Wells of Hope in Action: Elma Community Grants Program

Accelerator Program 2018-2019 (Cohort 2)

1st-5th July 2019 in cape town, south africa

Mrs. Ssuubi in training with her colleagues.

We are so grateful to Elma Philanthropies for the opportunity provided to Wells of Hope Ministries. Our Executive Director, Ellen Ssuubi, joined her colleagues, directors of Elma Community Grants Program (ECGP) Accelerator Program grantees, on their two-year capacity building and organizational strengthening. This marked the third session, which took place in Cape Town, South Africa. The Directors were taken through training on three areas identified as needing to be strengthened in their respective organizations. These topics included: “Resource Mobilization/Fundraising,” facilitated by Ms. Kristin O’Sullivan (ELMA), “Technology for Your Organization,” by Mr. Arnold Ndifhedzo Netshambidi (Phambano Technology Development Centre), “Monitoring and Evaluation,” by Ms. Ruth Mapara (ELMA) and “Succession Plan,” by Ms. Bernadette Moffat (ELMA).

“I’m so grateful to Elma,” exclaims Mrs. Ssuubi, “for the great support rendered to our community led organizations. They are not only supporting us financially, but they have elevated and appreciated the leaders of these organizations, helping us appreciate and value ourselves beyond the services we are providing for our beneficiaries.”

Furthermore, Mrs. Ssuubi was exposed to new learning practices with and from her fellow leaders. During their reflection on the Neuro Linguistic Program, she shared on how much she has learned the importance of effective communication in Wells of Hope’s service delivery. She has been able to pass these skills on to her team. Mrs. Ssuubi reflects, “I have been able to fast-track my leadership growth because of these sessions. Sharing our experiences as leaders has taught me quite remarkable lessons in streamlining and improving and strengthening our systems as an organization.”

Additionally, she visited Breede Valley Association for Persons with Disabilities in Worcester, Cape Town. She considers this a breath-taking experience where she got to appreciate the different purposes each community led organization serves. Breede Valley, as Mrs. Ssuubi recalls, “has and is transforming lives of children into youth and adults who are well cared for and given hope in life despite their different conditions.” She enjoyed seeing the youths and adults doing jobs that a well capacitated person can do – and doing it much better. They completed these tasks, such as laundry and dry-cleaning, to both give back to the community and earn some money. Mrs. Ssuubi found this quite exhilarating.

“I feel encouraged that we can all make a difference – in our different organizations – thanks to ELMA!”

#RestoringHope: Children’s Prison Visit

I followed a flurry of blue dresses and pants. We climbed a set of concrete stairs, took a left turn, and filed into a small, rectangular room. I held onto a young girl’s hand, gently pulling her along the corridor. Shelves lined the walls, labeled according to the subject each one featured – primary school, secondary school, law, accounting, sociology. The list seemed endless. We spread ourselves out on a straw mat, anxiously awaiting the women’s arrival.

Once a term, or three times during the school year, children under the care of Wells of Hope visit their incarcerated parents. These visits provide both the children and the inmates with a unique opportunity, as both parties have the ability to interact with one another without bars or gates creating a separation between them. The children receive the benefits of spending time with a loved one or parent, while the inmates feel motivated to create and sustain a positive life outside of the prison walls.

The children before visiting prison.

On 25 July, I had the opportunity to accompany eleven Wells of Hope students and pupils to visit their mothers at Women’s Prison Luzira. If I were to summarize the day into one word, I would, hands down, say emotional. At times, I found it difficult to match the children with their parents – the women were excited to see all of the children, not just their own. These women, and their children, had become their own version of a family – complicated, but full of undying love and support. I felt extremely humbled sitting in the presence of all these children.

Throughout our visit, I got to observe the children interacting with their parents. Some interactions involved simple conversation, while at other times, the parents had put together large packs of gifts and clothes for their children. Part-way through our time together, we all shared a meal together: rice, matooke, beans, eggplants, greens, meat, and chapatti. Multiple women approached me, thanking me for taking care of their children. I smiled and nodded in response; I felt beyond lucky to work with all of these incredible children.

During my time in Upper Prison Luzira, I came to learn of how much Wells of Hope impacted these parents’ lives. One father says, “[Wells of Hope] [has] been our ambassador. The world judged us, but Wells of Hope is there for us.”

Another commented, saying, “I didn’t know my child could learn how to write.”

In Upper Prison Luzira, one of the fathers shared, “at the time I was imprisoned (that is, 2006), Susan was 2 years old and Onan was 9 months old. It had never occurred to me that I would ever see them. The joy I feel is inexplicable! I thank Wells of Hope for reuniting me with them and for taking care of them.” This father saw his children for the first time last year.

Wells of Hope creates a reciprocal relationship with its beneficiaries, trying to facilitate positive and healthy change in all three groups: the incarcerated, the incarcerated person’s children, and the community of the incarcerated person. This would not be possible without all of Wells of Hope’s donors, volunteers, sponsors, and partners.

We’d like to thank Grace Fellowship Duarte for making this visit possible! Thank you for your generosity.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from University of Michigan, USA

World Youth Skills Day: Both a Celebration and a Reminder

Before beginning my discussion about the creation and importance of World Youth Skills Day, I would like to provide you with some context. All of these statistics apply specifically to Uganda.

  1. One out of every five people is of primary school age (6-12 years old).
  2. 53.6% of the population is below the age of 18.
  3. 56.9% of the population works in “vulnerable employment,” defined by Uganda Bureau of Statistics as “less likely to have formal work arrangements.”
  4. 68% of children aged 14-17 work in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
  5. 37.3% of the employed population has had “some primary education.”

I don’t bring up these statistics to evoke feelings of pity. Instead, I encourage all to view these statistics as an opportunity for change. I, personally, believe that employing children with practical skills is a method of combatting some of these high statistics, especially given the young-leaning nature of Uganda’s population.

Therefore, in following this logic, World Youth Skills Day is a day to be recognized, remembered, and celebrated. As quoted from WorldSkills.org, Sri Lanka spearheaded a resolution, with the assistance of the G77 and China, “to highlight at a global level, the importance of youth skills development.” The campaign has a singular goal: to improve the socio-economic standards for youth, including combatting issues of unemployment and underemployment. On 18 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution, marking 15 July to recognize work that has already been completed and promote skill building and usage among the world’s youth population. This year’s theme, Learning to Learn for Life and Work, encourages students to share how learning a particular skill has impacted their life.

What of children with incarcerated parents, however? A study conducted by Wells of Hope found that 90% of imprisoned individuals came poor socio-economic backgrounds. This, compounded with children often becoming household heads, given that 98% of incarcerated people are men, leads to many children with incarcerated parents turning to hard labor or sex work. Wells of Hope, on the other hand, provides a space to support children in their learning, through the creation of both a primary and secondary school: Wells of Hope Junior School and Wells of Hope High School. By the end of 2019, Wells of Hope aims to place twenty children in tertiary or vocational schools to equip them with new skills. Wells of Hope believes in facilitating sustainable change by funneling resources back into the community, after gaining the necessary skills to foster said change.

These efforts cannot be completed alone. To combat youth unemployment and underemployment, multiple parties must come together to encourage skill building and positive change. Wells of Hope functions as one cog of the larger machine, prompting children to believe in themselves and their futures, as all children should have the opportunity to do.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from University of Michigan USA

Give Thanks to the Lord, He’s God and King

After the long wait, I was finally able to get on board with the rest of the team heading to Wells of Hope Junior School for the Thanksgiving Service organized by the Head of Discipleship, Pastor Mark.

We arrived safely, and we were a team of 5. The smartly dressed children sang so beautifully and were led by Mercy Mugoya. The first song encouraged us not to worship idols. Soon after the presentation, Brian from Wells of Hope High School (WOHHS) took us through the program and promised that some students from WOHHS were also coming to attend the service. They were going to make some presentations, which really excited me as I looked forward to interacting with them also.

“God loves a cheerful giver,” Michael our first preacher emphasized, we read from 2Corinthians 9:7-8. We learnt that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.

Pastor Mark also taught from the book of 1 kings 3:3- 9, and Psalm 50:23. We got to learn that God is honored and also pleased when we bring sacrifices at his altar as he accepts and blesses us; we also find favor in his eyes and the eyes of men. Pr Mark said that we can thank God with songs of praise, shouts and worship, music and instruments and with our offerings. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, was the memory verse, and we all recited it together with the children.

After the hearty sermon, my heart was ready to give and I believe it was the same for the rest of the congregation. We went with our offerings while singing praises and with thankful hearts. The Pastor prayed for our offerings and, indeed, I felt blessed.

Soon after, we had the presentations form the High School that included mostly dancing. My best moment was when we had staff dancing along with the children.

Shortly after, the children joined by the staff offered thanks to God for all Wells of Hope friends, sponsors and partners. They continued to thank God for the construction of the administration block which is progressing.

We thank God for all our sponsors that have faithfully given to a child with a parent in prison month after month. The whole team at Wells of Hope has you at heart and a special prayer was made for all of you at our wall of appreciation.

We later enjoyed a great meal with the children. We thank God, our provider!

Written by Jacqueline Nakinda, Administration Officer

Kanzu Code at Wells of Hope

Saturday 6th July 2019 found us having a wonderful day at Wells of Hope Schools with 14 members from Kanzu Code who were there to visit the children. The day started at Wells of Hope High School with the Kanzu Code team arriving at 11:30 am. They were welcomed to the school with a dance performed by the students, were briefed about the High School by the Head Teacher in the Head Teacher’s Office and were later taken on a short tour around the school. During the tour, they were able to see the computers they had donated to the laboratory. The team from Kanzu Code later met with the students, had interactions with them and listened to their testimonies. Peter Kakoma, who was the leader of the team, later did a power point presentation on websites with the students. This was very inspiring, especially for the students to have interests in IT related careers. Time was not our best ally, so Peter hopes to prepare better and come with more material to facilitate a more engaging computer and career guidance session. The short visit was crowned with an interesting dance off that involved everyone laughing merrily and everyone showing off their talent.

At 1pm, we headed to Wells of Hope Junior School where we were welcomed with a beautiful dance from the East. The children were smart in their attire! The team was briefed about the junior school and thanked for their donation towards the printer that has been of such great help ever since it was brought. It was time for lunch, and the team from Kanzu Code helped in serving the children and maintaining the line. It was such a wonderful moment hearing the team reminiscing of their days back in school. They later served the scrumptious Posho and beans. It was great that they enjoyed the meal!

Children at the Junior School being served.
Communications/IT Officer Lucy and members from the Kanzu Code team serving food.

 After lunch, we had a praise and worship session with the children. They presented a poem “rejection” which had our visitors clapping loudly at the end of the presentation.

We later had a tour around all the sections of the school. The team from Kanzu Code was fascinated by the pigs in the farm section because they are big and clean, and they especially loved the one that had given birth the previous day.

Finance Officer Joan with some members of the Kanzu Code team.

We went to the dormitories and later to the class rooms. The members from Kanzu Code had a brief moment at the play field with some of the children and helped push the children in the swings.

A member from Kanzu Code pushing a Junior School pupil in a swing.

Ann, a member from Kanzu Code, said “it such a great work we are doing here at wells of Hope” and said she wished they had more time to engage the children in some games. We later took them to the wall of appreciation where they saw the names of various people that have supported Wells of Hope.

The team from Kanzu Code!

The children prepared a traditional Kiganda dance to crown the day. Some members from Kanzu Code joined in and shared in the light moment! Finally, Peter Kakoma gave a word of encouragement to the children. The team handed over donations that they had brought that included clothes and stationary before we took a group photo.

It was such a wonderful day that included of many light moments shared by both the students and the team from Kanzu Code. They hope to come another time and do more activities with the children because they loved them deeply but were limited because of time.

On behalf of the team at wells of Hope, I thank the team from Kanzu code for coming to spend a day with us. It was truly memorable to have you all around, to see your compassion towards children that have a parent in prison and for your continued support especially regarding the computers to the schools that have made a difference. Indeed, we saw Love in Action that day through each one of you.

We look forward to seeing you again and hopefully be able to play tag with you all!

Written by Joan Ninsiima, Finance/M&E Officer