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While spending weeks at HWMCO’s location during my most recent trip to Uganda, I have, together with Happy, visited the families of many children that participate in the activities from the organization. Because of the long distances, we used a boda boda (motorcycle) to make those visits, but the children are walking the distance from their homes to the location of the organization every time when they come there, even barefoot. It is not only children from the village of Mbaba that love to take part in activities. Also, many children from neighboring villages have joined and they don’t mind about having to walk the long distance to the organization.
Often, while reaching a family’s home, the first thing I noticed were clothes drying at the washing line that looked very familiar to me. No wonder, because these were the children’s clothes that they used to wear while spending the day at the location. With them obviously being their most representative clothes, they wear them as much as possible on such days. In their home situations, we found the children were often poorly dressed.
We were very warmly welcomed by all families and invited into their simple houses. Furniture, if at all present, consisted of a few basic plastic chairs. Sometimes we found a couch present, from which the cushions were missing. In some cases it happened that we were offered the only chairs or a bench present and the people themselves would be seated on the floor. Not surprisingly, none of these poor families had electricity or even safe water available at their houses.
I learned that many of the children, probably even the majority of them, are cared for by their grandmothers. The parents have either died from AIDS, they have split up and both disappeared, they are drug or alcohol addicted, or they have simply run away because they could no longer handle the circumstances they were living in; in many cases leaving their children behind with a grandmother. These grandmothers are giving their all to provide their grandchildren the best they can, yet, the sad reality is that they are old and weak. The photo slider below shows some of these loving grandmothers, but it can be seen so clearly that they are very fragile and should better not be bothered with the heavy task of raising young children and everything that comes with it. Yet, they often turn out to be the only hope for the children. All the grandmothers we met were complaining about their painful backs that prevented them from working on the land.
We would have a conversation with them, during which I learned more about their living circumstances. In several cases, their children would join us only later, as they had been sent out, for example to fetch water or to collect wood for cooking. Sometimes, a (grand)parent entrusted us with behaviors of their (grand)children that were not so good and asked our help in guiding them. Also, Happy and I tried to bring the awareness that it is of great importance for their children that they get opportunities to develop themselves and build themselves a good future. That awareness is absent in many (grand)parents; unfortunately, living in deep villages of rural Uganda, it is their understanding that, if their (grand)children just know how to work on their land, that is enough for them to manage their lives. It is how it has been generation after generation, so they are not aware of other approaches. Yet, they told us that they were very grateful for all that their children are learning from activities at HWMCO.
My visit was enormously appreciated at all families. Not after having made a photograph, and promising the families that they would receive a printed copy of that, we left for the next family.
The children deserve to get those opportunities to develop themselves and build themselves a good future. Children are most flexible and open to learning, so while wanting to bring positive changes, they are the most suitable group to start with, for them to forward what they have been taught to future generations. We have a long way to go, but we are so very happy and grateful for what we have already achieved so far!
‘We Fight Poverty by Bringing Development.’
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