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Good choice

Posted on August 14, 2017

Egasa-1128.jpgOne of the first children to be supported by Child of Hope is doing really well on a carpentry course at the Mbale municipality polytechnic. 

Egesa (15) originally dreamed of becoming a doctor when he joined the CoH nursery school, but sadly his grades didn’t match that and – after not performing too well in his Primary Leaving examinations – Bex helped him join the local polytechnic.

Egasa came from a very poor background, living with his mother and two brothers and joined CoH when it started in 2008 in a church hall.

He said: “I’m happy Aunt Bex helped me join the polytechnic, I love what I’m studying and what I’m doing especially the practical part of the course. I’m also happy that I will be able to help my family in the near future especially my mom, she struggled a lot with us to bring us up.”

According to his teachers, Egesa is performing well in school and will soon be sitting his exam for the first year.

He added: “My dream is to open up my own business, probably my own workshop, and also teach some children at child of Hope who do carpentry like me; I want to be a role model to them and I want them to know that I did not make a wrong choice.”


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Getting Ruth back

Posted on August 7, 2017

Ruth with her friend.b.jpgChild abduction is not a nice issue to face, but when it crops up with any of the children at our school, our family support team kicks into action fast.

Just two weeks ago, young Ruth (8 years old) was illegally taken by her father to a village where he lived a few hours away. She had been living with her mum Betty since their separation but would often go out for a few hours with her dad – but on this occasion they didn’t come back. Ruth was being kept at her father’s home and was not able to continue her education. Betty reported this to the local police who were unable to take any action due to their very limited resources and the fact that the case crossed district boundaries.

So, our family support team liaised with three police stations to find a way forward and the police were then prepared to give Betty some support. With that in place, we advised her what to do and gave her enough money for transport to go the village and recover Ruth. 

The whole process took eight days, but Ruth is now very happy to be back at school. The picture shows Ruth with her best friend Chebet and class teacher Akoth Phionah.

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Children in the UK are usually very interested in learning about the lives of children in Uganda – and two Hampshire sisters were no exception. After hearing about the work of Child of Hope, Lily (9) and Heidi (6), from Oakley, decided to get personally involved by making and selling cookies!

They started by making and distributing mini flyers about their cookie sale to all their friends. They then baked cookies of many different flavours, including white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, smarties, popping candy, and coconut and raisin cookies.

Andy, the girls’ dad, had collected pre-orders from his team at work, so the girls bagged up those cookies ready for him to take to work the following day. Mum Laura had invited over a group of friends for lunch and so the girls sold cookies to them too!

Lily and Heidi then set up a stall in their front garden. The flyers had worked well and lots of their friends came to buy cookies, as well as a few sweetie bags and toys that the girls had donated.

By this time, the girls’ desire to raise money had been well and truly ignited and so, in the evening, they bagged up the leftovers and went around with their mum knocking on neighbours’ doors asking if they’d like to buy cookies, and they all did! Finally, on the Sunday, the girls sold their last few cookies (and some freshly baked cakes) at church.

Heidi (6) said, “It was really fun, it took quite a while to make all the cookies and a lot of effort. When we sold all the cookies I felt really proud.”

Lily (9) added, “It was fun and exciting and we were helping children in Uganda have a better life. Just from selling cookies we raised a lot of money! People said our cookies were very yummy!”

Mum Laura said, “Heidi’s face was an absolute picture when I told them that a child in Africa would have schooling for a year because of what they’d done; it was the most excited I’d ever seen her!”

Amazingly, Lily and Heidi managed to raise over £200 for Child of Hope’s work in Uganda!  Wow! Very well done, Lily and Heidi! And thanks mum and dad for helping make it happen. Anyone want to do something like that?

Laura sent us her cookie recipe…

- 100g butter/marg
- 100g soft brown sugar... mix together then add
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 100g chocolate/raisins/smarties...
- 150g self raising flour
- Mix well
- Roll into balls
- Bake on a greased baking tray for 10-12 mins at 160'C

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Anna-3.jpgA slum mum is recovering from alcoholism – thanks to being helped to start a small business.

Mary (name changed for anonymity) wasn’t considered suitable for our IGA programme for several years, because she was regarded a hopeless drunk.

Now, when we talk of people being alcoholics here, we mean that they are drunk for almost every waking hour. They seem to be experts at making extremely potent alcoholic brews or spirits out of basic household waste. 

Anyway, our IGA team decided to try and help her start a charcoal-selling business. After the initial counselling and training, they only gave her £10 out of the £25 grant – because they wanted to see how she would get on.  

Mary started to cut down on her drinking but faced a number of challenges at home. With support from the IGA team, she slowly reduced her consumption by around 40%. However she was still drunk quite a lot each day and – bearing in mind that she had only been given a part of the grant – it wasn't surprising when the charcoal struggled to get off the ground.

However, her time selling charcoal (and the personal support we provided) encouraged her to drink even less and gain some practical business skills. She is now drunk much less often and is more able to manage a small business. Also, she is now regularly meeting – not just with our IGA team – but with other IGA mothers in a weekly self-help group to encourage one another.

As a result, the IGA team gave her the remaining £15 of the grant. She is doing remarkably well now with a vegetable business (see picture) although, as she escapes the alcoholism, her alcoholic husband is starting to be physically abusive to her at home – so challenges remain and our welfare team is now also involved with the family.

So, not exactly a feel-good story, but it shows how difficult and complex our work can be when we help them start a business. It is not just a case of handing someone £25 and off they go. To help this lady, it has needed a lot of counselling and hard work from the IGA and welfare teams… actually our staff have worked wonders to help her get this far. And they haven’t finished yet.

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Sports_7300 copy.jpg

Yes, it’s true! We have found that physical activities can be hugely beneficial in helping struggling children to grasp basic Maths concepts.

Supporting slower learners is always a challenge and there can be a range of factors that cause individual children to struggle with their learning.

And then a few months ago, we received a generous donation of sports and games equipment, including ropes, balls, scrabble, Ludo and dominoes. Our teachers have been putting these to good use, not only in playtimes but also to enhance learning. 

Teacher Stella explained that skipping games can be used to help children with counting – as the children jump, the teacher can guide the children to count. Ludo is helping children with counting and problem-solving. Dominoes are used to help with number identification, problem-solving and addition. Now, children who are reluctant to engage in writing activities have made great progress through learning number skills through sports and games.

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New child fostering service

Posted on July 18, 2017

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Our initiative to arrange fostering for orphans and other vulnerable children was born when our respite accommodation became far too overcrowded and we realised it’s not suitable for all children. The new fostering programme not only relieves pressure but also offers a better environment for some of the children who couldn't live with their own immediate or extended families.

In this slum, a lot of children are unable to live in a happy and loving environment with their biological parents. Some are orphans, some lose their parents through sickness or abandonment, and some are abused at home.  

It’s been hard work! After a lot of time and energy, we have only recruited eight families, which has enabled 13 children to move out of the children’s home and into a family setting. Despite slow progress we are committed to seeing more of the children in our children’s home find suitable foster families because – along with the Ugandan Government – we believe this is the best way for these children to grow and flourish.

In Uganda the Government has produced a framework called ‘Alternative Care’ which gives guidance on how best to look after orphaned and vulnerable children. If it is not possible for the child to live with their biological parents then it states that ‘kinship care’ is next best, ie staying with biological relatives (aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc). If this is not possible, then the next best solution is fostering, hopefully eventually leading to adoption within Uganda. The last option is staying in a children’s home. This system seems very good to us but sadly there is no official fostering service in Uganda!  

This has not deterred us though! Our Family Support team have worked very hard to find suitable local families who would be willing to take children into their homes. Although Ugandan families are used to accommodating children who are from their wider family, taking in children who are not related to them is very rare. Therefore plenty of counselling and explanation has been undertaken with prospective families and children, as well as inspection of homes.  

Anyway, we are continuing to work to encourage more members of the community to become foster parents and to raise money to pay families who are currently fostering to cover the extra costs involved in taking in an extra child. So far, being fostered has made a real difference to the children who have all responded well: they each have a brighter future now and are happier, showing improved health and motivation in studying at school.


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School no.2

Posted on July 4, 2017

Child of Hope_0455.jpgBREAKING NEWS: We are working on plans to launch our own secondary school in the Namatala slum.  

Basically, it’s in order to complete our children’s education at the same high standard we have reached in our nursery and primary school. Since our first older children left our school and moved up to local secondary schools, there have been concerns about a deterioration in their learning and behaviour.

COH continues to support 42 leavers as they pass through their secondary education. They will be joined by a further 25 in November 2017 and then 44 in November 2018 giving a total of 111 within the next 18 months.

That support is much more than the cost of fees, uniforms and scholastic materials, since individuals continue to live disadvantaged home lives in the slum. It therefore also includes a mid-day meal back at COH school Monday to Friday where our welfare team staff can talk to students, check attendance and offer help and advice.

They also receive home visits and medical treatment as needed, plus full care for those who are homeless (we currently have 3 in our respite accommodation and 5 who are fostered).

We also provide them with 2 week programmes in the holidays to support development of personal and social skills, as well as study skills where we employ secondary school teachers to give specialist revision classes.

Despite our efforts, ex-COH pupils’ reports are showing a deterioration in learning and behaviour is worsening in terms of application and effort. And during this last year, there has been a growing number of teachers’ strikes in Ugandan state secondary schools, which is also having a serious negative impact on pupils’ learning and opportunity to achieve a better future life. 

So, watch out for more news about secondary education as our plans develop!

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Incredible transformation for Rachael

Posted on May 22, 2017

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Over her whole time in Child of Hope, Rachael, one of the children in nursery top class, had not been a happy girl. 

Nursery staff observed a catalogue of problems including general poor health, poor nutrition, and very low self-esteem. Rachael was always crying and was unable to explain what she needed to the teachers. Although we identified her as being a bright girl, she was making little progress because her basic needs were not being met. 

Nursery Rachel (5).JPGHeadteacher, Amulen Scovia, approached the school nurse to get a medical assessment, and then recommended that the Family Support team carry out a home visit. It was found that Rachael was sleeping with the goats (outside the main house), was being inadequately fed and was not being washed. She was also being used for general labour. 

It was agreed that regular home follow ups would be made by both the Family Support Unit and nursery staff. Rachael was also put on the feeding programme. 

Since then, we have seen an incredible transformation in Rachael this term! She is now clean and smart when she comes to school and she always has a big smile on her face. She is active in lessons and is making excellent progress in both Language and Mathematics. She has made friends and she enjoys playing with them at break times. We are excited to see how she continues to progress over the course of this year!

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Jo visits the school

Posted on May 17, 2017

Jo and IGA.jpg 

CoH UK volunteer Jo Edom loves the impact of our work with slum children – so she decided to travel to Uganda (on her own!) and visit the school.

Long-term supporter Jo was very impressed with what she saw. During her two weeks, she got involved with the various different departments, especially the family support unit visiting with the most needy families around the community and some of the mums we have help set up in business. 

Jo visiting.jpgJo said: “I am really impressed with the services Child of Hope offers. As well as a fantastic primary school, the IGA and Welfare services are a real bonus for the community. Probably the key challenge that Child of Hope faces is finding enough funds to support this ever-expanding organisation!”

She spoke to Rita Nandudu at the school in an interview about her experience…

Jo, is this your first time in Africa?

I’ve been in Africa before – I lived in Zimbabwe for four years when my husband had a job with Barclays bank in Zimbabwe.

But was this been your first time in Uganda and at Child of Hope?

IMG_7549.jpgYes; I stayed in Entebbe for two nights then travelled through to Mbale. I was amazed when I saw the school building – it looks more amazing than it in the pictures I’ve seen. After driving through the Namatala community and its small houses, then seeing Child of Hope’s large premises, it is amazing to see. 

How do you feel about Uganda?

It seems much greener that other countries in Africa. But when I walked around Namatala, I was shocked. I’ve been to so many places where people are poor, but I had never where people are as poor as in Namatala. It’s the most needy place with the most needy people I’ve seen. Then, when I arrived at the gate of the school and all the little children came running to shake my hands, it was wonderful.

When and how did you join Child of Hope?

It was about seven years ago; I attended a church service in England where Moses and Bex Okotel were speaking. They talked about Child of Hope being a community-based organisation that was in need of help for children and their mothers in the Namatala community. I quickly became interested and asked them what I could do to help. Now I help with the finances, keeping track of donations coming in and working with the team to explore fund raising opportunities.

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At the Elim Leaders' conference

Posted on May 9, 2017

CoH Elim stand 2017.jpgThis week we are again exhibiting at the Elim Leaders' Summit at the Harrogate International Centre.

Here is volunteer Diane Aylett from Wimborne Elim Church; she and hubby Alan are manning the stand to tell Elim pastors all about the great work Child of Hope is doing for slum kids and their families!

Child of Hope is an Elim-approved organisation and our Ugandan school is often visited by pastors from the UK.



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