This project started in December 2000 when two missionaries in Uganda encountered a group street child and, wanting to help them, bought them a simple meal. They prayed together with the children asking God to help them and that they would always have enough to eat. In the following weeks they organised a daily feeding project.
Nevertheless, these children were still living on the streets and there was need for further action through supportive consultation and guidance. The rehabilitation home opened its doors in 2006. With this house the children were given a permanent residence. The center currently provides assistance to 57 children.
How it started…
In August 2000 Koinonia sent a group for a mission to Uganda. Touched by the needs in Kisoro, the third poorest district in the south of the country, we sought support back in Belgium and returned in December 2000 for feasibility studies. It was then that we encountered our first street children of the town (see photo). There were 22 boys. They survived on hotel leftovers, occasional casual work and other means – some of this being illegal or dangerous.
We took them for a meal to a local restaurant and prayed with them that they would not lack food anymore. When we departed we left, under the care of a local church, sufficient resources to provide a month’s food. When we came back to Belgium, we set up a financial arrangement so that the church could provide a warm meal every day for them.
In the summer of 2001 we made plans for the children to be overseen by leaders of local churches. The intention was to give spiritual and social guidance to the children and to motivate them to go to school although, at that time, they still lived on the streets.
Food is a basic need…
The daily feeding was a first step in the right direction but there was a real need for housing the children, a safe base where they could stay and have their needs individually addressed.
But for three years we could only keep it to feeding. At a certain moment we were compelled to pause due to financial shortages. We lost two of our children at this terrible time.
Maniragaba, one of them, was shot dead by night guards when breaking into the roof of a house to steal. Emmanuel was beaten to death when found with stolen goods…
Every child is precious!
The lack of food, something our society takes for granted, can indeed lead children to theft and crime in poorer and less developed parts of the world. During the period when the feeding programme could not be financially supported the children’s contact with the church and those who supported them was cut off, resulting in a drop in moral. Most of them dropped out of school as well.
A new beginning…
At the beginning of 2004, we began to pray intensely for these children, raised funds amongst ourselves, restarted the feeding program and worked through our local partners on the files of individual children – investigating their origin, background, current status and potential.
We visited the children in August 2004 again and this time we discussed with the local authorities the possibility of developing a local building that could serve as a rehabilitation centre for these children. We submitted an official application before leaving. For almost a year we negotiated with the district authorities and simultaneously made preparations for the next stage of the project.
Finally a home…
After long negotiations, the Kisoro district authorities donated an old community house (check photos). We agreed to do all the renovation work.
We re-organized ourselves and prepared renovation plans so that when the final approval was issued we would be ready to start working on the old house. In June 2005 we signed an official agreement and work began on the 30th of July 2005!
With this house the children were given a permanent residence. The center currently provides assistance to 57 children.
We admitted our first street girls in March 2008.
We are now planning to raise a new home exclusively for girls during 2011. We are waiting on the signature of a contract, enabling this, with the local authorities.
Alongside the home in Nyakabande, we run a weekly feeding project for another twenty street children in the town of Kisoro.