When a parent is incarcerated, the family suffers a lot, especially the children. Without the protection of their parent they become more vulnerable to issues like poverty, stigma, grief due to separation, child labor, early marriages, among others. In some cases, these children end up on the streets; homeless with no one to care for them and nothing to eat.
From November 25th, Wells of Hope officially launched our Family Based Care program, which is intended to help children to grow up in families. As a way of preparing the WOH Team, a workshop on the Foundations of Family Based Care was held from November 25th to 28th at Namirembe Guest House. The workshop was facilitated by Sebilu Bodja, Catherine Lafler and Adey Dereje all who are friends from Bethany Christian Services Global an International Child Welfare Organization. Among the participants included: pastors and social workers. Among the topics shared included: Child Rights, Child Development, Ethics in Social Work, Assessment and Communication Skills.
During the Child Rights session, the participants shared children’s rights and what stood out most were love and care; “Much as a child’s physical needs are important, their social needs are important as well,” Catherine said. She defined attachment as the emotional connection of a child with their caregiver, which is critical for child development and self-actualization.
During the workshop, Catherine and Adey shared how trauma affects child development; and how it can be solved through healing caregiving, connecting, empowering and correction.
The social workers were also equipped with more skills of how to relate better with their clients with children’s best interests in mind.
Sebilu shared with the pastors/religious leaders the spiritual foundations of family based care and how to care for orphans as a church. He said that churches have a role in placing children in families; “Raising a child starts with the choices we make. The church needs to equip families; and families will be in a better position to raise children,” Sebilu said. He added by urging the participants to develop structures to successfully raise and protect children.
On Saturday 16th November amidst chills of excitement from the children and staff at Wells of Hope Junior School, we welcomed 17 Global Health Corps Alumni Chapter Uganda fellows led by none other than our own son, Bryan Tumusiime, President of the 2019 Alumni fellows, who were joined by two dancers from the IDU Dancers partnering with David Kawaida who initiated and coordinated the inaugurating of the Career and Dance Day at Wells of Hope!!!
Children welcoming their guests played and danced their kiganda dance, “Ekisakyo Omulokozi” led by Angella a P.7 leaver 2019. With clapping and ululations, the team was led to the Headmaster’s office, where the Deputy Headmaster Wells of Hope High School welcomed the guests and handed over to me as the Team leader to lead the next session that included introduction of Wells of Hope staff members and a brief speech.
This was awesome and a fulfilled dream after more than 20 Global Health Fellows still led by Bryan reached out to the children at Wells of Hope in 2014; they had quality time with the children that time, interacted with them, encouraged them about their situation and how with the support of Wells of Hope they were going to make it in life, shared their life experiences with them and during that time I came to realize this year that it was like “a needs assessment” because after 5 years the same group has come back and this time provided exactly what these children needed, celebrating dance and talent, boosting their self-esteem and confidence and helping them focus on the right subjects for their dream career and opening up their minds to what they should expect in the current job market and also encouraged and shared with them how it is important to not only depend on the professional job but love and have passion for nature, farming and creative arts! This was very fulfilling!
The children at Wells of Hope Junior and High School danced along with David Kawaida and the IDU dancers, they later showcased what they had learnt in dancing and here we saw the confidence exhibited not excluding the younger ones!
This was so exciting to look at as these children felt special and loved. They later echoed at the feedback time, “I have learnt that my problems should not stop me from achieving my goal, I have learnt new dancing strokes”, “I have learnt that I should have a side business as I work”, “I have learnt the subjects I need to concentrate on to become a nurse!”, “a lawyer!” exclaimed one, “a business woman!” said another, “I have learnt the importance of being focused”,“I have learnt that I should not be quiet about my problems but I should speak out and get solutions.”
This day will be celebrated every year henceforth. The children will celebrate dance, showcase their moves and feel good and confident about themselves, despite their challenges. Career and Dance day will enable the children learn from successful Ugandans who went through similar hardships as them. They will be encouraged to stay at school and develop a reading culture so that they can understand how the world works, cultures and societies which are different from their own. The day will continue to act as an alternative, yet powerful, mental health treatment alternative to the children. It will be a piecemeal effort to develop young talent, demonstrate alternative career paths, and develop future citizens who reason with facts, are confident and express themselves clearly. Every year this will be a platform for future fundraising campaigns that attracts local and international friends to sponsor a child or two each year they come to dance with them. The day will also create publicity for the great/unique work that Wells of Hope Ministries is doing for the children with incarcerated parents in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
We would like to thank the staff of Wells of Hope and especially the teachers, counselors and support staff who are impacting these children’s lives on a daily basis, and helping them cope with their situation. We would like to appreciate David Kawaida, a Cyber Security Analyst and a dance enthusiast who after interacting with the children in 2014 felt connected with these children’s stories, having been brought up by non-biological parents but has made it in life. He kept thinking about these children and together with Bryan Tumusiime a Public Health Specialist and Story Teller, he was able to bring down different professionals who spared their time on a Saturday! Not to mention baby Kamau who came with her mum! My appreciation also goes to Dennis Ssesanga who donated 3 of his published poetry book “Ivory footprints”, to the children, he said some of the students mentioned how they love poetry; these have been added to the books in the students library, Anna’s library at the High School to improve their poetry; thank you so much Dennis!
Once every year the children will celebrate dance and dance moves as they build their confidence and their minds will be helped to focus on the right paths as they grow and progress in life despite their predicament!
MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU ALL!
Ellen Eva K. Ssuubi – Team Leader – Wells of Hope Ministries