Established in February 2013, a.k.a. HOPE is dedicated to assisting a specific group of children in the Naguru slums on the outskirts of Kampala. Mostly orphaned and many displaced as refugees, they have been driven from their homes and largely forgotten by the Ugandan government and foreign aid-workers. These kids have fought to survive civil wars with terrorists, genocide, death, and trafficking, as well as the tough life living on the streets, and even now, the slums in which they reside have been sold to be demolished for high rises. We want to help provide security, meals, education, love, and hope of a better life for them. Here are just a few ways we are working towards accomplishing this:
By targeting and providing a home for the neediest of children
Networking with the adults living in the slums of Naguru, our project manager has found the most vulnerable children – typically those living on the street, those totally orphaned, those ridden with sickness and disease, and/or those defiled and abused – and placed them in our program. This not only provides a house, which protects against the elements, but fosters a spirit of “home”. Here they can sleep in their own beds – a first for most – as well as experience what it is to be a part of a family.
By providing a free education to those that would otherwise be unable to achieve one themselves
As most children we care for have no living relatives, they receive no financial assistance and are usually unable to provide for themselves. As a result, they can not afford to send themselves to school. We are honored to send each of our children to local primary and secondary schools to achieve a proper Ugandan education. This allows them the opportunity to share a classroom with other students in their community that they wouldn’t otherwise be welcome to. And on the weekends, we make sure to allow ample time for reading, music, and play therapy, while developing an environment of freedom and respect where, all in all, the kids can just be kids.
By filling hungry bellies with healthy and guaranteed meals each day
Again, since most children are unable to care for themselves financially, this also means that many go hungry. We help to alleviate the stress of finding food – many times through digging in the trash heap or stealing from local vendors – by providing all three meals each day. This not only keeps them out of trouble and in good health, but also aids in the learning process as growling stomachs can be highly distracting when trying to learn one’s ABC’s.
By providing free healthcare to those with sickness and disease
As one might imagine, living on the streets is tough. As a result, many kids have contracted some very serious sicknesses and diseases. We have a partnership with our local clinic so that any child needing immediate or ongoing healthcare can find it.
A few more plans that are in the works as of now include:
Strengthening the “family” unit by educating the house mamas in health and English literacy
Offering our older children vocational training and business opportunities
Growing and tending our own garden to cut costs and take a step towards self-sufficiency
Inspiring individuals to “pay it forward”, to give back the love and respect they have received
In Swahili, Kushi-riki means “Share.” It’s only fitting that our goal is to support a.k.a. HOPE fully, allowing the organization to focus on what matters most – CHILDREN.
aka HOPE founders Chris and Courtney Skiera-Vaughn