Established in February 2013, a.k.a. HOPE is dedicated to helping and loving a specific group of children** that come from the Naguru slums on the outskirts of Kampala. Mostly orphaned and many displaced as refugees, they have been driven from their homes and largely forgotten by the Ugandan government and foreign aid-workers. These kids have fought to survive civil wars with terrorists, genocide, death, and trafficking, as well as the tough life living on the streets.
We have welcomed them “home” to a campus in beautiful Fort Portal, an area in the mountainous region of Uganda, where they can live undisturbed, attend local schools without fear of being chased away, and have the chance to just be kids.
In French, it is "espoir". In Italian, "speranza", and in German, "hoffnung". And in the slums of Naguru, in our little group, we have the Arabic word "amal", the Luganda "suubi", Swahili's "matumaini", and in Rutooro, it is "kunihira". You and I pronounce it as "hope".
The Bible calls it an anchor for the soul. Samuel Johnson defines it as "the chief happiness which this world affords." Shakespeare refers to it as the only medicine for the miserable. The dictionary states that hope "is the feeling that what is wanted can be had."
We have hope, immeasurable hope, that where they are now, the hurts they have suffered, the circumstances they were born into will not dictate their future. For "to live without hope is to cease to live."
MISSION | VISION
Here at a.k.a. HOPE, our collective heart is for those that have been so marginalized, so mistreated, or are so impoverished that no one, not even the big sponsorship programs is willing to take them in. We work with and serve children who have been trafficked for both sex and labor purposes, who have had to flee their country of origin because of war and genocide, who have been forced into rebel armies as child soldiers, who have lived in the trash heap or in ditches and countless other horror stories, which have left many, if not all, orphaned and homeless. The atrocities that these children have faced and survived is the very definition of injustice.
This is the harsh reality for every child in our program. However, we choose not to dwell on this fact. You will rarely, if ever, see a photo or hear a story that exploits these children as broken and forgotten individuals. No. On the contrary, you will hear success stories of how a child on the street has now become top in her class. You will see pictures of boys playing soccer and smiling from ear to ear. Our goal is to show you an image of HOPE, a transformation of mind and body and spirit as these kids are rehabilitated from trauma and abuse, to acceptance and a future.
We accomplish this by providing a safe environment for these kids. An environment which allows every opportunity for health and growth and empowerment and accomplishment. A few key aspects are as follows:
A HOME - not an orphanage. We love and respect these children as our own. We interact as a family, treating one another with grace and forgiveness to see the fullest potential achieved in every individual. We provide beds for comfortable and restful nights' sleep, space to run and play and to just be kids, and a guaranteed three meals per day - all luxuries many have never experienced before. Finally, peace of mind and safety is afforded them through a security guard being on the premises at all times.
An EDUCATION - whether this is traditional formal education taking place in a schoolroom or vocational training and apprenticeship for a trade of their choice, these children have the choice to determine their future.
HEALTHCARE - cuts, scrapes, bruises, parasites, TB, HIV - we've experienced them all and all are being treated. We have a sick-room at the home, a place where those who are contagious or need some extra peace and quiet can rest until they are up at at 'em again. We have a relationship with a local clinic for minor issues and, when needed, transport the children to Kampala for specialists or more advanced medical treatment.