Kampala, Uganda: Katoogo Slum Colony, Children’s Hope Center

My day began late as I was recovering from travel and an intense couple of weeks shooting in the Holy Land. I made my way to the Katoogo slum colony in the southern part of Kampala, Uganda with my Kampala Director, Joseph. I’m here reviewing programs of Peace Gospel International and our human trafficking response program known as She Has Hope. Working in partnership with Joseph, a few years ago we started a “Children’s Hope Center” in one of the rougher slums of Kampala. The colony is plagued by flooding, stagnant sewage, and no trash collection. Plastic waste is strewn about the colony along with what smells like and appears to be toxic waste materials in the standing puddles that the children walk through barefoot without a second thought.

In the midst of these scenes stands the Children’s Hope Center, an education and nutrition outreach of Peace Gospel International. We started the center as an after-school care program but a couple of years ago transformed it into a full-blown primary school with about 200 students enrolled. We have faced several challenges at the school, mostly from damage caused to the humble facility during flash floods. As the colony is at the base of the Gaba hills approaching Lake Victoria, the area is flood prone.

We are in the process of raising the level of the school and adding additional classroom space, but fundraising is always a challenge and so we are just piecing it together as funds are provided. Our goal is to get the school to a level worthy of accreditation and open up seats for families who can afford tuition as a means of sustainability like we have achieved with our rural high school here in Uganda.

I arrived toward the end of the school day, so the younger children had already been dismissed. But I got there in time for lunch, and then enjoyed observing afternoon classes with the older students. I also had the honor of guest-teaching the 5th grade English class! After school dismissed, I took a walk around the colony to capture some scenes of the environment for you to understand what kind of conditions we’re dealing with here.

It is nothing short of gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. I pulled several barefoot children out of the cesspools, trying to warn them that it is not safe for them to play there. As usual, there are endless hazards in the colony like rusty nails in boards, jagged edges of aluminum sheets, glass, and other sharp objects where the children play in the trash piles either barefoot or in flimsy flip-flops. My new friend, the girl in the black and white dress, and I worked to pick up nails and shards to put them in a safe place away from where the children play. It seems futile, but you cannot help but want to try. Needless to say, there are several sick children in the colony. The mothers urge me to take a look inside their shanties to see their ill children, asking me for money to help them. It kills me every time. We can’t save them all, but with education and nutrition being offered to the most at-risk in the colony, we hope to break this vicious cycle of extreme poverty over time.

Uganda is also dealing with a food crisis as last year the country suffered intense drought and as a result, food prices have doubled. Several children were lined up outside our center with bowls, hoping to get leftovers from lunch. Thankfully we had enough to serve most, but we lack the budget to keep the pantry stocked with adequate supplies of rice, cornmeal, and beans, which are all staples of the local diet. Peace Gospel and She Has Hope are small charities funded almost completely by individuals. Any gift you might be able to chip in to help us meet our monthly operating goals would be appreciated and put to immediate use for urgent needs.

Tomorrow, internet willing, I will share with you more about our newest She Has Hope rehabilitation home in Kampala and the craft making classes empowering them to recover from human trafficking. I will also return to the Children’s Hope Center to share with you more about the program there. Thank you for reading and viewing the photos.

Click/Tap any photo to start a slideshow. 

Rural Uganda: Clinic, High School, Farmland, Children’s Outreach

Some miscellaneous shots from around Peace Gospel‘s main campus in rural Uganda.

Some fun news in this post. But first a little update about our clinic. Our hospital is not yet fully operational, so I’ve decided to still just call it a clinic for now. Once we can gain more profits from our farmland & garden enterprise, and/or raise more monthly sponsors to cover the staff needs at the clinic, then we can call it a hospital. Almost everything else is in place for it to be a true hospital.

Here are a couple of shots from around the clinic which offers medical aid to local residents and their children. We do have one full time nurse seen in the photos, who is licensed to administer first aid and medicines from our small-scale pharmacy. We hold seasonal medical camps at the clinic; in October we treated over 1,000 local residents in a 3 day period.

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Our high school is home to several children who would otherwise have no access to education past “Primary 7” which is the American equivalent of “7th Grade.” To serve the 460,000 residents of the Mayuge district, there is only one government high school with adequate facilities. There is simply no room at the high school, and even so, if there were, most the Mayuge children would have no way of reaching the school. Thus we have started our own high school to offer an affordable alternative for the rural children to continue their education past Primary 7. Many are on scholarship, and for those who do pay, it is very minimal, avg. $20/month. A total of 153 young scholars attend the school. We also have a boarding facility at the high school, home to 45 of our scholars during the school year. Here are a few scenes from the high school. This first shot is from lunch time.

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The big news is that our orphan home on campus is getting several finishing touches, including painting, fixtures, an full indoor kitchen and a security wall, all being completed this week. Here are a few scenes I captured from the new home which is situated right beside the high school. Our directors Frank & Susan are so happy to finally be able to live on campus with the orphans they’ve adopted as well as their biological children. The new facility is a vast improvement over the previous rented home which was just a rudimentary shelter with an outdoor kitchen.

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Our native team has a 6-acre farmland to help supplement their funding and provide nutritious ingredients for the meals served to the students and local children they reach with nutritional support. Frank surprised me with news of their effort to raise turkeys! So you’ll see a shot from the– what do we call it? “turkey house?”– here, as well as from our piggery and potato crop. The farmland employs several locals who are proud to be a part of the project. (The boy pictured in the potato field is not working the field, he is just playing, by the way– I’ll get emails if I don’t clarify this!) The vegetable garden is being replanted for the coming rainy season at the moment, so you will not see that.

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Our nutrition & hygiene outreach program serves several children from the community whom we have identified as at-risk. Here are a few photos from one of the meal times when we served over 80 children a fresh-cooked meal. These children also receive hygiene supplies when needed, as well as clothing and school supplies.

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