Residents At The Home.

During the month of September, the home received 3 residents; 2 from Luzira Women prison and 1 from Kasangati Prison. Before proceeding with orientation for the ladies to become familiar with the safe home, a special prayer is conducted to warmly welcome them at the home. With time when the ladies get familiar with the activities and rules at the home, we conduct a mid-week evaluation meeting with them to know how they are progressing while at the home, how far they have gone with their targets, get to know their highs and lows, and find a way forward on how to address and progress while at the home. The mid-week evaluation meeting helps the staff and the women to know their weakest points and work on them, then progress highly with the pros. Of the three women, two of the women from Kigo prison have since moved back to reunite with their families, one of which has been successful while the other is yet to be settled. One of the ladies having been in jail for nine years found that her children had been handed over to the police station on grounds that she had neglected them and were becoming unbearable for the then caretaker whom she had last communicated with in 2017.

Fortunately, before going back to the community we linked her up with the district probation officer to help her resettle and was helped to identify the foster families that the children were taken to. She has since located her children and still unsure of where she will finally settle.

The other resident who is still at the home has since found a job in the city centre where she was previously working and is still staying at the home a few more weeks as she saves up enough money to afford her rent for her own house.

Reaching Out To Formerly Incarcerated Women

May Yam, a professional photographer and film producer sharing a picture with Shiphrah Nantongo Wells of Hope Women Safe Home Administrator

Home Visitors

September was one of the busiest month with more friends reaching out to the residents at the Safe Home. On September 7th, the Camp David International (CDI) team before they left the country paid a courtesy visit to the home and met with the resident that was there at the time. They encouraged her and prayed for her to face the world positively after incarceration and to know that not everyone is out there to judge her.

We had the interns; Elisa and Eric visit the home and had an orientation about the activities of the home and got to meet the resident at the home on that day.

We had a visit from May Yam, a friend to the home who is a professional photographer and film producer who shared with the team at the home tips on successful filming and how to effectively use the stories of the ladies at the home. She promised to engage some companies back in the United States to get us funding for the story telling venture at the safe home.

Priscilla Ocen and Monica Mocheca visited the home and showed interest in volunteering with the home engaging the ladies and imparting life skills to help them overcome trauma and to participate in prison sensitisation about the home, orientation receiving of the ladies at the home to enable them get the desired services as per the objectives of the safe home.

Shiphrah Nantongo, Wells of Hope Women Safe Home Administrator sharing with Prof Priscilla Ocen about the Safe Home

Wells Of Hope Safe Home Meetings

Board Meeting

The Quarterly board meeting was conducted on September 26th which saw many issues discussed on how to push the home forward and make it a success in regards to its objectives. The members in attendance pledged their availability in case of any concerns that might not wait for the next meeting. They discussed the expenditures for the existing month and also made suggestions about the budget for this month.

My Bundles Of Joy

Babra Namutosi, Wells of Hope Ministries Assistant Programs Coordinator sharing a picture with the Pearls during the Annual Camp (Camp David Uganda). On the right is Florence Nsimire a student (who assisted Babra during camp.

There aren’t many words to express my feeling of gratitude, excitement and gratefulness to the Camp David team-US, we know there is work to do to keep building a future we can all be proud of, and we cannot do it, without people like you. I am inspired each day that Camp David International team have always worked selflessly to impact a child’s life.

 On 23rdAugust, camp was officially opened, with both teams (Camp David and wells of hope team) arriving at the junior school at arriving at 5:30 pm. The team was greatly welcomed to the junior school with a dance performed by the pupils.

The team later met with the children, had praise and worship, Ben (Papa Big heart), who was the leader of the Camp David team, later introduced his team to the rest of the Wells of Hope team (children and staff). This was very exciting especially to the campers who could not wait to have the camp activity sparked off.

The following morning was characterized by excitement; there were 8 teams on ground,(pearls, Lions, Diamonds, Tigers, Panthers, Jades, Rubies and Crystals) and each team had counselors alongside to guide the campers through each day’s activities.

Remembering our first day for camp, my girls (the Pearls comprising the youngest girls)  climbed a set of hurdles; I held onto two young girl’s hands, who fell sick on day one and two. I carried them along to the nurse each morning, afternoon and evening. The rest of the 9 girls followed as they swallowed up in mixed emotions for the two sweet sick ones, and yet the daily activities had to proceed for us. The two however were not ready to let go of the team members! Sickness would never cut them off the team, this was a great team spirit exhibited. I and the girls had each other’s back to the very end of the camp.

Being my first time for camp, though I was excited to meet the little girls (pearls),it was however a mixed emotion of nervousness and excitement  because I dint know what, where, and how best I was supposed to handle the girls, at times I found it difficult to get to their best level of understanding. A team of 11 girls with different traits and personalities; friendly, shy, independent, caring, kind, stubborn all were different in their own ways but interesting at the same time. All these differences spiced up the kind of people I needed in a group. To me, my girls were best in everything, be it in their worst or best moments. I just had fun with them; laughing through each experience. We enjoyed each other’s presence, we took naps together, shared stories, talked about our fears, played together, cried together in moments of loss to the to the lions (the team with the youngest boys) , shared meals, talked about what makes us angry and how best we could help each other, shared our sorrow but later  worked as team to  finally beat the lions!

The camp activities helped to enhance positive impact in terms of building children’s confidence, self-esteem, team building, promoting creativity and above all feeling appreciated and loved as children. This was done through collective activities like celebration of the children’s birthdays.  Both the children and the councilors/coaches and support staff were able to engage and interact with one another freely and happily without boundaries. Through camps as these, the children receive the benefits of spending time with different people, while the counselors feel responsible to create and sustain a secure attachment to children like never before. The support staff as led by Jackie Nakinda, Wells of Hope Ministries Admin Assistant, played a great role in welfare. All meals were well prepared and served on time throughout the camp. Time management was a great deal, the time keeper (Marjorie Lunkunse, Wells of Hope Ministries Deputy Executive Director; who was the Camp Director) was on point, as the bell was rung in time for change of activities. The media team (Lexi, Daniel; Mary and Rebecca, students from Wells of Hope High School)  were seen running breathlessly giving their best to capture the moments through videos and pictures. They worked tirelessly to put all videos and photos together for a great moment to each camper.

Lexie (L) and Marjorie sharing a picture with the Pearls wearing face paint

With so much fun being experienced during the camp, my girls would continuously ask, “aunty Babra, are we going to have camp tomorrow as well?” This was a question asked as a result of enjoyment; the girls (pearls) asked it more often because they desired that camp continues. Aunty Kacie and Mama Rose (Grace Smith) were at the heart of the pearls. On several occasions, the girls kept asking me to take them see aunty Kacie and Mama Rose; Little did I know. I humbled myself to go by my girls’ request; I was overwhelmed by what I saw; “Thank you aunty Kacie for the sweets,” they said repeatedly on meeting aunty Kacie. On seeing Mama Rose, the children happily greeted her; while a few shyly stepped back speechlessly watching her beautiful smile as she interacted with them. When asked which team they were, they all replied in unison, “we are the pearls, adding, ever the best!”; this always made me feel so proud of my girls.

 The pearls never let me down at any moment. My girls’ energy kept me going each day and night; even when it would seem so hard, they gave me the reason to try harder, picking me up from my bed each morning, giving me a push to the toilet, singing songs, telling me stories and asking me to dance for them.

There is a lot to talk about my sweet pearls, being my first camp that there was in my life, this I render the best thing that ever happened to me this year (2019)! Receiving the compassion award and having the pearls attain the best position of the little group, for me it was a great achievement 2019. I was thrilled by the fact that I could get to understand these children best as individuals, bond with them, share bed time stories with them; this was an opportunity for me to receive love from the little ones and be able to give back to my girls. These are among my best memories!

I refer to these girls as ‘my little bundles of joy’ I could never exchange the pearls for anything in this world! The relationship I had with my pearls was worthwhile.

To the Camp David team, your tireless effort to Wells of Hope Ministries is a great blessing to the children. This would not be possible without you friends; thanks to Camp David of the Ozarks for your generosity extended to create positive impact in the life of a child with a parent in prison in Uganda.

Written by: Babra Namutosi, Wells of Hope Ministries Asst Programs Coordinator

A Warm Welcome

On 13th September, a welcome home party for the residents was held at the Women Safe Home. It was such an exciting day that showered them with love. In attendance were the formerly incarcerated women who congratulated them upon being released and gave them a brief of how to resettle easily back in their communities, Friends of the home, and volunteers at the safe home. The residents applauded the Safe Home for taking them in and for encouraging them while still in prison as they had not figured out how they would easily encounter life outside prison. They were happy for the love shown to them and prayed for blessings upon each and everyone involved in this work and specifically Susan Burton for thinking about them and caring for their well-being.

They shared various stories of their lives, ranging from their growing up, how they lived their lives before arrest, matters that led to their arrest, prison life, and their experience of living at the safe home. It was a fun moment for each and every one. They cut cake and shared picture moments with everyone.

From the stories told, the ladies embraced story telling as a way of relieving stress and easily forgetting the past instances to embrace the new life ahead. They were interviewed one at a time about their life experiences especially about their life in prison and living at the safe home. We anticipate doing it as an ongoing activity at the home.

The residents also had a dinner at one of the top restaurants in town; Café Javas sponsored by Mama Joann Dolan Martin one of our friends. This was also a welcome party for a resident that missed out on the general welcome party; who was welcomed with a cake and a congratulatory song by the restaurant staff for the troubles she had been managed to encounter during her one and a half years’ stay in prison. She shed tears of joy and later shared that she had been treated as a queen. The residents were delighted and concluded that they had never been to such a place or even tasted such food and had no dreams of ever eating that food. They applauded Wells of Hope for loving them so much considering that they had been out of prison and expected to be stigmatised which was not the case when they reached out to the safe home. One of them said that even her own family could not treat her with a portion of the love she felt she was receiving at the time.