The Gift That Keeps On Giving

As part of a cycle of life, people face various challenges and when forced to flee their homes and countries, the impact of these challenges is greater on refugees and toughest on unaccompanied refugee children. 

There are 2,361 vulnerable children in Nakivale Refugee settlement 308 of whom are unaccompanied having lost their parents.  For these children, foster care arrangements are a great way to strengthen their protection. 

119 adults in the settlement have opened up their hearts and homes to unaccompanied children fostering 308. For these, there is an increased strain on food and household income which are limited given the unfavorable climate affecting crop and animal production and limited livelihood opportunities for refugees. 

In a bid to empower the families to become self-reliant and better protect the children, HIJRA regularly meets with the foster parents to ascertain how they are coping, share experiences, challenges and come up with solutions for the same. From the interactions, HIJRA with the support of UNHCR funding provided the foster parents with 01 maize peeling and 01 maize milling machine which have and continue to boost the group’s income with earnings of 730,000# over the past 06 months to 38 foster families. This created a livelihood to foster parents who operate the machines. 

Charles Mudondo, 36, Congolese who arrived in Uganda in 2013 is the Chairperson of foster parents in Juru who first embraced the project and works as the operator for the machines. He said; 

I managed to take up the responsibility of operating the milling and pilling machines since the beginning of 2018 given the fact that I am among the foster parents with two unaccompanied children and seven biological children. The project has given our lives a meaning since it has created more income generating activities and employment opportunities to some of us. We have managed to meet some of the basic needs of our children such as clothing, scholastics, and school dues among others” 

Through the milling machine project, more projects have been born hence increasing the number of foster parent groups that are benefiting. Charles pointed out the only major challenge faced by the group is an increase in fuel prices that has led to high prices charged hence reducing on the number of customers and income. The benefits of the project though continue to grow and have seen provision of scholastic material (exercise books) to 30 children while on the other hand have given birth to 11 new sister projects reaching 38 foster parents with 56 fostered children. The new projects include; 09 piggery, 01 goat rearing, and 01 poultry project. 

Ndacyayisaba Annociata, 24, Burundian who came to Uganda in 2012 and fosters two children with her own three biological children said; 

“As a result of the milling machine project, I was among the lucky foster parents in Juru Sub- base camp who has benefitted from the piggery project that we established in a group of 05 members. The project has given us an identity as foster parents and has enabled us establish a strong bond since we always meet on a monthly basis to share experiences on family and other development related issues. In addition, I have collected manure from the project that has boosted my banana plantation. I would recommend the establishment of more projects to support other parents” 

HIJRA is continuing engagements with refugees on child rights while encouraging more parents to open their homes to support and protect children who lost their parents in the course of displacements and without homes.

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