|Wake Up Barbara!
And Help Me Find This Snake!
Uganda’s Orphans and Abandoned Children
Question: “How does one swallow an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.”
The “Orphan” elephant in Uganda is a huge beast, but try as we may it refuses to go away. Would it be possible to take one small bite and if so, where does one begin?
We began by sharing our concern with family and friends and asked ourselves what could we do to encourage donations towards this project. My husband, though not a carpenter, enjoys doing simple projects with wood. He was willing to make little bird houses and I painted little scenes on these and offered one as a gift for a donation toward the work. This encouraged people to give and also helped make the project known.
We returned to Uganda with the fruit of our labor, not a large sum of money but we felt it was a beginning. The next big hurdle was the first bite of the elephant. Where would we start?
In retrospect, this was the most difficult part. It is easy to give away money, but we wanted to make sure it would be used for the right purpose. We interviewed and were interviewed from early morning to night and discovered others had made a start without counting the cost of maintaining and sustaining such a project. There had to be a way and finally we found it, an organization called Africare. It ran a children’s home about seventeen miles outside the capital city of Kampala. This is a well kept, well organized place and is recognized by the Uganda Government as a model children’s home. It is called Besaniya, Bethany in English, and has proved to be worthy of our attention.
It is located on land that has a beautiful view over a valley, with Lake Victoria in the distance. The number of children housed there is less than fifty as they want it to be a home rather than an institution and has Ugandan house parents. These boys have been orphaned because of war and the AIDs epidemic. They live in little houses similar to African huts, but made of concrete with tin roofs. Each of these “pods” accommodates six to eight boys, one of which is a senior boy. They are responsible to do their own laundry by hand, keep their house clean and tidy and take care of the grounds.
Often the police or magistrates bring in abandoned children aged two or three years old. It can take up to a year for these little ones to adjust and even to speak, but eventually the trauma lessens and they learn to trust and even to laugh.
They attend public and high school and a scholarship fund has been established for the bright boys to go on to University or Trade school.
Another part of the program is paying school fees for children who are in foster homes or living with relatives. There is nothing of greater value in a country like Uganda than education. It opens the doors to independence and is greatly appreciated.
On our return visits we always receive a warm welcome. It is music to my ears to be called Grandma Daisy. Read more in “The Islands in Lake Victoria.”