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 organized 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 centre provides residential assistance to 24-48 children and additional support and care to numerous children and families.
How it started…
In August 2000 Koinonia sent a team for a mission to Uganda. Touched by the needs in Kisoro, the third poorest district in the south of the country, they sought support back in Belgium and returned in December 2000 for feasibility studies. It was then that they traced the first street children of the town (see photo). There were 22 boys. They survived on hotel leftovers, occasional work, selling things they would find at the garbage and other means – some of this being illegal or dangerous.
The two missionaries took them for a meal to a local restaurant and prayed with them that they would not lack food anymore. Before travelling back, they left sufficient resources to provide a month’s food. When they came back to Belgium, somebody offered the full monthly support for their daily meal. Later on, other financial arrangements made it possible, sometimes by the gifts of one person and sometime by different pieces of one puzzle… to provide a warm meal every day for them.
Although the children still lived on the street, small-scale support and guidance was provided through the daily feeding programme and the contact. Several of those children were helped in many ways; some to return home or to school, others to get a job or to take up their rights on a piece of land that belonged to a deceased parent.
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 feeding was the only thing that Koinonia could provide. At a certain moment even that was seized for two months, between December 2013 and January 2014, due to financial shortages. Two of the children did not make it through 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 carried out, the contact between the children and the people from the churches that helped them was cut off, resulting in a drop in moral. Most of them dropped out of school as well.
A new beginning…
The loss of two children shocked the whole Koinonia team and set everyone on action, determined: we won’t leave anyone behind! At the beginning of 2004, Koinonia started the first systematic sponsorship and campaigns among the members and families involved, first, to raise funds. The daily feeding program was restarted and even more, personal files of the children were worked on with a structured plan for each child according to their origin, background. and condition.
In August 2004, Koinonia negotiated a possible housing with the local authorities. Almost a year later, an old house with a piece of land was released for the benefit of the street children of Kisoro.
Finally a home…
After long negotiations, the Kisoro district authorities leased an old community house (check photos). Koinonia agreed to do all the renovation work.
Meanwhile, people were working at the home front, joining hands t prepare a budget for this. With few hands and possibilities, but with a lot of diligence, conviction and faith, the objective was achieved. In June 2005 Koinonia signed an official agreement and on July 30, 2005 work started!
The street children of Kisoro finally had a place to stay. From there their lives and future are worked on.
The first street girls were received in March 2008. A separate house was set up for them in 2014.
Next to the house in Nyakabande, Koinonia continues to reach out to the street children of Kisoro with weekly meals that bring the organization into contact with children and help them go to school, home or at the rehabilitation home of Koinonia.