In January 2018, we embarked on a new chapter in the Seeds of Hope story, renting a building in the town, from which we could run a feeding project for children living on the streets, offering food, hope and love.
During 2019, having had over a year running the daily meal project we have changed the way we work with these young people as we weren’t seeing the change we were hoping for. The boys, having been rejected from their own families and village communities, see each other as family so gravitate towards each other and lead each other into mischief, living together in redundant buildings. They often steal and fight in the local community, which ostracizes them and causes upset for business owners in town.
It is not normal to see girls living on the streets, however girls are often rejected in families where there are step fathers. Some of those who are rejected and kicked out of home live with the street worker teams – Team No Sleep (TNS), Team No Condom (TNC), Team No Fear (TNF). The women look after the young girls and give them small tasks to do, they show kindness – the aim is not to entice them into street work however eventually these young girls will do just that if there are no other opportunities for them. Where we meet girls under the age of 16 we are trying to get into education to keep them from becoming a street worker.
There is a lovely African proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ African culture recognises that parenting is a shared responsibility – a communal affair – not just the concern of parents or grandparents, but of the extended family. Uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbours and friends can all be involved and all have a part to play. However if a child is rejected by their community the following proverb may well apply! “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth”
We now offer the opportunity for education or vocational training for those who are committed to getting off the streets. To date we have had 3 boys qualify in trades – see some of our success stories! We have a further 6 young people in school. As a result of going into education and staying there several other young people have chosen to go back to their families where we have been working to re-integrate them. The numbers of young boys living on the streets, drinking and causing trouble has more than halved since we started the project!
We have a further 5 young people who would like the opportunity to go back to school so need to raise the funds.
The local authorities now meet with Seeds of Hope to see what more can be done and we are working closely with them to try to turn these young lives around – social workers, police, local community leaders and child welfare officers.
As a result of our experiences over the last couple of years our manager Robinah has been asked if Seeds of Hope will join The Blue Cross Uganda (BCU) as a pioneer member as it goes into national status. BCU is an inter denominational Not-For Profit organisation founded in 2010 to address the problem of alcohol and drug addiction in a holistic and God centered manner to enable people of all ages to live a more responsible, purposeful and fulfilling life.
Street children continue to be offered support from the house – advice, medical care, replacement clothing, urgent support needs, special meals for celebrations such as Christmas.
We would value your support to enable us to send more of these young people to school and to keep supporting them in the hope they can make the move to get off the streets.