In January 2013, we saw a sad story about the children’s prison in Kampala. It brought the distressing situation of street children in the capital of Uganda to light. The pictures were shown in the Belgian and Dutch national channels and the documentary showed interviews from children between 2-14 years old who were trapped in appalling conditions.
It was the Ugandan government who had decided to place these children in the children’s prison in order to curb the number of street children from growing further. The phenomenon of street children is very difficult to combat because many of them are abused by adults and are forced to beg. The children are exposed to assaults, traffic hazards and neglect by their community. They survive without any protection or hope for their future.
Koinonia visited the children’s prison in Kampala and decided to take action. Despite the large number of organizations that operate in the streets of the capital, the street children ‘plague’ is totally out of control. After a year of negotiations and preparations, Koinonia became an official partner of UWESO (Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans), which has been working among street children in the capital. The UWESO is an initiative of the wife of the President of the country.
They pay particular attention to the children from the north of the country, who represent 70% of the total number of street children. Koinonia and UWESO, in consultation with the government, are committed to rehabilitate and resettle the street children of Kampala and the surrounding region. While planning and evaluation is the responsibility of both organizations, UWESO provides the facilities and buildings while Koinonia provides the funds for the project and is directly involved in its implementation.
In April 2014, the first 66 children were taken from the children’s prison and brought to the the new rehabilitation home in Masulita. These children all came from the north of the country. Nine months later, after several visits to the north, we began the process of resettlement of these children in their communities. The procedure and follow-up of children in their home environment is one of the most important aspects in the rehabilitation of street children.
Most of them come from poverty stricken and broken families. The appropriate support of the child and parents or guardian is crucial and greatly reduces the risk of falling back into the cycle of poverty and begging. In the transition phase of the first group of children being reunited with their families, we aim simultaneously to take on another group of 38 children from the children’s prison into our rehabilitation home. You can sponsor one of our new children also!
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