HENRY CHILDREN’S HOME – UGANDA
A LITTLE ABOUT HENRY CHILDREN’S HOME
Henry Children’s Home was started in 2009 in a remote village in Eastern Uganda, in Nambale- Iganga District. The "Home" is now bringing the plight of the little known village to the attention of the international community. There are approximately 50 orphans and vulnerable children supported by the home, ranging from babies to teenagers.
The home relies on the support of friends and well-wishers. It is mostly supported by a group of young people many of them students in different parts of Uganda and other countries, who felt the need to support these very needy children. The home has also survived with support from the community. Many community members bring in food items, clothing, firewood and other kind support in kind.
The home was founded by Henry Mutebe a young man who grew up from this little village and grew up to witness the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS in this community. Henry was lucky to get a good education and after graduating with a first class degree in Development Studies, he left the city and committed to go back and support the community that saw him through the hard times of his childhood.
He convened a meeting with a few friends and asked each of them to commit 5000Ug.Shs ( $2.5) each month. This would help him feed, accommodate and support some of these children some of whom were abandoned and having one meal a day. This was the birth of the orphanage. Many young people have come to like the idea and have since been joining the team to keep changing the lives of these deprived children
Most of the children lost both parents, are abandoned, are out of school and some are HIV+. Due TO the condition of some of the children, and given the small capacity of the home, some of the children are supported from their parent homes. We deliver care and support to their homes where they are staying with care givers/Guardians. It is in the extreme cases of abandoned and very vulnerable children that allow them in the home. We try very much to re-integrate these children back into the communities and to ensure that they remain supported by the community and grow in a caring and nurturing natural environment/family.
At the home, we provide food and accommodation, educational support, psyco-social support, Advocacy and livelihood support. We also facilitate acquisition of skills for the children to be able to survive in a highly competitive environment. With the pool of volunteers at the home, these children are exposed to different values, skills, cultures and inspiration through their stay at the home. We also organize recreational weeks, children’s camps, studies and vocational workshops for them to get required knowledge and skills for development. We try as much as possible to recreate the lives of the children under our care.
The Home is largely run on a communal basis with many of the staff working as volunteers. HCH only provides food and other supplies to meet some of their basic needs. The home has a resident Matron, a care assistant, and store keeper. The home has also been supported by a qualified accountant who works as the Administrator on a voluntary basis. The HCH family has been growing over time and is now reaching to over 200 friends of the orphans. Every hour, every day and every month there is always something/ some activity/work that needs the support of someone. We need volunteers to come and help out at the Home anytime of the year. We have enough accommodation to support the volunteers we invite.
A WORD FROM THE FOUNDER- HENRY MUTEBE
After completing my University Degree, I thought of something I can do to give back to my community that gave so much to me and nothing came so straight in my mind than setting up a home for destitute children. Growing up in a rural community, I grew up to witness the cracks and scars of HIV/AIDS especially in the lives of children. Many children’s hearts were broken and they were left in tears. In an era where the social economic conditions are displacing the place of extended family support system for the marginalized and vulnerable members in African communities, these children often see no more hope in life. For many, the thought of a future is to see broken dreams and shattered lives.
Whereas, I was blessed beyond measure to go to good schools and get a proper education, I am only one in a community of thousands. During my graduation party, I cried in front of a thousand people that came to witness my success. Looking at the faces of unfortunate children I grew up and played with during my childhood. I saw how everybody needs a chance in life at a time when they need to plant a seed for their future. I saw broken hearts and lives that had come to congratulate me. I could read from their faces a sense of resignation and despair. It was as though they were telling me to accomplish what they could all have done to build their lives and that of the community. For those of my age, I could do nothing… but for the children, I felt there was something I could do to avert the situation. Looking deep in their eyes, I could see their fears… but also hope and encouragement that there was someone of their own who had made it… and may be they too can.
In my own neighborhood, I saw children who went with one meal day. I also saw children who do not go to school just because of books of less than 2000Ugs. As someone who has purely benefited from education in life, I felt there was no better thing to do than design some form of intervention to help them. Thinking about the friends I have met across the course of my life, I realized there was hope.
So I set out to meet as many friends I possibly could, talked to them about what I wanted to do and asked them to take off just 5000Ug.Shs($2.5) of their monthly earnings and dedicate it to these children. I also asked them to help out at the orphanage with their knowledge and skills. I used Facebook quite tensely and it helped me reach out to many people. The response was overwhelming. From then on, Henry Children’s Home became a reality and it is still surviving on the $2.5 of dedicated young people who have a heart for children. I am very grateful to each of you for the love and support and for making my dream a reality. You do not know how much difference you have made and may God grant you what means most to you for being obedient, caring, loving and mindful of those who need your support.
Busoga Region is by all measure the poorest region in Uganda today, but there are very few interventions and deliberate efforts that have been put in place to try and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS and poverty in this region. I call upon the government, and international community to think about the plight of the people in this poor region. The presence of peace is not a guarantee for development. I have seen and lived with people who go with one meal a day. Their lives are a world that lives in me and I will live to dedicate my life to helping and supporting these children as much as God can grant me life. Come join me as we help these children overcome their fears… and live to their fullest lives
ACTIVITIES AND IMPORTANT EVENTS YOU CAN TAKE PART IN
Home based care
Art and crafts
Computer training week
Games and sports
Creative arts week
Creative arts and performance nights
Writing and painting week
Quotes about children
‘Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.’
‘Where do I go from here? After all the broken heart and tears. How do I pick up the pieces of my broken dreams and shattered life? I need a friend…someone to help me rediscover my dreams. I know there is someone… who can help me rebuild my life.’
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Dr. Martha Kibuka Musoke
How we work
(Approach and Programming)
At Henry Children’s Home, we believe that a family is generally the optimal environment for a child to grow and develop. Our care and support is therefore premised on this timeless principle. For many children who still have someone to accommodate them, someone of their blood, we encourage them to remain in a loving family situation in which stability, care, predictability, and protection can be maintained. We support their caregivers to build their capacity to improve their livelihoods. This often through Income generating activities, Skills training and provision of material support for the most vulnerable
Some of these are either ill or widowed parents, elderly grandparent, or young person left behind trying to make ends meet to support their young siblings. Through this kind of approach, we have been able to nurture a protective environment for the children we support. The ‘Home’, we believe is not an optimal place for child development, sustainability, or cost-effectiveness. However, there have been extreme situations, when residential care could be the only practical alternative; for example, abandoned children, particularly HIV positive children, for whom there is no alternative.
In all cases however, we try to maintain strong links with extended families, and strategize for the reintegration of children back into the community and securing a stable, family for them. Our focus is on keeping relatives together.
Food and Nutritional Support
Food and nutritional support are a very important of programs. Many children in our community are malnourished. We provide food for both the resident and non-resident children. However for the non-resident children, food is provide on a weekly basis while the residents feed on a daily basis at the home where they are staying. This food is bought from the small financial donations we receive from the well-wishers. The community members have also been supportive. We have received enormous food support from them towards these children. We would also like to start providing supplementary foods for persons living with HIV/AIDS many of whom are the caregivers and surviving parents of some for these children. We welcome any donations in support of this very essential component of our programming.
Shelter and Care
In this region, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has overloaded impoverished families to the point where many children are left without suitable shelter or care. Those children who find themselves without a caregiver become highly vulnerable to abuse and stunted development. At Henry children’s Home, we have center where children who need residential care can be accommodated. The community provided a big community center with full facilities. We also have another house where other children can be accommodated. We are however looking for land and money for construction of our own premises where we can broaden our plan and operations. We however focus on the most effective responses where the families, households and communities are at the center of the interventions.
HCH considers protection to be very basic premise on which the home was founded. We put the interested of the child and his or her family above all else. Our programs include efforts to confront and minimize the reality of stigma and social neglect faced by marginalized and vulnerable children. We try to ensure that children are not abused and exploited just because of their social status. We are developing an advocacy plan to try to network with legal service providers to give legal aid services to these children especially in matters relating to of inherited property, and land tenure.
At the home we have a resident nursing assistant, who looks after the health of the children. In extreme cases, children are referred to other bigger health centers or hospitals for further examination and the Home meets the expenses. Many of these children suffer from various diseases and we are committed to ensuring the good health for each of them. However, medication and treatment is one of the most expensive programs at the home and we need more support in this area. For example we require a clinic at the home, and a visiting doctor to offer more support. We would welcome any medical support at the Orphanage. We need support for the infants, toddlers, children and our adolescents.
We also have children who are living with HIV. These types need very special care and the home hasn’t gotten enough capacity to manage such cases. So we facilitate referrals and acquisition and access to vital medical supplies. We need more support in this area. We also need counselors to visit the home and offer psych-logical support to these children.
We believe that Healthy child development hinges greatly upon the continuity of social relationships and the development of a sense of competence. HIV/AIDS can undermine the fundamental human attachments essential to normal family life and child development. We realize that the Children at HCH are affected by HIV/AIDS suffer anxiety and fear during the years of parental illness, then grief and trauma with the death of a parent. Cultural taboos surrounding the discussion of AIDS and death often compound these problems. Children and their caregivers need love and emotional support, and the opportunity to express their feelings without fear of stigma and discrimination.
We have therefore designed programs that provide children with support that is appropriate for their age and situation, and recognize that children often respond differently to trauma and loss. We have and cases of children who had turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with this trauma. We on a consistent basis try to find innovative means of erasing these counterproductive activities amongst these children through offering value laden skills and activities for them.
Education and Vocational Training
Education support is an essential part of our OVC programming. We believe that educations not only benefit the individual child, but can also serve as important resource centers to meet the broader needs of communities. Schools can provide children with a safe, structured environment, the emotional support and supervision of adults, and the opportunity to learn how to interact with other children and develop social networks. An education is the key to employability and can also foster a child’s developmentally important sense of competence.
We therefore identify the barriers to accessing this education and break the barriers. Girls in our communities are more affected by this problem. So we have and are committed to addressing the disproportionate levels of risk they face when leaving school at an early age. Schools must also be made safe for children, especially girls. For children who may not be able t continue with formal education, we provide vocational skills for better livelihoods.
The home has not yet secured enough funds to have children in boarding schools. As such most children are supported in local community schools. We have built on the opportunity of free education to ensure that children affected by HIV/AIDS have access to education.
Henry Children's Home
P O Box 248, Iganga
Uganda, East Africa.
21km off Iganga-Mbale Highway
These little siblings lost both parents to HIV/AIDS. Their future hangs in a balance and we are trying to recreate their lives
This young boy(Chulie) is four years. He was abandoned and we have taken care of him. He has greatly improved since coming to the home.
Muwanga above, was abandoned by his parents because he was lame. He is has a twisted hand and leg. He is happy at the home living with other children who love him and take him as a normal child.
Lost both parents to HIV/AIDS
These siblings lost both parents and were living alone in a falling house. They had dropped out of school. With support from well-wishers…we have taken them back to school.
This girl lost both parents. Was staying with only surviving grandmother in that hut behind… after the death of her grandmother… she had no where to go… she has now found a home at Henry Children Home. She is asthmatic and needs a lot for medical support… asthma is believed to be demonic in the community and many people used to stigmatize her.
Ahsiraf lost both parents and was leaving alone in that open hut behind…which was the house of the parents… he has found a new home with us.
This girl lives with her very ill mother. The father died of HIV/AIDS and the mother is very ill. We are supporting to get education and providing livelihood support for the family since the mother can longer manage to farm.
This beautiful girl Janet was born premature and developed some problems in childhood. She became disabled and mentally retarded. She was abandoned. We picked up up and have started supporting her. We have made a small wooden chair for her… she cant seat well.. , she can not stand… she cant talk well,… she looks three years yet she is seven…
Henry Children's Home
P O Box 248, Iganga
Uganda, East Africa.
21km off Iganga-Mbale Highway
Date sent to internet: 2-dec-2010