Welcome to Lena!
Baby Lena came to Kids of Africa this summer. She arrived seven days after her birth – undernourished, and weighing just 1.5 kg. Lena’s mother died during childbirth, and the police are looking for the father or any other relatives, but there seems to be no trace.
Experienced senior social worker Maria asked Kids of Africa to take Lena in at least temporarily. Should Lena’s biological family not be found, the guardianship will no doubt become a long-term one. Of course, we would never dream of refusing Lena our care, and in the mean time, her health has already become more stable. She is currently in the best possible hands, staying with Agnes who has been one of our foster mothers for a good number of years.
Lena’s tragic story illustrates much of what is wrong with the Wakiso District where the village is located. I recently met with Maria, the senior social worker, for a comprehensive exchange of views. She is highly committed to her job and very experienced, with over 20 years of work to her name, guided by love and common sense in equal measure. She also specifically asked me to thank all of Kids of Africa’s supporters on her behalf, and to let them know what we had discussed.
- In terms of population, Wakiso is the largest administrative area in Uganda, and is home to around 1.7 million people, primarily housed in slums. The district sprawls across Kampala like a belt, and its shape – combined with the traffic chaos in the Ugandan capital – make it impossible to carry out sustainable social work, particularly since Maria has just four colleagues to help her cover the whole district.
- She is therefore even more dependent on reliable aid organisations, and is fulsome in her praise of Kids of Africa throughout the conversation. “Working together is never usually like this,” she keeps repeating. According to a current UNICEF study, Maria explains, the actual number of so-called aid organisations which misuse the title is frighteningly high – a fact that brought a real lump to my throat.
- These organisations vary – some are simply helpless, others are awful places which add more suffering and pain to those they are meant to be protecting. Maria told me of horrifying assaults, child trafficking and forced prostitution. She had only recently met most likely the youngest mother in the district – an 11-year-old girl who had been abused by the director of a home, who obviously denies everything. An 18-year-old woman there has just had her third child. Elsewhere, a one-year-old boy was the victim of a ritual sacrifice in an attempt to drive out the AIDS virus from an adult by means of spiritual practices.
- All of these human tragedies tend not to be heard. Refuges like the Kids of Africa children’s village are often the only source of hope for people like the ones just mentioned. “Those who are affected cannot thank you enough the stable support they receive,” says Maria over and over again.
Moments of happiness
would rather finish off this newsletter on a happier note, and there have been plenty of those since last I wrote. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few snapshots of happiness.
A final thought
Happiness is the only thing that doubles when you share it.
On behalf of the many wonderful children in our care (nearly 500 of them now, in the school and the village), we would like to thank you for your support, helping us to share in your happiness! This year is already proving to be a difficult one for Kids of Africa, with the growing numbers of refugees around the world meaning that we have seen a significant drop in terms of incoming donations.