A short report from Napak, located in the North of Uganda.
These girls were found back after a long search by the local Koinonia team, so happy! They are motivated by Sr Jovia and the local person in charge to return home and wait patiently for the schools to open again.
That is good news and very nice to hear, but before the arrival of that good news, there was a difficult situation which is still going on. As most of you know, Napak is one of the poorest areas in Uganda where the largest number of street children come from. It can get verry hot there and there is a lot of drought. There is a great scarcity of water, which makes farming difficult while it is their basic source of food and income. The people from Napak are somehow the outcast of Ugandan society. Aid and investments for development in this area are very minor, like a drop in a deep ocean of need!
The general Covid situation pushes Napak even deeper into the pit of misery, causing the local population to sigh more than ever. For many families, Koinonia’s help has been the only hope of survival during the lock downs. It was obvious during our last visit to this community. In a previous post, you could read how our local coördinator said that the ongoing food aid that we offer them through this difficult period of time was their only form of survival. Their gratitude is great, as our chairlady noticed during her first visit after the Lockdown to the families supported by Koinonia in Napak. They are the families of our children.
We help our small children in Napak, including the recovered girls, from their home situation. We provide food and other necessary things, and make sure that as soon as their age allows, they can go to school preferably in a dormitory. There we work through guidance on stability and growth. This is the kind of help approved by the government, and we are happy to give it to them. For the children, this help means the difference between deep misery or hope and a future!
For our care children in Napak, Corona meant a long, difficult time of isolation, instability and danger with serious consequences. The schools were closed for a long time, so the children returned full time to family situations that are not optimal and often are really difficult. While our Field Officer, Emmanuel risked his own life to bring and still brings food packages to these families, other problems remained unsolved.
During this difficult period, an additional threat had emerged. Armed cattle readers ravaged the area, plundering and killing without mercy for young or old. They would force people out of their huts and brutally abuse them. Frightened, whole families would rush to find refuge.The adults would escape with their families. The older children, especially the girls, would often find their own way out of this situation fleeing to big cities where other dangers are waiting; greedy arms of abuse and exploitation. We have prayed for these girls. We have prayed for protection for these families from the calamity.
Meanwhile, we are happy with the good news. The girls are back! To prevent loosing them again, we immediately started looking for a solution. And indeed, after a lot of discussions and research, an opportunity was presented for 20 of our elder Napak girls. In an empty school we got space at our disposal where we took care of them under our own supervision. In this way, the long period of waiting was bridged and there was a good reason to stay. They are so eager to learn and grow up!
Meanwhile, the schools are open again. What a relief and what a joy for the children! Back to their friends, picking up again where they suddenly had to leave everything behind, back to rest and space to discover and grow.
Unfortunately things do not always work out as we plan. Some of our girls we had to let go, after keeping them, caring for them, tracing them. It was not easy! Nevertheless, we keep holding them in prayer. What has been invested, sown in their lives, will push yield in due time. We, ourselves learn from the experience. It compels us even more to be ahead of this problem. In order to protect the young people from this, we intensify strengthen and guid them!