To those that read the Bible, in the Gospel of John:9 says… as Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. Let’s apply this to a child that grows up in a ‘ghetto’ or a slum somewhere and say that the glory of God shall ultimately shine into their lives.
About 9,000 children are growing up in the slums of Namuwongo where families live in temporary one-roomed shelter built out of wood, mud and corrugated iron sheets with no electricity and running water. Many children cannot afford to go to school and must work in order to feed themselves and their families thus leaving them uneducated and working in high risk jobs on the streets. Worse still, girls in these slums are particularly disadvantaged because they are exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse, gender based violence, teenage pregnancy, forced marriage and HIV infections.
As a strategy to help children and their parents lead a happier and more fulfilling life, Hope for Children International (H4C) is making a contribution through a couple of interventions in slums aimed at providing an opportunity for these children to realize their full potential, including;
- Girls United – This uses football as a tool to create change as it aims at reducing teenage pregnancy and HIV infection amongst girls in slums, enable them to access help and services that protect them from abuse and enable them to successfully complete quality education. The project delivers weekly enjoyable training to girls aged between 9 and 17 preparing them for competitive matches that foster team spirit. They receive a nutritious meal during the training and access social workers and counsellors. These girls are brought together on a monthly basis for a program on life-skills and counselling on sexual and menstrual health.
- Walk 2 school (W2S) – This intervention started with adults walking children to school to make sure they stayed safe and now it 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 thus providing an opportunity for them to learn how to play musical instruments.
- Livelihoods – Many of the women in the slums have been widowed or abandoned and are struggling to provide for their children as single parents. This intervention focuses on supporting women to become entrepreneurs, to build up their confidence and skillsets as well as their incomes. The organization provides some minimal financing in form of micro-loans and business grants as well as mentorship in business.
On 20th April 2021, we welcomed and oriented Hope for Children International –Uganda (H4C) into the membership of Uganda National NGO Forum. H4C is an International Organization established in 1994 and works in 11 countries across the world. This organization started its operations in Uganda in 2007 and apparently works in Namuwongo, Kisugu and Bukasa slums in Kampala in partnership with other local organizations working with children and their families.
Speaking to Ms. Immaculate Kiiza the Country Director says, her organization envisions that every child has the right to a happy, healthy and positive childhood deep-rooted in the mission to enable vulnerable children to experience a positive childhood by improving their access to education and healthcare while empowering their families to support themselves. She added that in addition to the above 3 direct interventions, H4C works in partnership with other like-minded organizations to extend its vision to other regions of Uganda, they have collaborated with other organizations around HIV/AIDS interventions, early pregnancy and pregnancy crisis management, street children, WASH and advocacy.