TOP

A home of hope for Kyenjojo's 1,200 vulnerable children

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th May 2013 11:25 AM

Kyenjojo is one of the districts with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence. Some people did not know where to go for treatment and they gave up hope for life, resulting to many deaths.

2013 5largeimg209 may 2013 082530087 703x422

Kyenjojo is one of the districts with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence. Some people did not know where to go for treatment and they gave up hope for life, resulting to many deaths.


 Uganda has been described as the Pearl of Africa. However, in this beautiful land, there are a number of harmful cultural practices that make it a place no child would want to live in. As the third series of the Tumaini Awards is launched, ANDREW MASINDE visited Kyenjojo district, where HIV/AIDS prevalence is high and taking a toll on the children.Bring Hope to the Family (BHTF) is an organisation, which is trying to help the children out of the situation.

  Kyenjojo is one of the districts with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence. Some people did not know where to go for treatment and they gave up hope for life, resulting to many deaths.


 Consequently a number of children were orphaned, resulting in more child-headed families. Many girls ended up in early marriages because they did not have parents to support them.

Faith Kunihira, who was born in Kaihura county in Kyenjojo, was touched after seeing what the orphans were going through.

Having grown up in a very poor home, Kunihira empathised with these children and felt the need to support them. She started by looking for aid from well wishers, to support the children, but failed.

Kunihira decided to take every child who was living on their own to her mud-and-wattle house.


Bringing hope to the families
Eventually, in 2000, she set up Bring Hope to the Family (BHTF), a faith-based organisation at Kaihura trading centre in Kyenjojo. It serves orphans and vulnerable children in the communities of Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kibale and Kamwenge districts.

  Like its name, the organisation has transformed the lives of orphans, widows, people living with HIV and the destitute.
 BHTF advocates child safety and protection of children from harmful practices such as child labour, child sacrifice, early marriages and domestic violence

 This has been through sensitisation of parents and community members through radio talk shows and community visits All children have the right to be protected from any form of discrimination and unfair treatment or punishment, regardless of the child’s race, religion, family status, culture, sex and whether the child has physical disability.

 

The children’s education
Home Again, an education department under BHTF, gives the children an opportunity to attend nursery, primary and secondary school education. Some children have had a chance to get university education.

  Home Again desires to educate and inspire these children to break the cycle of poverty and groom them into leaders and God-fearing members in their communities.

The organisation supports 15 early childhood development centres, where children who are not yet of primary school-going age, are provided with pre-school materials. This prepares the children for primary school.

 

Children’s rights
BHTF advocates children’s right to quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment. The organisation encourages mothers to attend antenatal care in hospitals, while fathers are encouraged to support their wives.

“We, however, discovered that much as we encouraged them, there were no hospitals. So, we set up a Hope  Again Medical Centre (HAMC) under BHTF, where mothers, people living with HIV and vulnerable children get free medical treatment,” says Kunihira.

Since its inception in April 2005, HAMC has been able to offer voluntary testing and counseling to 614 people, out of whom 125 have tested positive. Of these, 30 are orphans and vulnerable children.

The medical centre is supported by Steve Cobin from Los Angeles in the US through the Rotary Club of Kampala East. It has a post-test club that has been instrumental in reaching out to families and individuals tested for HIV/AIDS by providing counselling and referrals to Kyenjojo Hospital.

The club also conducts monthly sensitisation drama shows in Kaihura. Orphans who are HIV-positive are currently accessing ARV from Joint Clinical Research Centre and the district health unit in Kyenjojo.

Every Wednesday, BHTF facilitates its medical staff to reach out to vulnerable HIV-positive children and take services closer to them.

Since many people in the communities were poor, they failed to protect and provide basic needs for their children. BHTF works with Inter-Religious Council and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which donated heifers to the people.The heifers boosted the women’s incomes and livelihood since they got free milk and manure for their gardens.

 

Beneficiaries.

Over 600 women have cows in their homes. Margret Mpaire is a widow, who got a cow from the organisation and currently has five heifers.

She is now able to take care of her eight children by providing their basic needs, while the organisation sponsors their education.

BHTF has established a good working relationship with the Police and district community development office. To that effect, many children, who are picked by the Police, are referred to BHTF and other community-based organisations like RWIDE, DIFORA, Burden Bearers, churches and local community leaders who take them on. BHTF gives psychosocial support to vulnerable children and their families

Every first and last Saturday of the month, the children converge at 28 centres, where they are counselled.  It is during these meetings that the children’s concerns are addressed.

“The centre coordinators and other church leaders whom we work with submit monthly reports to enable us plan and report,” says Kunihira.

“Serving a population of more than 50,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS means a lot because every now and then there is one who dies, leaving a child who is vulnerable. BHTF has reached out to more than 1,200 children through provision of formal and informal education and scholastic materials in the 28 centres,” Kunihira explains.


Some of the benefitting children in primary school

Vocational training

Through BHTF vocational training school, 18 children have acquired various hands-on skills and are awaiting graduation. Currently Docas Vocational School has 76 girls studying tailoring, agriculture, home management, hairdressing and cookery. Sixteen boys are being trained in welding.

A home of hope for Kyenjojo''s 1,200 vulnerable children

Related Articles

More From The Author

Related articles