As our ‘Give a Child a Chance’ sponsorship programme grew, we became increasingly aware of the high number of children loitering on the streets of Kabale every day. These children are single or double orphans, or have been forced to leave their families for various reasons: mainly poverty and physical abuse.
We knew of several initiatives that helped these children in Uganda, but all of them tended to either provide short-term assistance in the way of meals and clothing, or they were effectively orphanages; providing long-term care for fixed groups of children and unable to expand their reach. None of these charities were providing the crucial solution: to get the children off the streets and into education as well as re-integrating them with a family or community.
We knew we had to do something and solution came one evening when walking through town and we were approached by a street child who needed help. He said his name was Christmas, but it clear that apart from providing Christmas with something to eat and a change of clothes, we were unable to provide him with anything that would serve him beyond the immediate relief.
After a lot of research, planning and fundraising the Amasiko Street Children Programme came into being.
The drop in center
The Amasiko Drop-in Centre is open every day for street children to have access to two warm meals per day, basic health care, bathroom & laundry facilities and a change of clothes. While these basic needs are taken care of, the children are encouraged to speak to the staff about their circumstances and a profile for each child is drawn up.
The dedicated staff members try to trace the child’s family and encourage the children to join them for a home visit. This is the first small step to a possible re-unification of the family where that is feasible.
Option for Orphan Child and Foster Carer
If a child has no family, or the conditions within the family are such that the child cannot safely return home, a suitable foster family is found. These families are vetted by the local Probation and Childcare officers and the Amasiko staff undertakes regular follow-up visits to ensure the well-being of the child.
Enrollment into Formal Education
In the case of younger children we endeavour to find a sponsor through the ‘Give a Child a Chance’ programme. These children become boarders at the school and their daily needs are met there, many of them staying on throughout the holidays as foster families are not easily found.
Thus the Amasiko Street Children programme is a process rather than a destination, which helps us to expand our reach to the many other children on streets and in danger of abuse.
Phase 2: Temporay Home
The second phase of the Amasiko Street children programme is the Amasiko Halfway house. Once completed, the house will provide a temporary home for about 32 of the older children at a time. They will have access to counselling and the opportunity to gain a skill to enable them to become self-sufficient and contributing members of their community. The Amasiko Halfway House will open in September 2017.