Tag Archives: Children

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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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.

Day 10 – Wonderworld

So, last time we came to Uganda we took the families we worked with on a fun day to the local zoo. We now have more and new families that we work with, including lots of children, so we decided to take them on another trip but somewhere different.

After a little discussion our Ugandan teachers suggested Wonderworld; I hadn’t heard of the place but it’s apparently the Ugandan theme park that all children want to go to. We agreed, and at 75p per ticket we couldn’t really say no. It was such a fun day, taking the children out of Katanga, some for the first time, and some only their second time, as we took them to the zoo last year.

As with the trip to the Zoo, the children put on their smartest clothes for this special occasion.

The Swimming pool looked so inviting, with lots of water slides but none of the children could swim, so instead we just dangled out legs in the water. Perhaps we will go swimming next year…

The best way to tell you the rest of the story is for me to stop talking and to show you some pictures…

Day 4 – Dr Katanga (Part 1)

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Some of you may know that Megan and I went to Uganda, originally for 3 months, in September 2011 and it was from those few months that Hope for Life Katanga was birthed.

However, we didn’t go to Uganda to start a charity, we went to help a team of doctors & nurses we knew in running a couple of medical camps, one in Kampala and another down near Kisoro, Uganda. This is not to say Megan and I are medically trained, not in the slightest, but we came to assist where needed in the work these medical professionals were doing.

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We were so pleased to hear that the couple that led the group of Dr’s and Nurses, Trevor and Carol, were coming back to Uganda; we definitely saw this as an opportunity to get them to help us in the charity that we had set up in Katanga.

There is huge amount of illness within Katanga, with our children often getting Malaria. So we thought it would be a good idea to use the skills of Trevor and Carol to do a ‘check-up’ of the children and families that we work with.

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Despite the local hospitals being ‘free’ for appointments, the families often tell us that they don’t go because they get charged for seeing a doctor. They were appreciative of the time that both Trevor and Carol spent with the families to help, where possible, in the area of Health.

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While the children took it in turn to see the doctor, the others were drawing pictures and writing notes of thanks. We talked about drawing something related to doctors and hospitals and it was quite disconcerting, but not surprising, to see many drawing huge syringe and needles.

The children breathed a huge sigh of relief when they found out that syringes and needles were not going to be used.

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The above picture is one of our students Christine, showing her picture to the doctor.

Read about our previous day in Katanga from our previous blog… Day 3 – Painting

Day 3 – Painting

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Before we came back to Uganda we thought that the classroom may need a fresh lick of paint and something done to help brighten the room up further. We want our catch-up classes to be a place where the children can come and feel inspired and motivated to work.

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One of our co-founders, Megan getting involved in brightening up the room.

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Chris putting his creative, decorative talents to good use!

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Painting on rough plastered, wavy walls with objects in the way is not easy but we appreciate the work all the guys put in.

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Today was also Megan’s birthday so one of our teachers, Afisha, surprised Megan with a cake that we shared amongst the painting team and our neighbours in Katanga too.

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The children in our classes certainly appreciated the colour, numbers and letters on the wall and the teachers appreciated a darker blue on the wall to shield shoe, scuff marks a little bit more.

To read about writing & swapping letters with a school in Bristol, England read our previous blog Day 2 – Letters

New children and families joining us in Katanga

Recently we have had a few more children sponsored, from our catch-up classes, to go to school in Kampala. Children sponsored to go to school leaves spaces in our classroom in Katanga for new children and families to join our program.

Below are 3 children who have just recently joined our catch-up classes. It’s is not only the children who join our program but the family as a whole, so we will now be working alongside the families to help support them in a better future.

These children and families have joined our program here at Hope for Life Katanga because of a number of reasons for example, some come from extremely low income families, some from homes where there is drug and alcohol abuse and even some families which have parents missing due to death or neglect.

In each individual circumstance we work with the family to help in various aspects of their lives e.g. income, health and to help combat drug and child abuse.

Below our our the latest children to be sponsored, leave our catch-up classes and go to a formal school.

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If you want to know more about sponsoring a child to go to school for just £20/month then follow the link to go to our Sponsor a Child page.

A Fresh way of giving…

Perhaps you can relate: When I was younger I felt quite hesitant to give to charity because I was never really sure where my donation would go, whether it would get lost in increasing admin or wages in the 1st world, or simply to a project, the charity ran, that I didn’t feel passionate about.

So, assuming there are more people like me, we have created 4 individual ‘giving pages’, one for each of the projects that we run; Education, Livelihoods, Health & Water, so that you can choose which area of cause you feel most passionate about and would like to donate to. 

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We also want to tell you that 100%* of your donation will go straight to the project you donate to and will not be used for… paying for my new Mac computer, Air travel or even something as little as printing costs. This is the same if you want to simply donate to the charity as a whole too.

Oh, and when we say 100% we mean 100%; for example, if you donate £10 to the Health project then that full £10 could be used on buying 2 mosquito nets for 2 families in Katanga Slum.

Simple really. Giving that changes lives.

So you can click on one of our projects below, where you will be able to securely, donate to the project you wish to donate to.

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* Yes 100% and we are able to do this by partnering with a charity called Golden Giving who do not take a percentage of money from each donation and do not charge the charity, unlike other giving websites e.g. Justgiving or Virgin money giving, Instead they, like us, find other ways to pay for admin, marketing and wages.

Staying with Shafik and Akram

Katanga Family

Megan and I really wanted to get a taste of what it is like to live in Katanga Slum, by staying the night with a family that attend our school. We would not only stay a night but also join the family in what they do throughout the day; eating, playing, drinking, bathing and washing clothes. Before we stayed the night we didn’t tell the family we would stay with them, we didn’t want them to prepare for us e.g. tidy-up, buy nicer foods.

Below is a list of what we did in order of time:

8:30am – We finished school by walking the children back to their homes. This was a chance for Megan and I to see our new children’s families and homes. We had chosen the family we would stay with, but they didn’t know until we turned up at their house.

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1pm – We got invited in to a house full of people with porridge cooking in the background. They, and we, each had a mug full of white slodge. I personally don’t like porridge anyway so I found it hard to drink/eat but Megan liked the lunch we got given. Porridge is quite filling, good choice.

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2pm – Now we had a couple of hours to enjoy playing whilst the children took it in turns to bathe in a small orange bowl. There was 7 children needing to get washed in the end; 2 brothers, 4 sisters and a friend of the brothers. The mum would fill up her bucket with cold water, strip the children down and get them to sit in the bucket; she would grab her blue soap bar out and start scrubbing the kids.

Some of the children don’t mind being washed but there is one particularly who ‘crossed himself’, like Catholics or footballers would, as he walked towards the bowl… he hated it, screamed and cried all the way through. They ended up clean through.

They would put on a different set of clothes, than they had on previous to the wash, and would end up sleeping in these clothes, wearing them until 2pm the next day when they would repeat the cycle.

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4pm – Only 2 1/2 hrs since we finished our ‘lunch’ we started our tea (the last thing we would eat for the day). We got given a decent amount of beans, potato and motoke  (steamed bananas). The children all ate in the bedroom whilst the ‘adults’ ate in the living area; Megan and I were adults apparently.

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5pm – Play until bedtime. They used to play until 8 and then watch TV until 10 (limiting them to 2 hours of TV a day) but their TV broke. Instead they play until 8 and slowly get ready for bed at 9.

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9pm – We were staying with a Muslim family so one of the children prayed, being thankful for the day; then, bedtime.

Megan and I felt so embarrassed as we were given the only bed they had to sleep on. The mum and older children (16, 20 years old) normally slept in the bed but tonight the mum and the 20 year old slept on the sofas next door. The other 8 children slept on a mattress that they pulled down from leaning on the side of the wall. Imagine 8 children sharing a standard sized, double mattress; a 16 year old girl, 3 boys age 9 & 10 and 4 girls aged between 4-7.

The family had mosquito nets set up already but they did need a bit of attention, before we slept, tying knots in to get rid of the holes.

The light was left on, not sure why, but we think it was so the could get up in the night and go to the toilet if they needed to (even though the ‘proper toilets’ are locked at night).

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4am – Music from around the slum finally stops booming, the bass is turned off and we finally get some sleep.

6am – The Muslim call the prayer starts over a tannoy system, which alerts the mum to get up and do her prayers… End of sleep.

6:30am – The mum wakes all the kids up to do their prayers before ‘breakfast’.

7am – Breakfast is black tea with sugar. The boys attend our school so get some food at break time but otherwise I’m not sure how the family copes on just tea until porridge at 1pm.                                                                                                                                         The kids stay in the clothes they slept in and go to school.

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Whilst the boys go to our school in the morning the mum washes clothes and buys food for the evening. The other children who don’t go to school spend the morning playing.

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We both loved our time with the family, being exhausted after all that playing. I can imagine how boring just playing is all day every day, and how easy it is for children to grow up into crime not having an education, no money and plenty of spare time. This is why kids in slums look forward to going to school, it gives them something to do and they get food too.

Apuli…

Apuli is one of those cute kids that lives just opposite our school and because he lives so close he always just wonders into the office.

He’s got such an infectious smile.

When we first saw him he was wearing a dress (we later found out it was because he only has sisters and so any clothes that were passed down to him were most probably dresses), so we made sure we got him some nice red shorts…

 

Recently Apuli’s mother died, which meant Apuli had to go back to the village he came from.

We will miss that cute kid who used to interrupt our meetings, wondering in as though he had the right to go anywhere, and used to sit on the step opposite our school and run up and say hello when we arrived in the morning.