The pandemic has presented unprecedented changes; and though we cannot have face-to-face lessons with the children of imprisoned parents under our care, we are glad that the children are able to continue their studies through videos, educational material and newspapers. Our sincere gratitude to everyone who’s supporting us!
We’re extremely happy that the teachers have received 3 computers to help them compile educational material for the children at home and the children at Wells of Hope Junior School, with no homes to go back to because they either have no homes to go back to or are at risk in their communities.
COVID-19 has affected the dreadfully. When the pandemic broke out in Uganda (March 2020), the families of the children with parents in prison went into panic; they expressed a lot of worry especially those living with HIV.
Annually, the organization conducts workshops where the caregivers meet, share ideas and are encouraged to cope with having a loved one in prison. This time around, the workshop was aimed at helping the caregivers cope with living with HIV; HIV Prevention and Care; reminding them about the COVID-19 safety measures and coping during the current situation. 14 caregivers actively participated in the workshop; it was held on September 2nd with the theme HIV And COVID-19:Keeping Safe And Productive In The New Normal. While maintaining the COVID-19 Standards of Operation Procedures, the organization plans to hold more sessions for the other caregivers of the children as well.
The topics facilitated about included: Keeping Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic; Parenting and VSLA (Village Saving and Loan Association) Training.
Ellen Eva Ssuubi, Wells of Hope’s Executive Director appreciated the caregivers for turning up for the meeting and their continued cooperation. She urged the caregivers to continue practicing the safety measures.
The caregivers shared how they are coping during the current situation, their lessons, challenges and concerns. This was mainly done in groups and was facilitated by Marjorie Lunkuse Lwanga, Wells of Hope’s Deputy Executive Director.
During the group session, the caregivers shared how they’re coping during this time of COVID-19. Some of the challenges they shared included: loss of jobs yet they have to meet their families’ needs and some can no longer pay rent.
They also shared that they can no longer access their loved ones in prisons because prisons are closed to any visitors. The caregivers shared that due to the increase in transport fares (public means now carry half the number of passengers they used to carry before COVID), it’s difficult for them to reach health centres or hospitals (especially the caregivers adhering to Anti-Retroviral Treatment). However, they learnt to save, maintain hygiene and to spend more time with their children. Marjorie encouraged caregivers to take care of their children and also teaching them about God.
During the Parenting session, Agnes Nanungi Namubiru, a Social Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker from Alliance In Motion encouraged the caregivers to Believe in themselves, to work and to take care of their children. “Find what you can do. Add value to yourself. No one is going to force you to work; find your inner value and passion and do something,” Agnes said. “As long as you’re alive, you can do something. God designed us for something we want to be. All we have to do is believe,” she added.
She encouraged the caregivers to befriend people who add value. She urged them not to make children suffer because of what their spouses did.
During Financial Literacy, the caregivers were educated about Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA), Selection, Planning and Management (S.P.M,) Finance literacy and bank linkages.
The caregivers were taught that for a business to run, they need to consider five modules which included:
What’s required to start the business
Ability to operate the business
Whether people will like the business
Whether people will like the things being sold or not.
The caregivers were cautioned to differentiate between a Need and a Want. They were encouraged to always use banks in case there is insecurity of where they keep their money, if saving boxes are not safe for them and also if there is no trust among themselves.
During the HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) session, Sandra Kigozi from Aids Information Centre (AIC), shared ways how HIV is spread and these included:
When mothers are giving birth.
Kissing someone with a bleeding gum.
She encouraged the caregivers to Abstain or Be faithful to their partners and to use Condoms whenever engaging in sexual activities. She demonstrated how to use self-test kit to test for HIV.
She said that the kit was developed to ease the testing process; some people are not able to go to medical centres for tests due to a couple of reasons like their busy work schedules. She said that in such scenarios, anyone can do a self-test and follow up with AIC or any medical centre for advice.
During the workshop, the caregivers expressed their gratitude towards all Wells of Hope’s sponsors for the support rendered to them by continuing to avail educational material to their children even when schools are still closed. They were extremely grateful for the supplies they received especially when COVID had just broken out.
Below were some of the highlights:
Mary, a formerly incarcerated mother said, “Wells of Hope is not only supporting children, but is also supporting women who are from prison by taking care of them, rehabilitate them and also connect them to their families. I don’t know how I can ever give to this organization to express my sincere gratitude for filling the gap of taking care of my children when I was in prison; May God bless you all abundantly!”
Sharon shared how grateful she was to the organization for getting her daughter Gladys work at the organization to make her busy as she waits for Universities to re-open.
Suzan was extremely grateful to Wells of Hope for offering supporting and giving advice to children who completed secondary (high school) as they applied for higher education at university level. Suzan’s son is among the students who completed secondary (senior six) in 2019; and he’s looking forward to pursuing a career in Economics.
Mukasa frank, said that Wells of Hope has provided them with various trainings like parenting and VSLA and other workshops meeting about HIV/AIDs and COVID 19 pandemic, and they got to know their health status after testing for HIV/AIDs.
The caregivers are more hopeful that they will make it through the current situation; they shared that with the knowledge (healthy and financial) they’ve gained, they will be able to keep applying the COVID-19 safety measures in their homes, adhere to ART (Anti-Retroviral Treatment) and manage their finances better.
They expressed their fears and some of these included: whether children will go back to school, where they will stay because they can no longer afford money for; rent, food and household needs.
The Executive Director thanked the caregivers for [participating in the workshop and she cautioned the caregivers to adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines about COVID 19 as they continue praying to God for safety.
The caregivers were extremely happy after receiving clothes from Unilever Uganda. “I never expected anything like this especially during this time! I left home empty-handed and I am going back with something for my children!” a mother exclaimed.
We thank all our sponsors for their continued support!
This month, we welcomed Prossy at the safe Home. A few days prior to her release, Prossy approached the Luzira Women welfare officer and expressed her desire to join the Wells of Hope Women Safe home for a short stay as she traced for her children that she left behind when she was incarcerated a year ago, and her property.
Prossy joined the home and we aided her to find her children whom she found in perfect condition, one with her friend and the other with her paternal grandparents. Prossy was able to communicate with her family members and friends and was supported with transport and start-up capital to travel back to Kalangala to start up a fish vending trade.
Before she left the home, Prossy was so grateful for the safe home as she was able to prepare her mind before she could join the community. When she had just been released, she was so angry at her family for having let her go through incarceration and was unwilling forgive them. However, with time she changed the perception and was not as bitter as she was before. She referred to the Home “as ‘Kwagala” meaning “Love” because she was happy about the fact that there was someone out there that was welcoming and restoring hope to people that have been released from Prison.
Today, Shiphrah, Wells of Hope Women Safe Home Administrator and Gloria, Wells of Hope’s Assistant Programs Officer made a follow up home visit to our former resident, Rhita who recently reunited with her husband last month. Rhita and Bahati reunited with Bahati’s father who invited them to stay with him as they prepare themselves to reunite with their other children. The couple was preparing their lunch and were delighted by the visit.
They had since visited the hospital as per our advice to continue receiving care and were planning on getting a job for Bahati as Rhita was concentrating on plaiting and styling people’s hair to raise money to sustain them and their four months old baby. We’re glad that the couple is living happily.