When we went into the slums, it was raining softly. It had been raining very hard over lunch, so the windy trails through the housing in the slums were washed out and muddy. We gathered under a shelter where many of the boys were crowded together and patiently waiting. Coach, the mentor from Amahoro that organizes the project, initiated the process with a thorough call and response. This got everyone paying attention and on the same wave length—everyone that we could. Some of the boys had glassy eyes.
We proceeded to give out worming pills and serve meals to the boys who patiently waited. Once we fed all the boys that are directly supported by Coach, we could provide food to everyone who was hanging around the outside of the tent. The Amahoro Children and Community Team works to provide 3 meals a week to 50-100 kids, and it was such an honor that the boys recognized and respected our service. They sat patiently and thanked us graciously. After the food had been consumed some of the boys more openly exposed their drug use, revealing their bottles with glue or “jet fuel,” which is the rampant drug in the slums.
A couple of rows over in the slums, at the Diamond Project house, 19 women lived in a house with 7 children. They only had one bed which was smaller than a queen size. The house was around an 8 by 7 foot space. The ACCT has worked to provide housing to these women, and birth control. We met the women and the babies that were in the home at the moment, but most of them were out because recently one of the women had just passed away. This woman had a C section a few months ago, and the operation wasn’t done well, and she acquired an infection which became fatal. Life in Kisenyi is not forgiving.
After visiting Kisenyi we went to the Nsambya Babies home. This is a home for orphans and vulnerable children between the ages of 0 and 4. It is a beautiful place with some really sweet babies. We are strengthening our relationship with the Nsambya Babies home, and we are looking forward to having our own babies home someday.
As we reviewed our day over dinner, our conversation turned from merriment to a meeting. We were in the “higher end” of the slums today, where we met people in situations that broke our hearts. Two of the boys in the slums were more familiar than anyone we hoped to see—Marvin and Abdul spent 6 years with the Amahoro home. They had been resettled with their mother who had said they were going to live in a rural area outside of Kampala. However, Marvin, Abdul and their mother ended up back in Kisenyi, staying at the Diamond project room. The goal of the Amahoro Home is to rescue and rehabilitate, and resettle. We work to take in children who need a safe home and then set them up for a nurturing childhood and a successful life.
Two of the boys who left the home to be reunited with their mother in the community ended up back in the slums. We met them today. Their mother brought them back to the slums where she now works in prostitution. “It feels like we’ve done 6 years of work for 0,” Caleb said. The slums are one of poorest places in the country, where the waste water runs down the middle of the walkways and the effects of drugs and prostitution were visible even during our short visit. Hearing Caleb’s thought of doing 6 years for 0 ignited a discussion about the ACCT’s involvement in the big picture. Ginger pointed out that we can look at the two kids who came back to the slums and focus on them. Or we can focus on the large number of kids who have rehabilitated successfully. Miriam, one of the mentors at Amahoro, estimated that 20 children are successfully settled each year.
To create lasting change, you cannot change just one part of the cycle. The Amahoro Children and Community Team has a focus on helping three homes for children in Uganda: The Matugga Home for Girls, The Youth Gateway Ranch Home for Boys, and the Buwala home, which located outside of Jinja near the Nile. Caleb Rukundo is the “father” to the homeless children at Matugga and the Ranch, while his friends Paul and Rose are the parents to the children at Buwala. Matugga and The Ranch fall under the umbrella of Caleb’s organization, Amahoro Children’s Home, while all three homes are part of the efforts that the Amahoro Children’s Community Team is working on, as well as some projects in the slums.