Giving Life Back to a Ugandan Slum
In June 2012 Sustain for Life made a three year grant to Children on the Edge, a UK based organisation with a very successful track-record of creating better lives for some of the world’s most vulnerable children to help the inhabitants of the Soweto slum outside of Jinja, Uganda. This programme aims to improve the situation within the community of Soweto for vulnerable children and their carers, creating a safer community for children where their needs are met and rights protected — providing children and young people in Soweto with the opportunities, skills and psycho-social support that will enable them to develop into healthy adults that can enter into constructive livelihoods and achieve their potential.
Soweto, one of eight slums on the outskirts of Jinja, Uganda, is home to over 4,000 people who have largely been displaced by conflict. Cramped into 10 acres, these people are struggling for existence in despicable conditions. Unskilled in agriculture and with limited access to land and basic inputs, brewing and distilling alcohol has become Soweto’s primary economic activity. Girls aged between 10-15 are often responsible for this activity, whilst caring for young children who sit among the highly explosive containers and black sludge effluent that runs throughout the community. As a result malnutrition is rife; from six months, children eat the dregs of the brewed maize and sorgum as porridge.
High HIV prevalence and the reliance on alcohol has resulted in many vulnerable and orphaned children; most households are either headed by children or by adult carers who are elderly, sick or continuously inebriated. With no place to go throughout the day, children are left exposed to a range of abuses. Child abuse is common and child sacrifice is a growing issue in Soweto and the surrounding area, with children left unattended throughout the day being highly vulnerable to this. With no place to play, children amuse themselves with whatever they can find, playing with machetes and the mounds of garbage that litter the slum. Children in Soweto have little hope, with no sustainable livelihoods for their families, little nutrition, no access to education and no safe place to simply enjoy being children.
This programme will provide pre-primary education for children under five and educational support for children who have dropped out of school. Providing nutritious meals will reduce child malnutrition and improve health. The community will be mobilized through Community Child Protection Committees, access essential services and receive sensitization on child rights, parenting, family planning and child abuse. Vulnerable households will be able to meet their own needs through access to comprehensive agricultural training, land and inputs. The Jinja District Government has formally agreed to support the project through the provision of a building that can be used as a community centre and between three and four acres of land which can be used for cultivation and agricultural training.
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project.