Of all of the African countries that I have been to Uganda remains my favourite. It has all of the elements to make a country a thrill to visit. The landscape is stunning at every turn. Massive blue skies over green hills and red African earth. Impressive volcanoes, stunning lakes, and dense jungles fill the country. The wildlife is spectacular. Incredible animals that can be found no where else world (in the wild). From gorillas, to hippos, to millions of colourful birds, this country has an animal lover’s head spinning.
Ugandans are special people. They are always ready to share a smile and a laugh with anyone that may cross their path. The people of Uganda are genuine and kind. I felt at home instantly. I fell completely in love with their friendly spirits and the ladies beautiful fabrics (that’s another story).
Unfortunately, Uganda has its share of tragedy. Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to be struck by HIV in epidemic proportions. In the late 1980’s, 25% of Uganda’s population was infected. Today 6.5% (1.2 million people) of Ugandans are HIV positive. A conflict in northern Uganda is now into its second decade. In the north many children have lost their families as a result of this 20-year war.
Poverty, unsafe drinking water, war, alcoholism, and HIV all contribute to making this beautiful country a troubled one.
For many reasons Uganda is full of orphaned children. The UN states that Uganda has 2.5 million orphans, and that 20% of the children in the country live without parents.
These numbers are difficult to comprehend from a western perspective. With next to no social services these orphaned children and babies are literally left to fend for themselves. While traveling through Uganda these realities got easier to grasp. There are literally children everywhere! The median age in the country is only 15. The numbers of children clearly out weighed the adults.
Many of these children were living on their own, on the streets, and in need of help. In Jinja, Uganda there are 2 extraordinary people helping these children.
Moses Easyyoh Kiyimba and Damali Mirembe Wattier both grew up as orphans. Now in their adult lives they have taken it upon themselves to help other orphaned children. They have now both started their own organizations to provide loving homes to children without families.
Moses is the founder of African Street Children Organization (ASCO) where he and several others provide a safe home for 18 boys between the ages of 6 and 15. Before ASCO they had all been living on the street, sniffing paraffin and begging for money. After spending 2 weeks with these boys I can personally vouch for the outstanding work that is going into saving their lives and making their futures brighter. They are all incredibly sweet and smart boys who deserve a chance at a successful life.
Damali is the founder of Sonrise Baby Home . A visit to Sonrise is an unforgettable experience. The warmth that flows from Damali’s heart would melt even the toughest of the tough. She is inside and out pure beauty, with more than enough love to share with the 21 orphan babies in her care! Oh, and the babies.…. each one of them could stop your heart with one glance. All of the babies that live at Sonrise are under the age of 3. They have been abandoned or their mothers have died and the rest of the family can not afford them. On arrival most of the babies where malnourished with health problems. Damali caught wind of a bad situation, rescued them, and the rest is history.
The people at Sonrise Baby Home work around the clock to provide a comfortable and healthy life, full of love for the babies at the orphanage.
If you are heading to Africa I recommend Uganda, and volunteering with either or both of these wonderful organizations. These children can quickly change your life, and warm your heart. I know that they did mine!
If volunteering is not a possibility, please consider making a donation. For more information on either of these organizations please contact me or check out their websites and facebook pages.
Here are the links:
African Street Children Organisation (ASCO) on Facebook.
Sonrise Baby Home website
Sonrise Baby Home on FacebookSHARE