Kabale is a town build on hills with cool climate, many waters and beautiful green landscape. It is located close by one of the boarders to Rwanda, at the South-West of Uganda. It is the capital of a district and a commercial centre.
One of the records of the city is the unfortunate numbers of street children; those that literally have their home and lives on the streets. They gather from different villages and sub-counties of the region while fleeing away from poverty, neglecting or as a result of bad influences. They end up at the closest big town in search of a refuge and an opportunity. Many of them find consequently their way to the huge capital that counts 10.000.000 of citizens, consumed in the unanimity and under the law of the strongest that rules on the streets. Kabale street children of the capital rank as second in numbers.
The street children of Kabale live mainly around the garbage heaps of the town. The smell and the environment is beyond description but they seem to be acquainted with it as they find there some things to sell and survive. They live in groups, engage in gum sniffing, marijuana smoking and the like. Drugs are called ‘the blanket of the street’. They offer an escape from the cold during the night and the abuse of the hard street life. At the same time, they are related to violence, criminality and gang life.
Several organisations are doing a credible job in Kabale. After 12 years serving children in Kisoro as the only street children organisation, Koinonia assessed the need to start engaging with the street children in Kabale.
In December 2012, the team started with weekly feeding programmes at the court yard of the local partner, Kabale Full Gospel Church. The initiative soon developed to daily feeding.
Feeding is the place that gathers the street children together and offers an opportunity to get to know them, understand the reasons that brings them to the streets but is also the first step to help them get out of the streets. The heart of feeding is the reading of the Bible and the prayer. It is amazing how children from all ages can understand that language and that no matter what the struggles of life are, and even if their own parents have failed them, God loves them, wants and can help them.
A few months later, one room was availed as a shelter in the church compound for the children and one room for the staff. It was a solution out of a need, that served for quite a long time with all the challenges involved.
As lovely as children may be, street life is a tough attitude that finds deep roots in their hearts, like a plant that gets hold of the ground and does not want to let go…
Getting children out of the streets is one thing. Getting the street out of the children is a different thing and that involves time, patience and a procedure. We call that rehabilitation.
In March 2015, the rehabilitation home of Koinonia in Kabale started in rented house at the hills of Kabale.
Currently, a number of children arehelped in the home and others have been meanwhile resettled at their families of origin (where possible). They are supported and supervised through their homes on their way to self-sustainability.
Education, skill training or a combination of both is a very important part in the process while the spiritual and socio-psychological support is the other part of the story throughout.
Some children, especially those that have not been long time on the streets or those that have reached an age limit beyond our ability to admit, are helped directly from the street to their home. Every case is different and our approach takes account of the individual.
The age of the children varies from 5 to 16 years in the home and goes far beyond that for services extended outside the rehab home.
This project offers:
- A weekly meal for the street children in Kabale.
- Shelter and education, for admitted children.
- Opportunity for basic, secondary or vocational education for each child under the care of the organization.
- Social services towards the family and family reunion where possible.
- Support, guidance and follow-up of children that have been placed in families.