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36 Children With Parents In Prison Graduate With Trade Skills

When the president closed school due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we worked to send back the children to their homes. However, some children remained behind and continued to stay at Wells of Hope Junior School, the residential school for children with imprisoned parents, under the care of Wells of Hope Ministries. The children stayed because of various reasons which include: some have no homes to go back to, some are at risk in their communities and others were rescued from their communities. During the lockdown, most of the children who had gone back home faced a lot of issues; some had been forced into slavery, Wells of Hope as an organisation rescued these children and they are now safe and continuing their studies.

For the period of March when schools were closed up to date, we have continued to care for these children by providing them essential needs  and also we have endeavoured to provide them an all rounded education that has enabled them to continue with their education uninterrupted. Through a program we call COVID Combo Education. This program involves providing the children an all round education which includes the regular lessons as per the government curriculum and vocational hands on skills, whilst we did this we also taught children how to avoid COVID 19 and provided them updates about the pandemic, that’s why we call it COVID Combo Education.

Due to COVID-19 government directives, the teachers couldn’t continue teaching the children directly as it was before, so what we did was to install Television sets in classes and the children continued to having their education uninterrupted. So While at Wells of Hope, the children are able to continue their studies through recorded video lessons compiled by their teachers. We record their teachers on videos from studios in Kampala and then the children are able to be taught through these recorded videos at the Junior School. We also provide them typed notes made by their teachers. The notes are in tutorial form and are made consistent with the recorded videos.

Besides this, we also provide the children with vocational training; the training is provided via Videos and also through instruction by their fellow children who already have the skills and are assisted by resident school Matrons.

We provide the following  Vocational Skills to the children:

  • Cookery/Culinary Skilling; they are teaching them how to make snacks (like chapatis, meat balls and cakes) and casual food.
  • Hair dressing; they are training them how to braid hair (twist, 3 stands), how to plait dreads, crotchet weave and cornrows.
  • Tailoring; they are training them how to sew skirts, dresses and bags (cross-bags, purses and backpacks)
  • Video Editing and Graphics.

On December 2nd, 36 children graduated in above mentioned skills; the children were very excited as they received certificates!

We hope that by having a combination of the regular curriculum lessons and vocational skills will equip children with a hands-on skill or vocational skill so that when they complete their studies, they are able to start up an income generating activity back at home. 

Because these children meet challenges in the communities, even making some of them drop out of school as a result of early marriages or other reasons; we hope that by providing them these skills they are able to continue with their lives by starting business of their own or even finding employment.

Christmas Comes Early For Children With Parents In Prison

Christmas is a time of joy; and love. As most families gather to celebrate this festive season, for most children (over 90%) under our care it is like any other day. Their families are living in very deplorable situations and their caregivers cannot afford to celebrate the season the way most average families do.

With support from friends, Wells of Hope Ministries annually holds a Christmas party for the children before they go back home for the Christmas break. The joy and excitement expressed by the children is unexplainable!

This year’s party was held on December 2nd at Wells of Hope Junior School. Due to COVID-19 outbreak in March, schools in Uganda were closed. However, most children under our care stayed behind because some do not have homes to go to; and others are at risk in their communities. When the children got to know that the party was still on, they leaped with joy! Due to the current situation globally, this came as a surprise to them!

Throughout the day, the children and staff were extremely happy! One could tell by the wide smiles on their faces.

This year’s main Guests were two parents who were recently acquitted! The children were excited when they saw them; and most of all to celebrate Christmas with them! They were extremely grateful to the organization for taking on the responsibility of looking after their families especially their children; and they encouraged the children to continue trusting God for everything they pray for.

Paul and Peter (not real names) expressing gratitude to God for intervening in their court cases

The day was a fully packed one as children made a couple of presentations which included a skit, mimes, dances and singing of Christmas carols, which they had prepared.

In the skit, the children emphasized the importance of Christmas and reminded their friends about God’s love for humankind.

Other major highlights at the party included: the Christmas carols presented by the children; all children receiving a Christmas gift; sharing icecream; playing on the bouncy castle; 36 children graduating with trade skills; and an interactive dance session by the IDU Dancers!

IDU Dancers engaging children in a dance session:

Graduation:

During the party, the children and staff shared a sumptuous meal and a cake!

Ellen Eva Ssuubi, Wells of Hope Executive Director joining the children as they cut their cake

Children with their gifts:

The party was another of a kind; a scientific one given the current circumstances. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and everyone who responded towards the end of year campaign; especially towards the children’s Christmas party which was a success! Thank you all for bringing a smile to children with imprisoned parents especially at such a time!!

Skills Development At Wells Of Hope

Yesterday, a group of beneficiaries under the care of Wells of Hope Ministries, who included: formerly incarcerated women, foster parents and caregivers of children with a parent in prison were equipped with Financial Literacy skills to help them in advancing their economic activities and managing their income.

During the training session, they were reminded of having financial discipline, saving, investment, having the wisdom to manage finances wisely to benefit from the hard work and being positive towards work.

Agnes, one of the formerly incarcerated women shared after the training that she will use the skills to boost her saloon business and make it stronger than it was before.

Residents At The Home

On 19th Nov 2020, we received Atim Agnes and her two children; Liz aged 2.5years and Eid 6months, who was born in prison. The family was picked from the prison gate by the safe home social worker and driven to the safe home where they sought shelter. Prior to her arrest, Agnes owned and run a saloon in the outskirts of Kampala where she resided as well. Having lost her mother, the only relative she knew about in 2015, she resorted to staying alone and upon release she was unsure whether she would be able to find the house in which she was staying as she was initially renting it. While still living at the home, she was able to check out her home which she found no more but was lucky to find that her former neighbour was kind enough to keep her household and saloon items.

If it was not for the Wells of Hope Women Safe Home, I was just going to beg on the street for some money to transport me to kaberamaido to look for a lady who my mother had told me about as being her friend to house me and my children. I don’t even know where she stays but I was going to just ask around” Agnes shared.

Considering that going to Kaberamaido was not the best alternative for Agnes to resettle easily in a community, we aided her get rent money to reignite her saloon business and be able to fend for her children. She happily transitioned from the safe home and is steadily settling in her home.

Equipping Formerly Incarcerated Women for Sustainability

Yesterday, Mary who was then residing at the safe home was officially sent off to her family in Tororo. A few days before then she had made a maiden journey home which was to ascertain the possibility of her resettling in with her family members after four years of being away from them. She shared that she struggled to find her way home as several changes had been made on the way and when she finally found the home, she was welcomed amidst tears. Her family had heard that she was jailed and to them it automatically meant a death sentence. They had given up on her and were surprised to see that she finally came home.

Mary was gifted a sewing machine which was handed over by fellow formerly incarcerated women. They advised her to make good use of it and to avoid any situations that could lead her back to Prison.


Some of the Formerly incarcerated women handing over a sewing machine to Mary shortly before she was discharged from the safe home

The sewing machine would help Mary to make use of the tailoring skills she obtained during her re-entry journey at the Safe Home. She hoped to pursue tailoring to be able to sustain her and her son whom she had left in the village when she was sent to Prison.