Thank you to Joshua for this thorough report of our activities in 2013, and our plans for the year to come!
Mukama webazibwe! Christian love and greetings to each one of you!
What a wonderful year God has blessed us with. It has been a pleasure working with all of you at different levels throughout this year. I am looking forward to working with you again come year 2014, by equipping Uganda’s vulnerable young generation, uplifting the standards of living of our women, and more importantly spreading the love of Christ in our community. This has been a year of growth for us as a project in our areas of child sponsorship, women’s empowerment project, and talent development project,and we thank God for that.
I would like to thank the entire Kids First family for the teamwork and for your time. On many occasions I have run to you for your support and help and at a very short notice. We could not have achieved what we are counting on without you.
Last but not least, I would like to pass on my thanks to all our sponsors, both in New Zealand and Michigan, who have supported Kids First Uganda both materially and by investing your time, for which we are especially grateful, considering your busy schedules. Special thanks to our directors Sarah and Sunny Prabhu, not forgetting our special friends Mary Taylor in Michigan, and Becky Gilbert in Ireland; you have all been a source of wisdom, the brain behind our achievements in Uganda.
May the Almighty God reward each one of you abundantly.
On a sad note, I lost my grandpa, Simon Kato, aged 82, who was a dear friend and a great inspiration to my life. He went to glory after battling with a liver and kidney problem. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
2013 has been a year of restructuring and looking at the direction that we want to take as a project. You may have noticed a change in our name from “Kids First Sponsorship Project” to “Kids First”. As we have grown we have been enabled to do more in our community than just sponsoring children to attend school. Doing this but failing to reach out to the entire family is like washing clothes and putting them in them in dust. So I am happy to report that in our restructuring we have intensified outreach to women, not through giving them hand outs, but through encouraging and empowering them.
We wish every one of you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2014.
Kids First, Director of Operations, Uganda
I thank God for the blessing and growth we have seen in our child sponsorship this year. We increased from 11 to 18 kids sponsored this year. Please note that our first priority for sponsorship goes to the most vulnerable kids, and in most cases in our community these are girls. Therefore six of our new kids are girls and one is a boy.
Below are our new kids:
Through Mary we have started a penpal programme. There are almost seventy kids involved in this programme, which provides a opportunity to learn about other children outside of their culture, and to build a long lasting friendships.
When we asked our girls what their greatest problem was, a common reply was the lack of access to any sanitary items. This keeps them uncomfortable at school, worrying about what they will do if their period starts. We found this also contributes to poor performance in class.
Thanks to Sarah who is spearheading this campaign of getting for our girls the necessities they need. We want to strengthen this programme in 2014. Our plan is to be able to give out sanitary pads three times a year when our girls are starting the school term. We shall greatly appreciate any donation to wards this cause.
Success Story in Child Sponsorship
Some of you following our blog will have come across a story of our sponsored child, Harriet, who has congenital leg deformities. Harriet was staying with her mother who is an alcoholic. Most of her older brothers abuse drugs, and some are on charges of rape. She received little care at home, so by the time she joined the Kids First family she was sickly and not going to school. Harriet has now got a sponsor who has always paid her school fees and also paid for her medication and rehabilitation. However, the challenge has always been where Harriet could stay during school holidays.
I am happy to report that this year one of our Kids First mothers, Sauda, offered to take Harriet into her own home. Wow, what a miracle! Harriet now has a wonderful family and a place she calls home. Her new brothers and sister love her dearly and she can now afford a smile.
The Women’s Group is one of the new programmes that we have put effort in to see grow. Before, as I reported earlier, our main focus was kids although we had the women involved. Now I am happy to report that more has been done this year to also improve on their income and independence. Special thanks to Gertrude, one of our longest serving mothers, who has always provided her home for us to meet and helped in the spiritual nurturing of other women. Also to Agnes who has been co-ordinating the craft project.
I am happy to report that our own Gertrude got married to her husband John. As a leader for most of our women who have been in difficult relationships, there is no greater example that Gertrude could have given than the restoration of her relationship and getting married. This has given hope to most of our mothers that everything is possible. As the leader of Kids First here in Uganda, and on behalf of our directors, Sunny and Sarah, we wish Gertrude and John all the best in their marriage as they keep the vows they took in church.
Also this year we were so very blessed as a project when we got a donation of 200 bibles from our friends from Michigan, thanks to Mary Taylor who helped in coordinating this donation. May God bless you all! As the Bible says, when you know the truth the truth will set you free. We are happy that as a project giving out the book of the truth, through it many people are going to be set free. Mukama yebazibwe!
Through crafts we have been able to uplift the standards of living for our women. We cannot talk about these achievements without thanking our partner in Michigan, Mary, who has worked so hard to find a market for our women’s craft in the USA, and also Agnes, who has been getting the orders, collecting all the crafts needed, and also paying the women after the sales. May God bless you both.
You should note that most of our women are seen as a burden by their husbands because they are been totally dependent on them. This often leads to abuse. With money from craft making they can contribute to the family income, and earn respect from their husbands.
We have had many encouraging testimonies of how craft making has improved the standards of living for our mothers. Most of those involved report that they can now take their children for treatment when they are sick, and can also provide meals for their families.
I am also happy to report that this year we hosted a women called, Kara from Michigan. After seeing our women’s craft in some stores in Michigan, she requested to visit us whilst traveling in Uganda. We had a wonderful time with her and by the end of her visit she bought some craft from our women.
Success story in the Women’s Group
Madrid Nakakande is a 43 year old mother of seven kids and seven grand kids. Madrid is very talented, but before joining Kids First she was looked at as a failure by her educated family, as she failed to complete school was married off at an early age. Her husband is also not educated and does not have a proper job. Because of this they were not able to educate their kids, as her friends and family did. Due to this she hated herself and she always looked down on herself. When Madrid heard about Kids First Women’s Group, all she expected was meeting a group of women who were going to counsel her, but to her surprise this has been more than counselling.
Madrid has learnt a lot since she joined our Women’s Group. Before she thought the only way of making it in life was to have a good education, but through Kids First she can now testify that even using your hands and talent you can make it. She has been taught to make craft and Madrid now has friends that she calls family. She has been able to send one of her grand kids to school using the earnings she makes from craft and she says she loves herself and has hope for a better future.
Kids Talent Development
We have had two projects successfully conducted this year: the weekend soccer programme and the arts programme (in partnership with Art at Heart). Through both projects we have been able to reach out to around 125 kids in Bbunga Area. Great thanks goes to our coach Lameck for his love for children and the hard work he has put in to see our soccer project grow. Thanks also to Andrew of Art and Heart, for always giving up his precious time to meet our kids on a voluntary basis.
This year we have been blessed to partner with the kids of the Leland Comets, who have raised money to support our soccer teams. Through their support we have been able to buy sports shoes, training cones, balls, jerseys, and have been able to enter two tournaments which has been a great experience for our kids. Through soccer we have been able to keep more kids in school off the street and encourage them in their schooling.
Leland Comets SunCity Soccer!
Operation costs 2013
We have spent 10,342,300 Ugandan Shillings (5,152 New Zealand Dollars)
9,973,500 UGX on school fees
268,800 UGX on postal costs
100,000 UGX on internet, transport and telephone costs.
PLANS FOR 2014
Here at Kids First we all have something to say, so this blog will be updated by members of our team as our work progresses to keep all of you in the loop!