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 Joycelyn at 3pm.… More
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
The women safe home has been a hub of activities lately; ranging from admitting new residents, starting up activities for the women at the home, skills development, having counselling sessions and linking them to their families for reintegration among others.
Residents at the home
Two of the residents that joined the safe home in September were able to go back to their families:
Deborah, who spent a year and a half found her 14-year old daughters had been married off by their father and she ably got them out of the marriages, resumed her work and has since settled successfully. She has promised to come back and pay the home a courtesy visit soon and also intends to join the Formerly Incarcerated Women Association.
Eseza, however met with a number of challenges in her reintegration process. She found out a case had been opened against her by the family that had remained with her children accusing her of child neglect in 2017, as they thought she had left prison already and was just hiding away from the children. With the help of the district probation officer who we contacted through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, she was able to see her children who were already put in foster care and being schooled with one Non-Governmental Organisation back in the district.
Eseza has since then been moving from family to family but has not received proper acceptance and says she failed to fit in with her once friends that she was living with since childhood. She lost contact with her family when she was a young child so she has spent all her life living with one friend after the other except for when she was married. Eseza has since returned to the safe home and says she wishes to find a job in Kampala that will earn her a living to save up some money to go start up an economic activity in her village
One other resident, Carol who joined the home solely for shelter as she saves up money to be able to get a house of her own is in plans of moving. She was fortunate to have gotten a job after release and has been saving up money for the primary cause. She is so happy that she was taken in by the safe home as she wouldn’t know what or where she would have gone other than roaming on the streets. She has offered to impart the skills she was able to learn in and out of prison to the fellow formerly incarcerated women to be able to earn themselves a living. She is also very interested in joining the Formerly Incarcerated Women Association.
During the month, we also had two women that we helped to resettle. These were reunited with their families immediately upon release as they were encouraged to forgive and consult their families whom they had sworn not to go back to.
Formerly Incarcerated Women Association.
The association so far constitutes 12 members; they’re committed and loving the work it’s doing for them. Together with Monica, a volunteer, we were visited one of the women that who has benefitted from the association; she was able to start up a fruit stall which she is currently managing with her daughter who is also part of the association.
Through the trade, they are able to get enough money to sustain the children under their care including one four-year-old who was born in prison and brought to them when the mother was finally released as she could not take care of the child herself.
During their monthly meet up, the women learnt how to make liquid soap and many showed interest in taking it on as a source of income.
Plans are underway to sell the soap as the product of the formerly incarcerated women association and the proceeds will go to the association treasury.
In the month of November, we expect three (3) women that will be joining the home from Luzira and Jinja Prisons.
Children need the loving support of their parents; even apparent behind bars. Children want to know they’re not forgotten because they haven’t forgotten their parents. Prison visits are one of the key activities at Wells of Hope; not only are families reunited, but they also enhance family bonding.
We are glad to report that on October 29th, 74 children visited their parents in 6 prisons namely; Upper prison Luzira, Women prison Luzira, Jinja prison, Kitalya prison, Murchison bay and Nakasongola prison. This was the last visit for this year, before the long Christmas break. The excitement shown by the children was inexplicable!!!
Upon arrival at the prisons, the parents were as eager as the children to meet again. The parents and the children happily interacted. The parents expressed their delight as they attentively listened to their children who joyfully shared about what had transpired during the holidays and the school term. Later, the parents shared a lovely meal, which they had prepared with their children.
During the visit, the teachers, who had accompanied the children engaged the parents in a one-on-one parent-teacher meeting where they updated the parents about their children’s academic and social progress. The parents were thrilled to see their children greatly improving in their studies; some carried their children and others exchanged hugs with them. The parents also encouraged their children to treasure their studies, respect their elders and above all, to always seek God for knowledge, wisdom and guidance.
“After my dad was imprisoned, it’s only our uncle who could visit him because my relatives couldn’t afford to transport me and my siblings to visit. But through the annual visits at school, I was reunited with my dad,” testified Joshua 17 years. He joined Wells of Hope in 2010.
Wells of Hope is extremely grateful to Grace Fellowship Duarte for facilitating all the children’s prison visits this year.
We are glad to inform you that through the scouts club, the children’s confidence has greatly improved. On October 19th, the children were taught about personal hygiene. Mr Ssebandeke from Uganda Scouts Association defined personal hygiene as the general cleanliness of the body. He went ahead to examine their finger nails hair, oral hygiene, dressing and oral health. He commended the children for maintaining good personal hygiene. He shared with them that poor hygiene causes diseases like diarrhoea.
When a parent is put behind bars, the family left behind suffers a lot. For inmates sentenced to death, it’s worse because they lose all hope of ever meeting their loved ones. Very often, children are never considered during sentencing. During family visits, it’s very common that children have no idea about their parents in prison; some grow up believing that their parents either passed away in prison or intentionally abandoned them.
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative in partnership with Wells of Hope Ministries conducted the 17th commemoration of the World Day Against the Death Penalty (WDADP) at their office premises.
Francis Ssuubi, Wells of Hope Ministries founder shared about how the death penalty affects children and requested government to intervene.
Children need access to information about their parents incarcerationFrancis Ssuubi, Wells of Hope Ministries Founder
The children shared their plight through art, poems and a very emotional talk show; and they conveyed a special request to the president to abolish the death penalty while kneeling.
We thank Foundation for Human Rights Initiative for their continued support to advocate for the children. We thank all stakeholders who have joined this cause.