program on child sponsorship, it looked at the positives of child sponsorship and also the negatives. It is definitely worth a listen too yourself and you can do so clicking here (this may only be available for people in the UK, so sorry if you are trying to listen from around the world).

There were a number of queries raised about how different charities ran the child sponsorship program and I though I would write a little post to explain how we run our sponsorship program at Hope for Life. You don’t have to listen to the radio show to follow the post below though.

The issues raised were:

  • Is the admin cost of running a sponsorship program really expensive?
  • Does it really help change the individuals future?
  • Surely sustainability is helping to change a community not just an individual?
  • What happens when the sponsorship comes to an end?

So here’s an insight into how we differ from other charities…

Is the admin cost of running a sponsorship program really expensive? 

This questions is definitely aimed at huge charities as opposed to localised charities like us. Big charities need to consider staffing costs to maintain the program, including the links back and forth to the western sponsor. There are also transport and other admin costs involved.

We don’t hire any additional individuals to maintain the sponsorship program (not that this is a problem, if child sponsorship is such a benefit to the individual/community then it is worth hiring more people), although it is part of our Education Officers job description to oversee that all the children’s school fees are paid each term and they are progressing well in school.

Our costs to maintaining a sponsorship program is extremely minimal.

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Does it really help to change the individuals future?

One of the co-founders of Hope for Life, grew up being sponsored by one of the charities mentioned in the radio show. He testifies to how that sponsorship program changed his and his families life, explaining how he got an education as a result and how he now has the life to be able to support him, his wife and his family back in the village.

There were things that he noticed, whilst growing up in the sponsorship program, that he would change/alter how specifics were carried out. It is invaluable to have his insight on the team and we have implemented/are implementing these thoughts into ours.

I have heard a number of testimonies from people who grew up as a sponsored child, of how their life has been transformed as a result, escaping severe poverty and now in a position to get a well paid job.

We are into the 2nd year of our sponsorship program and are already seeing the change in individuals that have been sponsored. This has of course been backed up by the few years they have been attending our catch-up program, instilling the basics of education. If you compare these children to how they were before they attended our catch-up classes, or even to other children the same age, which currently don’t go to school, it is unbelievable how much they have progressed. Throughout the year our staff send us report cards of the children sponsored into school are getting on. It is always a joy to read them, thinking back to Sept 2011 when we first started teaching them in our catch-up classes.

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Surely sustainability is helping to change a community not just an individual? 

Well yes and no.

This has been a big criticism of charities who are only focused on child sponsorship but as it was reported on the radio program, “One way of changing the community is to empower and change individuals, which then in turn changes the community” (I paraphrased slightly as I didn’t write the quote down).

We however differ in that alongside our education program we run our Livelihoods program. This link is huge, something that we focus most of our time and energy on, working with the parents of the children in our education program in helping them to earn a sustainable income for them and their families.

This means that we hope each child will be sponsored for approximately 5 years, by which time, we have given a loan, training and/or other support, to the parents to earn a sufficient income to then go on and pay for their own child’s education.

Because this is how you change a community isn’t it? By empowering families to look after themselves, free from poverty.

So if you sponsor a child with us, on year 4 of your sponsorship, we may ask you to reduce the amount you give, this is because we have hopefully empowered the parent of the child in such away that they are now in a position to be able to start paying a small amount towards the school fees. In this way the parents slowly adapt to paying for their child’s education as their income increases.

We feel this gets the best of supporting an individual as well as, supporting the family, all the while boosting the micro-economy within Katanga, helping to change the community.

Other ways we support the community is providing education, healthcare, support in their businesses and jobs, guidance and counselling. We are also continuing to look for a sustainable way to provide clean water and better sanitation.

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What happens when the sponsorship comes to an end?

There is a feeling that sponsorship creates a sort of financial dependency. As you have read a few paragraphs ago, we hope help the parents slowly adapt to paying school fees for themselves. After that the child should be in a family that is now able to support their needs sufficiently. 5 years later, both the child and the family will be in a better position to be able to maintain a lifestyle free from poverty.

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So I hope that gives you an insight into how we run our sponsorship program. It was quite a long but hopefully worth reading.

Perhaps it’s a dangerous thing for a charity to talk about the negatives of child sponsorship but I would be interested to hear your views, ideas and concerns about such a program. You can leave a comment using the comments section below this post.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child with us for £20/month then send us an email at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com.

Just to finish, I love that line from the little girl from Ghana (on the radio show), “I am surprised that someone so far away loves me so much”.

Katrina

Just to let you know this is not a ‘happy update’ but unfortunately, it is part of reality and something our team wanted to share with our supporters to give you an insight into health problems within Katanga.

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As you may well have heard, during last week, one of the students in our catch-up classes died of cerebral malaria. ‘Trina’ died after contracting the infectious disease and within 24 hours, from recognition that she was ill, she had passed away.

She joined our catch up classes when I was over in Uganda, in October 2013. Being a young 4 year old, I remember she was easily distracted, often bossing boys of her age around. Even though she had this tough side to her, she would love colouring and singing with the rest of the class, progressing well in her learning over the past 6 months.

People dying in Katanga is not uncommon but it hits further when it is a child you know and have invested your time in.

It seems every few months that Megan and I get informed of someone else we knew of in Katanga dying; the younger sister, to a boy in our classes, died of severe burns, the electrician, who did all the electrics in our school buildings, died on another job, sorting out faulty wires and a couple of months ago we were informed of the sister of a boy we work with, passing away, leaving 2 more children for the Jaja (Grandma) to look after…

…and the list goes on.

There are a number of things that we do at Hope for Life we hope will reduce unnecessary deaths; giving out mosquito nets, delivering trainings and workshops in the area of health and providing free health check-ups and advice, by a trained nurse that we employee once a week.

One of the most important parts of our job is counselling, mourning with the family, helping them when tragic events do happen. Our staff went with the family, to the burial in her families village.

Thanks for your support through the many good times and equally through the tough to comprehend.

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This New Year

Last week Hope for Life Co-Founder, Megan, said that it had felt like this new year has ‘crept’ up on us. I completely agree with that statement, for some reason 2014 seems to have come really quickly for us, after a successful and packed 2013.

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A lot has happened within this past year; from having our first child sponsored to go to school in January 2013, to having 10 children sponsored starting back at school this month.

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As we have had 10 children sponsored, we have welcomed 10 more children into our catch up classes.

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We have some new staff, who are really going to help progress the work we are doing further and have said goodbye to some of our faithful, staff and volunteers who have now moved on. We are so thankful for their early commitment to the work we do in Katanga and are sad to see them move on but we are so excited for our current team and for the work we are going to do during this next year.

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We have acquired a new building for our Livelihoods work, which is being renovated during this Christmas/New Year break. We can’t wait to give out more loans to women in Katanga to start their businesses and earn a ‘living wage’ to pay for their children’s education.

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We are looking forward to helping as many families as we can on their journey to escape poverty.

We are looking for more people to give monthly to the work we are doing in Katanga. If you feel you are able to give something monthly e.g. £5 – £20 – £100 then please let us know by emailing us at hopeforlifekatanga@gmail.com. If you are not sure but would like to give a one off donation then you can go to to our online payment website to give a donation.

Big thanks for your support throughout 2013 and we are looking forward to the year ahead.

Christmas Cards, T-shirts & Hand-made, Ugandan Craft

We have a range of products, which you can see in the pictures below, that we are selling to raise money for the charity. 100% of certain products, the craft bowls, bags and mats, go straight to the Ugandan women who made them. Check out the prices and details on how you can order some products below the pictures

T shirts (Sizes L Youth – L Adult available) – £8

Mat – £6

Bowls – £7

Bags – £8

Christmas cards – 5 for £3.50 or 10 for £5

If you would like to buy any of the products above then fill out the form below and we will get back to you to arrange payment and delivery*.

*If the item requires a Courier service then a posting cost will apply, depending on quantity of items purchased. If you live within 10-15 miles of Bristol, England then we will drop the products off for free.

We’re hiring!

We are currently looking for 2 more people to join our team in Katanga, Uganda, a teacher and a livelihoods manager. The deadline for both jobs being 1st November.

It was September 2011 when Megan and I first went to Katanga, September 2012 when we became registered as a small charity, before registering as a charity with the UK Charity Commission in September 2013.

Over this time we have been able to work with our friends in Katanga, providing education in our catch up classes, loans and training in our livelihoods program, health care and have made advances in improving the water and sanitation.

All of the work we have been doing over the past 2 years, has meant we need to employee a couple more people, to continue to support more and more families in Katanga.

We are so excited for the change these 2 people will bring to the development of Katanga.

Finally a charity

We are now a registered charity with the Charity Commission (No. 1153897).

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This is a big moment for Megan and I, for our Ugandan Co-Founders, our trustees and Hope for Life Katanga as a charity.

Candlelit meeting

I remember sitting in a room with Megan and our 3 Ugandan co-founders (Francis, Moses and Joshua), with the only light generated by a couple of candles, having a meeting, discussing what it would be like if Hope for Life Katanga got to the stage where it needed to be registered as a charity.

The moment I describe was exactly this time 2 years ago (when Megan and I went to Uganda for the first time)

Since that time the 5 of us, with some other amazing volunteers, looked to do all we can for the community of Katanga, which meant being registered.

Livelihoods

The first process was to become a registered CBO (Community Based Organisation) in Uganda. This process was relatively quick and easy.

Megan and I were still travelling at the time for another 8 months, so by the time we got back to England, we looked to get registered as a charity in England. You can only register with the Charity Commission if you have an income of over £5,000, which we didn’t, so we registered with HM Revenue and Customs as a small charity in September 2012.

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When we finally passed the £5,000 mark in 2013, we sent off our application. With a few emails back and forth, the Charity Commission were happy with our application and, on the 23rd of September 2013 (as in a few days ago), we became a ‘proper’ charity.

We are so excited about this, not because of the added paper work, but because it allows us to do more for the people in Katanga, Uganda.

We have done a lot in these past 2 years from that original candlelit meeting;

  • buying 2 buildings
  • teaching more than 25 children, whose parents couldn’t afford their education, in our catch up classes
  • we now have 7 children sponsored to go to formal school
  • given out loans to 10 women to start businesses
  • sent sewing machines out to Uganda for women to use in their businesses
  • becoming registered as a CBO, then with HMRC and finally with the Charity Commission.
  • etc. etc.

… and we thank you so much for being involved in the work that we do in Uganda, we really appreciate it.

Push-ups with chickens

Our good friend Steve is running the Robin Hood Half Marathon on the 29th of September in aid of Hope for Life.

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He has been training hard over the past few months to really push at getting a good finishing time and raise some money for the work we do in Katanga, Uganda.

As well as putting himself through this endurance test, both he and his wife have given the use of their outhouse, for Hope for Life charity use.

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(Megan and Steve painting the outhouse before we move our desks in…)

We really appreciate the support they have given to us as a charity, so it would be amazing if you would like to help us show our appreciation to Steve and his wife, by sponsoring Steve’s half marathon run, all you need to do is follow the link below and click donate.

Sponsorship however big or small would be amazing.

Steve’s Half Marathon Fundraising Page

Thanks all.

Sewing Machines Arriving in Uganda

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We are very excited to see the sewing machines have arrived in Uganda and made it safely into Hope for Life’s project centre. In March 2013 we were kindly donated some singer sewing machines by Duncan Hill, who is based up north in the UK. He contacted Hope for Life after collecting some old singer sewing machines that needed some TLC, once he had managed to get them back into working order Duncan decided he wanted to give them a new home with a charity who would be able to use them to benefit a group of people. Duncan was kind enough to bring them to Bristol and teach our team of people how to use, maintain and fix the machines, so we can pass our knowledge onto the ladies in our Livelihoods project in Katanga.

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Three of our good friends were going to go to Uganda in August 2013, to take on the roll of teaching the Ugandan ladies how to use, maintain and fix the machines. The machines went to their house for a few month so they could continue to practice their skills so they didn’t forget before getting to Uganda. We managed to book the sewing machines onto a flight to get them to Uganda. This is all Thanks to many people donating specially for this cause.

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We also collected many donations of material, pins, tailors chalk, needle threaders, tape measures, cotton thread, sewing patterns and un-pickers. We ended up sending the sewing machines out with a fantastic variety of start up equipment to get them going on their sewing adventure. A huge Thank You goes out to everyone who donated equipment and money to send the machines, without you it couldn’t have happened.

The machines arrived in Uganda safely, after hours of carefully wrapping the parts so they wouldn’t get damaged if they were thrown, dumped and squashed through their trip to Uganda.

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One of our Ugandan team, Francis, worked hard on getting the machines from the airport into the care of Hope for Life. Just as things were coming to a tight time schedule, the machines were released from the airport the day before Beth, Ellie and Laura where due to teach the ladies.

Beth, Ellie and Laura arrived meeting Francis and the machines which were still packaged. Their first job was to unpack the machines, which was harder that you would expect as we packed them so well.

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As the children were on school holidays for 2 weeks the ladies were able to use the space where the children usually have their lessons. The new building, which we bought, is not renovated yet and has no furniture in but will be used for livelihoods projects like sewing. After the girls met the mums/careers of the children in our school, they set to work teaching the ladies the basics of the machines and how to use them.

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The girls said they were surprised how quickly they picked it all up. First, sewing basic lines, then embroidering their names onto some material.

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Then, make a bag with 2 handles on, and put their embroided names onto the bags they have just made. Not bad for total beginners to complete in 2 days.

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They were measuring, chalking the outlines, pinning material together, cutting the material and sewing it together, which is all very impressive. As a few people were sharing each machine, they were all helping when someone got stuck, or both learning when Beth, Ellie or Laura came over to help.

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The Ladies concentrated hard and put a lot of effort into learning, there is still more practice needed to neaten things up but they have some skills they will be able to further and try new things. The Ladies will get the opportunity to receive a loan from Hope for Life if they wish to start sewing as a business, they may work together or individually, making and/or fixing clothes and accessories for individuals, schools or companies. We will update you on how things go and what route they decided to take but for now we can be happy that these ladies now have hope that there is something for them to focus towards and dream about for their future.

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You never know one day you could be putting a order in for an amazing top or bag they have made using these sewing machines.

Massive thanks to everyone who made this achievable and a special Thank you to Beth, Ellie and Laura for giving up their time to come to Hope for Life Katanga and for teaching these lovely Ladies.

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