Photo: As hungry children cannot focus on learning, all students at the school enjoy three balanced, fresh-cooked meals each school day.
In a tragic yet redemptive update from our Kampala, Uganda program we bring you news of two recently rescued trafficking survivors who are now safe and thriving at our 'She Has Hope' rehabilitation home there. Miraculously, these two young women, age 18 and 22, were rescued during a routine police stop as they were in the process of being trafficked via Kamuli and Jinja making their way east to the Kenya border.
One of the policemen involved in their rescue knows our Kampala Director and his work with trafficking survivors. He gave him a call and referred the girls to the home as their family situations had left them with nowhere else to go. The traffickers had planned to sell them to Kenyan slave traders whose intention was to then sell them for slave labor or perhaps even forced prostitution, in the Middle East. According to the U.S. Department of State's 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, human trafficking is a growing and very serious problem in Uganda.
The report states that despite a ban on recruiting Ugandans for domestic work overseas, licensed and unlicensed agencies circumvented this ban, recruiting for “cleaners” or other trades with the intent of employing women in domestic work. Some Ugandan women fraudulently recruited for employment in the Middle East were exploited in forced prostitution in UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Illegal Kampala-based labor recruiters and brokers also operated in Rwanda, and illegal Nairobi-based recruiters were active in Uganda, recruiting Ugandans and resident Rwandans and Kenyans through fraudulent offers of employment in the Middle East and Asia.
We're very thankful that these young ladies were fortunate enough to avoid such a fate, and are now being equipped with skills that can help them find safe, legitimate jobs in Kampala, or, hopefully, with your support, a chance to start their own businesses using skills they're learning at the home. Please shop for the designs they're learning to make at the rehabilitation home— every purchase generates direct funding for their programs.
If anyone reading this story might have the ability to make a special donation toward moving our home to a higher quality rental home, please contact us. Right now the home is not adequate for our needs and the security of our women. We are seeking to build a fund of at least six months' rent and utilities which comes to about $1,800. With a larger facility, we hope to be able to expand the skill training being offered to the women to include tailoring and hairdressing.
In other news, 143 students enrolled at our "Children's Hope Center" elementary school are starting back to their second semester this coming week after enjoying a 3-week holiday. Before the holiday, thanks to the generosity of our donors, all the children were given the gift of new footwear, a simple necessity that many children of the slum colony where the school is located do not own. Despite the positive progress of education being offered in the colony, the local residents are beset by a multitude of daily challenges for survival. Our Kampala Director, Joseph, shares his burden as a pastor serving the community, in his own words:
This past month we lost one child and it was a very big blow to us as she died because of lack of treatment and floods that affected us so much during this season. It's still raining heavily yet we are not able to provide adequate shelter for these children. So many children are starving and the whole area is affected by frequent flooding. In fact, in this most recent flood a lot of our school materials got destroyed by the waters, yes, it's still a challenge for us yet again. We managed to buy those sandals, we gave out to those children who have nothing to wear for their feet. We have no medical care and it's one of the biggest problems affecting us. If we could have a clinic and have a nurse to help us that would be great. But for now, I am just struggling to feed these children, shelter them, educate them, offer them clothing, and give them medical care. This is a huge responsibility, yet I do not have adequate funding. I wish I had a business that would work better, sometimes I have to beg people to get food for the kids at school and this pains my heart so much that we do not have enough resources.
In yet another kind of miracle, thanks to your support, Joseph is able to take the modest budget we have allocated for him and make it stretch into three meals a day for his 143 students. Granted, the meals consist of only basic staples such as corn, potatoes, rice, and flour made from cassava root. Sugar is added to the cornmeal to make a sweet porridge for breakfast, salted rice and beans are offered for lunch, and potato soup or other potato dishes are offered for dinner before dismissing the children for the day. Sadly, it is not uncommon to see children from the community lined up at the school gate with empty bowls hoping to get leftovers.
We are currently seeking more monthly donors to help us strengthen this program, in its humble beginning stages as an expansion program for us internationally. Our Executive Director, Kirby Trapolino, has visited the school many times and says, "This school and the residents of this slum colony are often on my heart and on my mind. Joseph and his humble team are making the meager monthly funds we've been able to allocate toward his program stretch in seemingly super-human ways. I cannot endorse our team's zeal and integrity enough and I hope and pray that we can increase our monthly pledges to get them to a level where they need to be to adequately serve these they're reaching."
Please do join us in empowering the youth of this colony with education, and hopefully, if fundraising goes well, also a way to empower our local Kampala team with a small business to act as a funding multiplier for their programs. Consider filling a heart on our Monthly Sustainer's "Heart Chart" today. The needs are vast, but when we join together in a consistent way, we can make a lasting and exponential difference in the lives of these children and trafficking survivors.