The Long Awaited Day!

My internship is soon closing in and the event that I have been longing for the whole internship was coming up, and that was the Christmas party. I had, together with Eric, reached out to friends and family in Sweden for a contribution for the Christmas party because we really wanted it to happen, but the budget was tight for Wells of Hope. We were surprised by the amount of love and support that we received, and we were able to start planning for buying all the children Christmas presents. And to wrap over a hundred gifts really gets you in that Christmas spirit. It was nice to see all the children individually get a Christmas gift, I was overwhelmed with a lot of  joy!

The Christmas party took place at our junior school on Saturday but Sharon, Aidah, Eric, Joslyn and I set of for our highschool at Friday afternoon for some quality time with the older children. When we arrived, the children had already made a plan about the night and what they wanted to do. It included a quiz, poems and dancing. Henry did, as usual, an amazing job as commentator and organized the evening. He has impressed me over and over again by his radiance when talking in front of people. We danced a lot and I wish you all could see when they made the staff have a dance battle. Me and Eric went in for it and Eric throwed popcorn to the children like a true Rockstar. My cheeks were hurting after all the laughter that night when we set off for junior school.

On Saturday we started off the day with getting the Christmas tree set up. The children decorated the tree and got glitter all over themselves. It was the first time I saw someone decorating a Christmas tree with balloons and it turned out amazing! I enjoyed seeing the children helping out with all the decorations before the actual Christmas party started. They are so responsible and engaged in everything they do. Some highlights from the Christmas party was when Father Christmas who danced around and throwing candy to the children. They got so excited that it turned in to a smaller chaos of them trying to get the candy. Another thing that made me smile was when the graduates from top class came out with their graduation clothes and they all looked so proud. They had prepared a dance for us and that was the cutest thing I have ever seen! That we celebrate their achievements in this way feels like a key thing and gives the children happy memories from an important milestone in their life.

The Christmas party was a fun day. At mine and Eric’s first day at Wells of Hope we attended the two last days of the Camp David Uganda and that ended with a bonfire at the junior school. This Christmas party was the last time we were going to see the children during our internship, so it felt like a good idea to arrange a bonfire as the final activity. We bought some snacks for the children and arranged so they could listen to some music. Prisca 6 years crawled up in my lap and fell asleep right away, exhausted from all the celebration. And she stayed there until I carried her through the chilly weather to the girl’s dormitory. Before all the girls went to sleep, Rose, the counselor at the school put on music and we all danced together. The girls giggled at my dancing skills but someday I will impress them.

The High School students went home right before the bonfire, and I waved them off. The highlight with them was the Friday activity. Seeing them dance like crazy, laugh and play together truly made me happy. I have a video clip on them dancing and when I watch it, I always start laughing. The last day with the children at the Junior School was Sunday and after the Sunday school service, I spent the rest of the time playing with the kids. One girl that caught my attention at the beginning of this internship was Blessing and we spent the Sunday together.

We played around with the balloons and then Prisca, Blessing and me just sat and watched Eric teach Bernard to play chess.

As you have read, I had a wonderful weekend and it’s hard to put into words. I thank Wells of Hope Ministries for their great work. Seeing the children at school, during counseling and in activities like these; they are always well behaved, kind and taking care of each other. That is a true testimony of the great work Wells of Hope does.

Compiled by Elise Schnaufer

Intern at Wells of Hope Ministries

A Christmas Weekend With Children With Incarcerated Parents

Well, lets start with saying that this was my best weekend in Uganda so far. Our weekend began at the head office where me and Elise met up with Aidah, Sharon and Joseline at 3pm. This was the team that was going to spend the weekend with the children. We traveled to the high school first where we were going to have activities with them. We bought popcorn on the way to the school to have some snacks for the students to enjoy.

The students had prepared a program for us to do together and we had prepared a small quiz for them to do. The program they had planned included dance battles, riddles, dance performances and much more. So even though they night didn’t start as we thought it would, it ended great and I was so happy that night when we went to bed for the time I had got together with the high schools students before they leave for holidays and we leave for Sweden.

We slept at the Junior School and I woke up early and started my morning by following the children to fetch water at the borehole. It’s a 10 min walk from the school; this gave me energy and quality time with the children; and this gave me the opportunity to see what they have to do to get water if the there was no rain for quite a while. But for them it was like nothing, just something that needed to be done, no complaining at all. Just do what you got to do.

After that we had porridge for breakfast which I have been starting to like in some weird way. But the day’s main focus was the Christmas party, finally it was here. So, the rest of the day we helped prepare decorations, blow balloons with the kids, watch the presentations in the church, hand out Christmas gifts and just mingle with everyone we could talk to.

The Christmas party was successful in the way that we even had it. The day ended with the interns saying goodbye to the high school students, which was sad for me. It felt like we were getting closer to them now towards the end. But with plans of coming back I am not that worried. We will meet again. When the high school students left, we had a bonfire with the pupils at the Junior School. We gave them some snacks and just had some music, dancing and a good time before we went to bed.

The Sunday was dedicated from my part to playing with the kids. I was a part of the Sunday service but that was only for a short while. Most of the day I played games with the young kids and I tried to teach Benard, one of the students to play the game of chess. This was fun and I had bought a chessboard that I left at the junior school for them to practice so they can beat me when I visit next time.

All in all, as I said in the beginning, this was the best weekend here in Uganda. I am very happy for my school back home that gave me the opportunity to come to Uganda for my internship and I am also happy for and grateful to Wells of Hope, all staff members at head office, they have been so kind and helpful to us. The staff at the schools, always welcoming when we have come for counselling and all the other activities, and last but not least the children. During this time here I have received so much joy from them; they have been attentive in the counselling sessions and it really felt like they have enjoyed our time here. Soon we are going back to cold rainy Sweden and that will be so sad. I will miss everyone at Wells of Hope. But I will come back to visit, that’s for sure. Because this time here is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thank you.

Complied by Eric Jansson, intern at Wells of Hope.  

A Chilly But Warm Christmas Day

In the movies Christmas has always been known and seen to be cold and snowy and often times I say to myself “I need a snow experience” to know how it actually feels to have cold, snowy but at the same time warm Christmas.

On Saturday 30th November 2019 I got a close to that experience at Wells of Hope Junior School. Everything was as planned, the tents were up in the compound with the team and children blowing balloons; the church well decorated, the Christmas tree shinning beautifully in one corner, nice music playing and obviously the pans turning in the kitchen, the mood was that of excitement and great expectation and then the downpour started; our photo booth unfortunately could not stand the strong winds; the bouncing castle came down, some balloons burst and the school premises were very wet and it became very cold.

Despite this, the main hall was warm; this did not stop children from enjoying the day.

We had the Christmas production going on led by Pastor Mark which included a lot of things like Christmas carols, a skit by the children that talked about the real meaning of Christmas. We sang and worshiped as we remembered Christ’s birth.

Dances and presentations started thereafter; this made us even warmer and it was at this point that Father Christmas (Santa) walked in with sweets and snacks which he shared with the children; the children’s faces were beaming with smiles.

Our lovely meal was served along with the children’s favorites; sodas, pineapples and watermelons. The children’s aunties and uncles from Kanzu Code joyfully washed the serving and did the plates.

This time around, 9 children graduated from kindergarten to primary. The graduands were happily cheered as they made their way to where their friends were.

Soon it was time to cut cake. The children really love cake; I could see smiles and anticipation as they could not wait to pick a piece.

One of my main highlights was the wide smiles on the children’s faces every child received a gift; this warmed my heart. I saw Angel looking at her dress admirably and I knew that the purchasing and wrapping team (which I was a part of) performed a great task; it was not in vain.

Eric Jansson and Elise handing over gifts to children

This year’s party was cold and yet a warm Christmas!

Jacqueline (C) sharing a picture with Sharon (L) and Mary (R), a student

We thank God for providing for the party through our friends and partners; God bless you abundantly.

Written By:

Jacqueline Nakinda

Finance/ Admin Assistant

A Loving Family For Every Child

Catherine Lafler (extreme right) and Adey Dereje (3rd right) sharing a photo with social workers on November 25th

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.

Sebilu Bodja (5th left) and Francis Ssuubi (7th left) sharing a photo with the religious leaders on November 25th

CAREER AND DANCE DAY INAUGURATED

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!

Bryan Tumusiime and David Kawaida facilitating about Agribusiness and Creative Arts

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!

David Kawaida leading a dance session

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