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Back from Uganda

In February members of our UK team travelled to Uganda for our annual visit. We are so grateful for any opportunity for our two teams to be able to come together. Despite working in different continents, the Kids Club Kampala team always has and continues to feel like a family, working together with local communities for long term change. 



The purpose of this trip was for our UK team to visit each of our Programmes, and meet with staff, volunteers and students in Uganda. We have so much to tell you about our time in Uganda, and update you on what's been going on at each of our Programmes …

 

Education

Individual Giving Manager Andy reflects on his experience …






Our Encouraging Education Project provides early years education to children aged 3-6 years old. The project currently takes place in the slums of Katanga, Namuwongo and Naguru, with roughly 30 children from each community accessing our free daily classes.


During the trip we were fortunate enough to visit our brilliant purpose built education centres in Katanga and Namuwongo, but very sadly our wonderful centre in Naguru had recently been demolished. It was very challenging to see the empty ground where the centre once stood, but what was perhaps even more difficult was seeing the children now crammed into a tiny temporary classroom whilst we work on finding a more permanent solution.




Despite the immediate challenges, it was simply a joy to be able to see children that were clearly happy, safe and having fun! A lot of this is testament to our fantastic teachers who have so much passion for their work and went above and beyond to ensure each and every child was supported. The classes themselves were very well organised but also benefited from taking an informal approach, whereby lessons followed the Ugandan curriculum but there was also plenty of time for the children to learn creatively through play. At the end of each class each child also received a hot nutritious meal, helping to tackle malnutrition whilst at the same time helping to ensure good levels of attendance and concentration.



 

Skilling

Supporter Care Officer Luke reflects on visiting our Skilling Programmes …







Our Skilling Programme seeks to promote independence through giving teenagers and adults valuable, income generating skills that allow them to support themselves and their families. 


Tailoring and Knitting

With the help of our wonderful supporters we were able to raise the funds in our Big Give 2022 campaign to build a new Hope Centre to house our Tailoring and Knitting centre in Naguru - the slum community next to the office. It is called the Hope centre, which I think is the perfect name as it represents what our Tailoring and Knitting project provides to so many women - hope! People who are in need of an income generating skill can sign up to our Tailoring and Knitting course and receive 4 months of free training, at the end of which they gain an officially recognised qualification. At the end of the course we do our best to provide graduates with their own sewing machine, but if there is a bit of a wait to receive this or if they want to come and collaborate with other graduates, we have some sewing machines available upstairs that they can come and use for free. Thanks to the Hope centre we are now able to train 70 people to gain a life changing skill at any one time. The clothing the students produced really was fantastic, we were blown away by looking at some of the things they had made when we visited.



Carpentry

Our Carpentry Project is based in Katanga slum and the training provided is extremely comprehensive. The course lasts for 1 year and just like with the Tailoring and Knitting project, students come out with an income generating skill and an officially recognised qualification to prove it! However, the requirements to receive this qualification are very extensive, and so the carpentry course runs for a year. Not only do the teenagers and young men who enrol on the carpentry course gain a life changing skill, they make friends, stay off the streets and grow as people. We joined the Ugandan team in the prayer meeting on our trip and during worship the boys from the carpentry project joined from the workshop on Zoom with the trainer, Simon. It was lovely to see them join in worship with us and one of the boys even had a word to share.  



 

Child Protection

Fundraising and Communications Officer Lauren looks back on our time at the Child Protection Programme …







During our project packed week, we visited all of our Child Protection projects, including Saturday Kids Clubs, our Football Project and the Ewafe Project. 


Ewafe

The Ewafe Project was first on our list, and after travelling around 2 hours outside of Kampala, we reached the gates of the Ewafe Project. Here we quite literally felt at home after a warm welcome from the fantastic staff and houseparents which is testament to the origin of the name of the home, meaning ‘where we belong’ in Luganda. On our tour of the grounds we saw the dorm rooms, activities room, garden, play area, kitchen, medical centre, dining room, offices and animals. The team here often has a hard time getting the children to leave our garden as they enjoy cultivating crops such as jackfruit, bananas, sweet potatoes and more with our gardener, Ronnie. It was such a pleasure to fully experience how warm the atmosphere was, and see how happy and cared for the children were. We currently have 85 children staying at the Ewafe Project, including a family of 8 siblings. Parents of the children are encouraged to visit and call, with hopes of reintegration in the future.



Football 

We kicked off our Saturday by visiting our Football Project in Namuwongo where we were met with a team of boys, their coach, and the assistant coach who also cares for the pitch. All of the coaches here are volunteers, and give up their weekends to help boys and young men to develop their football skills. We were lucky enough to join in on a match, and got a run for our money as the boys demonstrated just how good they are! At half time everyone received a banana and a bottle of water before starting the second half. One of the things we noticed whilst here was the lack of football boots and trainers, as most boys were playing in rubber sliders or crocs. These trips are so important as they highlight the changing needs within the communities we work with, and even fine details like football boots which we can support with are essential in supporting the people we work with. 



Saturday Kids Clubs

Our Saturday kept getting better and better as we later visited a Saturday Kids Club in Naguru. These clubs happen every Saturday across Kampala, and begin with worship and praise and discuss the week's theme of ‘love’ and what it means. Later the boys and girls split into groups and we were asked to deliver group counselling around periods and personal hygiene. It was wonderful to be a part of such fun activities and meet so many amazing and empowering young people. After eating some delicious chapati and having some juice we taught the children how to play red light, green light. We loved meeting all of the incredible community volunteers who generously give up their time to run these clubs. Saturday really is the best day of the week!



 

Opportunities and Challenges

Interim CEO Jo reflects on her experience and learnings …







It was amazing to finally visit our projects in Uganda, after 4 years! I started with Kids Club Kampala in February 2020, and worked on our emergency response to COVID-19 in our communities, speaking to a lot of our wonderful donors about the challenges our community was facing during that time. It felt really monumental to be able to finally see the work and to meet the incredible Ugandan team in person, even though I knew all of their names and faces so well!


The scope of our operations out in Uganda is really hard to describe, but is really huge. We try to demonstrate this through our impact numbers and stories that we regularly share, but being able to visit communities and meet the kids and parents that we’re working with really showcased how extensive the impact is that we have on the ground. I’m so grateful to the team in Uganda for their limitless passion, drive and mission to support so many children and to drive this change where it really counts. 


In any organisation, there are bound to be challenges, but the main one I came away with was a simple one - lack of resources. Since our independent evaluation towards the end of 2022, we know and understand our effectiveness, and we have been acting upon the recommendations that were set out for us in that report - we’ve already closed down our food banks, for example, which was a recommendation both in the report and also from our team in Uganda. The main barrier to our ambition to help as many kids as possible that need our help and support to survive and thrive, is a lack of funding. In many areas, this was holding us back. For example, the closure of our recent centre in Naguru due to not owning that land led to a significant loss of impact in that community, which we’re working hard to address. The need in communities such as Mbuya, Bokoto and Wakiso is huge, but at the moment we’re struggling to maintain our existing projects, let alone expand our provision into other communities that desperately need our support. 


This is why we’re working on our Vision 30 strategy. We’re lucky to have the Independent Evaluation, and strong Governance systems that have been built up over the last 15 years of learning, development and adaption. Now, we know we need to scale. Many communities don’t have the scale of provision that they need, and in many we run our Saturday Kids Clubs each week and the local leaders tell us they need an early education centre, safeguarding volunteers, a skilling programme for parents. But our lack of funding is holding us back. The team in Uganda have the expert knowledge, drive and determination to deliver to these communities, but we need more funds. This year, we’re hoping to reach new audiences and deliver the greatest impact we can to as many kids as possible, but we need you to enable this. 


Please look out for our upcoming Impact Report, which showcases the work we’ve completed in 2023, and will include our Vision 30 strategy. You can register your interest to receive this in the post now, and if you have any ideas or ways of supporting us to grow, please let me know: jo@kidsclubkampala.org

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