Enhancing Children’s Rights In Humanitarian Intervention

Forty-three years ago, on 16th June 1976, ten thousand black South African students took to the streets, marching as a symbol of protest because of the poor quality of their education.Two years before, in 1974, The South African Minister of Bantu Education and Development issued the Afrikaans Medium Decree, requiring all black schools to integrate Afrikaans into its curriculum while allowing white schools to continue teaching in English – the main language. These sentiments were widely resented among black populations, as it forced the students to focus on learning the language instead of engaging with the material taught being taught in schools. With the apartheid serving as the situational and historical background of this decree, black South African students rallied together.

The Day of the African Child emerged from this moment in history. Starting in 1991, the Organization of African Unity declared 16th June a day of commemoration and remembrance for those who marched. This is not the only purpose of the day, as the Day of the African Child also serves as an opportunity to raise awareness of the need to improve children’s education across the continent of Africa. This year, the theme has been declared as “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.”According to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), a humanitarian crisis can result from either natural or man-made factors. Consequently, these crises violate and overlook children’s rights. This year’s theme recognizes that children in Africa face a greater majority of these humanitarian crises, calling on a system that already disenfranchises and often overlooks children’s rights.

Wells of Hope Ministries (WOHM)upholds this purpose, as the Non-Government Organisation provides support and education to children with incarcerated parents. WOHM identifies with this vulnerable population, recognizing the unique challenges impacting these children. Oftentimes, in over ninety percent of cases, the breadwinner of a family must face the consequences of incarceration, leaving these children traumatized by the separation, faced with community stigma, poor conditions and struggling to meet their basic needs. The situations created for these children are another form of humanitarian crisis, leaving the children exposed to forced labor, early marriages, forced recruitment, human trafficking, sexual violations and they are predisposed to the same predicament as their parents.

A student at Wells of Hope High School describes her experiences, “after my father was imprisoned, villagers … stole our family property, animals and destroyed businesses my Dad had in the trading centre. They even looked for us (his children)… so that they could kill us too… the whole family was on the run.” This experience does not exist in a vacuum – all 158 children at Wells of Hope have their own stories of pain, love, and hardship.Wells of Hope, however, provides these children with a new future – a future characterized by resilience, forgiveness, and faith. The organization’s primary mission is to support these children and remind them of their individuality, as their parents, and not them as children, committed any of these crimes, and therefore, do not deserve to be punished for them.Even as the needs of the organization continue to multiply, Wells Of Hope Ministries (WOHM) does not lose sight of its founding, forever committed to placing children’s rights first, ensuring that some of the country’s most vulnerable population have access to their rights.

On this Day of the African Child, Wells of Hope continues to stand in solidarity with the work being pursued and completed by those around them. Wells of Hope pledges to continue this work and appreciates all efforts from everyone, including, but not limited to, friends, sponsors, volunteers, donors, for their continued support in providing a better future to children with incarcerated parents.

Helping Students Cope With Parental Imprisonment:

Very often, children suffer difficulty or distress due to various reasons. Children with incarcerated parents face trauma which in most cases results in nightmares/ sleeping problems. Through counseling, the children at Wells of Hope are able to cope with having a parent in prison.

On 11th June 2019, Babra Namutosi Wells of Hope Assistant Programs Coordinator conducted a session with the students at Wells of Hope High School. She was accompanied by 3 interns; Anooshka Gupta from the University of Michigan USA, Charley Campbell from Carleton University, Ottawa Canada and Esther Birungi from Kyambogo University Uganda.

The goal of the counseling session was to teach the students about resilience. In future weeks, the counseling sessions would build upon resilience, touching on topics such as career guidance, abstinence, sexuality, and true love waits.

The session began with the students viewing a clip from the movie, Facing the Giants. The students observed the “Death Crawl Scene” in which a football player wears a blindfold and crawls across the football field while carrying another man on his back. Following the clip, Charley engaged the students; and they (the students) shared what they picked from the clips. Esther and Anooshka later shared with the students about the day’s topic. The students shared how they understood the term resilience; they responded with terms such as perseverance and determination. Esther defined resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” Additionally, Esther shared with the students of her own experiences with resilience.

Barbara practically demonstrated resilience to the students; she asked for a volunteer to try to take a chair away from her. Once the student succeeded, Barbara prompted the students to reflect on the activity and continue speaking about resilience.

The students shared that they had learnt to never give up on anything in life.

Hope To Formerly Incarcerated Women

Francis Ssuubi, Wells of Hope founder and Shiphrah Nantogo, the program administrator met some of the formerly incarcerated women who had the chance to see the home for the first time and also appreciate the work that they had started. They agreed that there was a need to bring together many other formerly incarcerated women to the cause and promised to contact them for the next meeting. We were blessed with a visit from Troy Williams on recommendation from Susan Burton back in USA. He was amazed at the work that was being done at the home. Among other visitors were NTV Uganda, Rotary Club of Wandegeya and Sowing A Seed for Tumaini who donated some items to the home for the ladies to use such as clothes, shoes, and bags.

Shiphrah Nantongo of Wells of Hope Women Safe Home receiving items from Anitah Kiddu Muhanguzi of Rotary Club of Wandegeya

95 Inmates Give Their Lives To Christ

At Wells of Hope, inmates are at the heart of all the work we do. Through interventions like Prison evangelism, their hope is restored; they come to believe that prison is not their final destiny but a transition. Through evangelism, we reach out to the inmates with the word of God and fellowship together. One of the ways we conduct evangelism is through Easter In Prison, an annual event which is conducted by 104.1 Power FM in partnership with Wells of Hope Ministries.

This year around, the event was held on 13th April 2019 and it was held at Murchison Bay prison, Luzira. A team of 12 from 104.1 Power FM were accompanied by Marjorie Lunkuse, Wells of Hope Deputy Executive Director and Lucy Namakula, Wells of Hope Assistant Communications Officer. The team was warmly welcomed by the prison staff and the inmates.

Despite the cloudy weather, the inmates and the visitors were overjoyed during the event. The event was commenced by a heartwarming praise and worship session; the visitors and the inmates expressed their excitement through wide smiles and loud applause.

Marjorie Lunkuse sharing her first experience when she visited inmates. Oh her right is Henry Katongole,
104.1 Power FM’s Sales and Marketing Head

Ronald Tumwesigye, one of the visitors shared his testimony; he encouraged the inmates by saying that the fact that God turned his life around for the better, He would do the same for them. “God has a plan foreveryone here,” he said.

The Officer in Charge of Murchison Bay prison thanked 104.1 Power FM and Wells of Hope Ministries for extending love to the inmates by celebrating the festive season with them. He encouraged everyone to utilize the lent season and commune more with God.

Henry Katongole, 104.1 Power FM’s Sales and Marketing Head encouraged the inmates to embrace a transformed life through Christ. He encouraged those who were wrongly accused to forgive those who wronged them; and those who were rightly put in prison, to use their time in prison to allow God to transform them for the better. Henry encouraged the inmates to embrace Christ’s love and quoted 1John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” In his own words, Henry said, “If God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us, then what won’t he do for us when we ask him?”

The main highlight of the day was that 95 inmates gave their lives to Christ!

During the event, the inmates shared a delicious cake which was donated by 104.1 Power FM.

104.1 Power FM also donated items among which included: football jerseys, footballs, a trophy, jerrycans, buckets, soap, soda, food, among others.

104.1 Team and Marjorie Lunkuse sharing a photo with the items donated to the inmates by the radio station listeners

We thank 104.1 Power FM for their continued support to the inmates.