Term 1 2016
This term our kids just have a short holiday as they have a lot of school work to catch up on, as they had to start Term 1 late due to the political unrest. Because of this we have not put in place a specific holiday programme, other than writing letters to sponsors and pen pals. Many of our kids in secondary school did not come back for the holidays as they are in candidate class, so they chose to stay back to study for exams.
As a heads up to our amazing sponsors, we have been getting requests from schools to increase the fees we pay. At this stage we are negotiating with them as it would be good to keep things at the rate they are, and to keep our kids in the same school all year, especially those in their last year of school. We will keep you all posted. Kids will be back at school on June 6th!
Christmas Holidays 2015/2016
This was a tricky time for us at Kids First, as there was some disturbance with the lead up to the Ugandan elections. Since then, internet access has been tricky, so it has taken a while for us to get some pictures of what our kids were able to get up to over the Christmas holidays.
Most parents sent their kids to the villages to get them of the city and keep them safe. However, despite reduced numbers we did manage to have some meetings with our kids and were able to talk to our girls about safety, give out pads and underwear, and thanks to another generous donation, able to give out more Bibles!
Allow me update you all on Harriet's progress with her treatment. In the December holiday of 2015 after getting our registration certificate, we embarked on the journey of taking Harriet through an aggressive therapy programme. We had tried out local therapy doctors but they were not meeting the treatment standards we expected. Thank God Harriet was admitted for a one month treatment at Katalemwa Cheshire Home. During the one month treatment we realized a tremendous change in Harriet's legs: she could scoot properly, something that she could not do before. She also stopped urinating on herself because she could now separate her thighs.
After a month Harriet was released from the hospital but we were advised that she needed surgery to be able to walk properly. This was a bit scary for our little girl. We were comforted by doctors that it was not a life threatening procedure. We linked the therapy doctors and the HIV clinic doctors who gave a go forward for the procedure to be done. On 23/2/2016 Harriet was readmitted and had an 'Adductor Release then Broomstick Cast'. '
Three days later Harriet was released and she is now back at school. Ggaba Model School has been a huge blessing during this time, allocating a staff member, Patricia, to help look after Harriet and they have given Harriet a special bed where she is able to do her school work.
Harriet will have the cast on for two months and then will be reassessed.
I am happy to let you know that Harriet is happy and has hope that she will get better. Lets continue praying for her. Special thanks to Harriet's sponsor who is paying for the treatment and to Mary who is co-ordinating sending the funds.
Mukama abawe omukisa,
A few weeks ago I meet a friend of mine who asked about Kids First. We ended our conversation with him asking if Kids First was growing. I replied, 'Yes we are growing,' Then he asked a question actually I expected him to ask: 'Why are you saying you are growing and yet you even do not have an office were one can locate you?'
This was my reply: so many community based-organisations miss out on the point of growth. They determine their growth by how beautiful their offices are or how many people come to their facilities to ask for help or how many huge cars they have that help them travel so comfortably in poor communities. You should get me right on this - I am not implying that having a good office is bad or nice cars are bad, but I think everyone would determine growth by how a project has been able to transform lives: can the people they serve visit their office asking on how they can make their businesses even better or they are visiting to ask money to put food on their tables?
I am happy to note that as a project we are growing: this year we are going to have two of our sponsored children sit their final exams in secondary school and next year they will be joining university. God knows if they will become teachers or lawyers or even bankers. Christine and Pauline were just kids when they got onto the program, so if we have been able to mentor them to this point this is growth. Not only mentoring them but helping their parents have a relatively stable income through craft-making and microfinance - something that enables them to take care of their essential needs, helping these girls not to turn to men to get what they want.
These two young girls have grown into responsible citizens. Pauline has been the head girl in their school last year. Both her and Christine are so instrumental in teaching other young girls things like how to use sanitary products, but also how to write letters to their sponsors.
Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you all for being part of a growing body that with little resources it is doing whatever it can to transform life.
Yes, we are growing.
First up we have some really exciting news! Earlier this month we received a certificate of registration in Uganda, making us a registered NGO in Uganda! We are so excited as this has been a long road with so many people involved working toward this goal. Thanks to you all, and many many prayers, we have made it! This is great not only to make Kids First 'official' in Uganda, but to provide protection for the children and adults involved in Kids First. It makes meeting together in large groups safe, and allows us to provide more care for the vulnerable kids involved, as shown below in Joshua's letter...
It has been a while since I last gave an update about Harriet. I will share some information about her now.
It is a huge blessing being part of Harriet's life and seeing where God has brought her and the wonderful life He is giving her. Taking care of Harriet has not been easy, especially when we have not been registered as it has been illegal for us to make some decisions about her health or even provide some care while we are not registered. To make matters worse it is very hard to get her mother's approval for some decisions that needs a parents consent (as she is not easy to find or contact). Our registration and recognition by the Ugandan government has come like a Christmas gift to Harriet as we can now make some decisions about her care because we are protected by law.
Some time back in our first year of helping Harriet, I had taken Harriet to one of the best rehabilitation and nursing homes in Uganda for therapy and treatment. However, they denied us services because we were not registered and I was not Harriet's parent. I was so disappointed but hoped I would get Kids First registered so that Harriet could get medical services at this centre.
I thank God this has come to pass. Once I got the registration certificate, the next morning I went to this rehabilitation home to work on the process of seeing Harriet get therapy. I am so happy to let you know that Harriet has been admitted to this rehabilitation centre and she will be undergoing intensive therapy for one month.
Harriet is a very loved girl in Kids First. I was overwhelmed with the support everyone gave to see her get into this rehabilitation centre. On her day of admission, apart from myself, Stella was there to represent the mothers, Merabu the director of Gaba Model School (Harriet's school), and Harriet's teacher, Patricia, was there to support Harriet as she goes through her journey of specialised therapy treatment.
In addition, I am happy to note that Harriet's health has improved a lot since she started taking her HIV treatment. She has been so cooperative in taking her medication and the doctors are happy that her health has improved. At her last visit to the hospital they reduced the medication she was getting because of the improvement.
Merabu, the Director of Gaba Model School, has been a huge blessing to Kids First but also to Harriet as she accepted to keep her in her lovely home for part of this school break, and while I was worried about how I was going to help Harriet in the hospital, she connected me to Harriet's best teacher. This teacher, Patricia, will visit her in the hospital and at the same time help her with her school work while at the hospital.
With the kid of love and care Harriet is receiving her life is changing for the better and we thank God for that.
Mukama abawe omukisa,
Happy New Year!! What a great start to the year we had. Although new years day in NZ was rainy, I received a wonderful update from Joshua about more women on the microfinance programme, who have seen such a huge benefit to their lives in the last few months of 2015. Nothing is better than seeing people empowered to support themselves and their families. This is our aim at Kids First: to value others as Christ does, thus empowering them to make the most of the opportunities we can offer to help benefit themselves, their family, and their community.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to another amazing woman, mother, and grandmother, who is starting 2016 with a brand new outlook and a positive attitude. Let's hope we can all be so enthusiastic this January, and carry it through to the end of the year. And remember, if you haven't yet decided to support or sponsor through us or any other organisation, I strongly encourage you to do so this year. A small amount may change a life, and even a family (our microfinance loans are about NZD45/USD30, and yet families are reaping huge rewards from the boost they give).
Microfinance Success Story 5:
NAME: Elizabeth Nanyunja
Age: 56 years
Elizabeth is a widow with seven children and eight grandchildren.
Elizabeth is one of the leaders in Kids First. She has been with us since the start of the organisation.
Below is what she had to say about the microfinance project.
“Becoming a widow at a very young age with a young family, I was so desperate to find help from a number of organisations so that I could keep my children in school and get them food to eat.
Unfortunately most of the help I was getting was handouts so ended up going back and forth for help. I was so pleased when I joined Kids First because from the start it was helping us to lead self-sustainable lives.
Through craft we can make money that can help us meet our needs and when the micro-finance came in it just empowered us all the more. I lost one of my daughters to HIV/AIDS, leaving behind four orphans that I had to take care of. Three of these children are on medication which is free but it requires proper feeding [people with HIV are prone to nutritional problems and need greater attention on a balanced diet] which is so costly especially if you have a big family to take of.
I am happy that with the microfinance I have enlarged my income base and feeding my sick grandchildren is no longer a challenge. I cannot stop smiling because I am now so sure that with proper feeding I will be able to see them live for a longer time. Thanks a lot Kids First for not giving us fish but for helping us fish for ourselves.”
NAME: Victoria Nakagulire
Age: 52 years
Victoria is a widow with five children and eight grandchildren. She is a very hard working woman who has worked hard to raise both her children and grandchildren. Victoria joined Kids First at the early stages of its establishment and she is so instrumental in counselling young mothers in Kids First.
Craft making has been the core source of income for Victoria but she has always looked for ways she can increase her income, not only to look after her grandchildren but also to be able to help other women that come to Kids First women group for help. When Victoria heard of the microfinance project she welcomed it with open hands. She attended the business training and applied for the loan. We have been so a happy to learn how Victoria has been creative with her loan. Victoria bought more materials for making craft as well as two goats. She will care for these pregnant goats and then sell the kids.
When Victoria increased her craft making she looked for bigger markets in Kampala. At the moment she has rented a craft stall in one of the big craft markets in Kampala where she is not only going to sell her crafts but will also help other women by selling their crafts, which help help them improve their income.
NAME: Prosy Kisakyamuka
Age: 38 years
Prosy is a mother of four kids and two grandchildren. She lives in a swamp area in Bbunga with poor living conditions. Prosy was divorced, but still had to care for her family, so her only option was cheap accommodation in the swamps. However, whenever it rains they face serious floods and often end up with diseases due to sewage flowing into their house.
Prosy got to know about Kids First six years ago and since she joined her life has been improving. She was taught to make crafts, but the income was not enough to help her take two of her kids and one of her grandchildren to school. Often they were unable to afford food or even be able to get to the hospital for treatment.
It is on the above background that Kids First considered Prosy as one of the first beneficiaries of the micro finance project, and we are so happy to share her progress. This is what she says:
“I have so many things to be proud of from Kids First, but the provision of the micro finance was overwhelming. I could not believe when I had 100,000 shillings in my hands. Good enough Kids First had taken us through a business micro finance training, so although I was overwhelmed with the joy of having this money, I knew how I was to use it.
"I invested my money in selling Matoke ”green bananas” [a dietary staple in Uganda] and since I did this I have never stopped smiling. I have been able to provide my family at least two meals a day. I am no longer living under stress because in know come next year I will be able to get some of the school fees I need for my kids without stress.
"From barely having no money I can at least save 4000 shillings a day and as I talk I have paid back my loan! I got another loan from Kids First which I am going to top up 100,000 shillings and buy a sewing machine of 200,000 shillings so that I increase on my products I sell in our craft project.
"I have hope that in few years I will be able to move my family from the swamp to somewhere better thanks a lot to this wonderful project”.
NAME: Noeline Nayigaga
Age: 38 years
Noeline is a mother of five kids. Kids First got to know about her through her son, Shadrack, who attends our soccer project. Shadrack would report about the domestic violence they were going through as a family. It is from this background that Kids First approached Noeline, inviting her to join our women’s group for counseling.
In Kids First, Noeline meet some fellow women who had gone through abuse similar to what she was going through. She tried her very best to learn craft making but she found this very difficult. It was then the Kids First micro finance project came to her rescue. Below is what Noeline has to say about her involvement in the micro finance project.
“I always admired my fellow women who could make craft for sale through Kids First. I tried my level best to learn something but I was not talented at all in craft so I failed. I was getting the encouragement from my fellow women and also through our Thursday Bible devotions. I felt God still loved me and he cared and for sure He does. My son was getting his soccer talent developed and my daughter was also being occupied in the music project. This reduced the effect on them of seeing my husband and me fight. I knew my relationship with my husband would get better if I could help him with some family needs. The time I was almost giving up with my marriage is when Kids First came up with the micro finance project.
"After going through some training of business that was organized by Kids First, I was given a loan of 100,000 Shillings. I started a small business of selling vegetables like cabbages, tomatoes, onions, egg plants etc. Since I started this business my life has changed a lot. I can manage to save at least 5000 Shillings a day and because of my income I have also started contributing to our family needs, for example buying food for my family.
"My relationship with my husband has improved a lot: he never used to support me in meeting with my fellow women, but now he encourages me to attend these meetings. I have seen my kids perform better in school due to the peaceful environment at home. I am really very happy and looking forward to growing my business”.
A few months ago Kids First branched out on a new venture: small business loans.
We believed this could provide an important hand up to motivated women, and a kickstart to a small businesses.
Women keen to be involved were invited to a day of small business and finance training, arranged by Joshua. The first round of loans were given out: 100,000UGX (about 45NZD). This doesn't sound like much, but you will be amazed at what these women have achieved!
Motivation + hope + training + resources
A women's potential becomes reality, a family provided for and a future created.
NAME: Joyce Sematimba
Age: 40 years
Joyce is married to Fred Sematimba, who works as a security guard earning 150,000shillings a month. Together they are blessed with five children.
The family of seven live in one room. Fred's salary cannot take care of all the family's needs. When Joyce saw her husband depressed because of the hardships they were going through, she knew she had to do something to assist him.
When Joyce shared with her friend about their financial problems, the friend advised her to join Kids First. Through Kids First Joyce was taught how to make crafts, which made her so happy because she knew she could add to the family income. When Joyce had of the opportunity of micro-finance, she applied so she could improve her income. Below Joyce explains about her progress after getting the loan:
“It is stressing as a mother to see your children struggling to get basic needs, and disturbing to be unable to give enough support to your husband who is struggling financially. When I joined Kids First I started making crafts which I could sell and get some money. But because of the needs of the family, every profit I could make I would spend it without leaving anything to increase my capital so that I could produce more craft.
"When I got the loan from Kids First was able to buy more materials for making crafts. Since this happened I have seen our lives change as a family. Investing in craft has enabled me to produce more craft items and this has also enabled me expand my market. I am no longer selling crafts to only Kids First but also to other craft markets. I have been able to at least make savings of seventy thousand shillings at the end of every month. We all look healthier as a family because of the reduced stress. This school term I was able to pay for a school trip for my kids. Seeing my kids go for this trip, tears of joy rolled down my eyes. I saw my kids living a normal life like any other kids. This would have never have happened if it was not for the boost I got from the loan I was provided for. We now laugh a lot as a family and I feel valued as a wife because of the contribution I am making towards our family."
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!