FACTS ABOUT UGANDA
Uganda is located in East Africa. It is bordered by the second largest lake in the world, Lake Victoria, and is home to the headwaters of the Nile River.
AIDS: 4.1% of population (Down from 33% at peak)
Idi AMIN: (1971-79): 300K+ Deaths Issues:
Statistics: CIA (The World Fact book) http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ug.html
In most of the cases we see, the children join Ushindi and they are used to having one meal a day. When they wake up in the mornings the first thing on their agenda is chores. Some even worked as house servants (child labor). Others work in the gardens the whole day and then they come home to their one meal for the day, if they are lucky. We have seen children that never attended school, all the way up to the age of 10. Once the children join the choir they are provided with three meals a day. They are also immediately put into private school to receive the education they deserve. When the children are in school, the school prepares lunch for them. (Most of these children come with a mentality of eating fast. When they spend their whole lives having one meal a day and usually sharing scarce food with a hungry family, they learn that if they eat slow, they don’t eat as much. In a lot of cases we have to talk to them and explain that it is okay to eat slow and enjoy the meals.) Most of the Orphans that come to us have either never been to school and we enroll them in school. Many of the Kids have to learn new hygiene habits when they join the choir. Some of them have never even owned a toothbrush. We go through a process of teaching them to brush their teeth, washing their hands, etc
The children of Uganda that arrive at Ushindi have several different reasons. We have some that are completely abandoned, no adult figure in their lives, and no one that ever follows up on them. Many of these children show up dirty, hungry and they have nowhere to go; we call these, “total orphans”. There are some that have lost both parents but have a distant relative that is also in desperate need and cannot take care of them. Others have lost one parent but in these cases it is just a matter of time before their other birth parent dies because of AIDS. Sometimes the children have both parents but due to financial stress the parents cannot support their children. In other cases some children come because their father deserts the family and in some of these cases the mums have no skills at all to take a job so they cannot help themselves.
The home that we have for them are better than good when in comparison to where the orphans have been living. Most of them lived in mud-built houses or one-roomed house that was over-crowded. Many never owned their own bed, so coming to the home is a huge plus! When we tell children that they have beds now, they always express that they have never owned one before. Many had never owned a mattress or even a blanket. When the kids first come and are handed their belongings, we have to encourage them to leave them in the house. They are not used to having these things and are afraid if they set them down, they will go away. i.e. instead of using the blanket, they clutch it to their chest and hold on tight.
Just like many third world countries Uganda does not have a history of being very big on prevention when it comes to disease. Many times a kid’s first visit to the doctors’ office is when they are very sick. When kids first come to the orphan home, they come with many sicknesses especially sores on their entire body. Many of the diseases are curable and after a while with the great care of our medical teams, they are soon happy and healthy. Every year would like to invite a team of medical doctors to come and check the children and bring medications. It is amazing how healthy the kids get after being at the home for a while. We do medical checkups on them, identify those with diseases and help them right away.
HIV/AIDS continues to be a significant challenge. Since the epidemic began, some 1 million Ugandans have died. There are an estimated 2.3 million orphans, mostly due to the disease. The country’s health indicators are also among the lowest in sub-Saharan African. Preventable diseases - including prenatal and maternal illnesses, malaria and diarrhea — take a major toll. Close to 18 percent of school-aged children are not enrolled in school and the dropout rate averages 66 percent. Food security is also a major concern. Many families do not have enough food to last through the "hungry season" between harvests, and more than one in four children under age 5 is stunted. In the north, the search for peace continues amidst poverty, the lack of protection for children, scant food and dismal humanitarian conditions.