How lovely is it again to convey warm greetings to you our esteemed partners, friends and sponsors. The children and staff do appreciate your unwavering role in the care and sustainability of Lulwanda Children’s Home. Hopefully you are fine on that side of the continent. We pray that God gives you abundant life. We have been fine with sound health and mind, children are growing every day and we are grateful to God for the good health and gift of life that He has bestowed upon us. Let me report to you the happenings that took place in the month of September 2016. (This month was largely holiday time due to school break between 2nd and 3rd term and we had lots of activities and fun).
The start of the holiday witnessed our older children mainly from Secondary schools go for a Christian youth conference dubbed “YOUTH ABLAZE” in one of the local churches (Pearl Haven Christian Centre) for intuitive, definitive Bible study, wonderful worship and electrifying praise songs since the youth are full of energy. We had a total of 34 children, who were in the company of House Mother Agnes, teacher Favor, teacher Amon, William and Natalie. The kids interacted with other children from as far as Kampala. There were also those from Seroma Christian High School, where we initially had some of our children. They greatly enjoyed the conference. They even had “The Sermon on the Mount” where they walked outside Mbale town to one of the hills at the slopes of Mt. Elgon. What was most exciting was that these participants were given new bibles at the end of the conference. This in an annual event and hopefully next year we shall sponsor our children to go again.
We also had an elaborate re-settlement and family re-Integration talk in the first Saturday of the holiday to explain to all of the children these 2 very important programs.
We took time to tell all the children that re-settlement is a government program in conjunction with Child Fund and US AID. GICF USA and we at Lulwanda do not consider this process to be the best way to transition children from Lulwanda into the Ugandan culture at large. But we must of course follow the directions of the Ministry of Social Development, and therefore, each year we expect a few children to be re-settled under this program.
The mission statement of GICF is “Establishing sustainable loving homes for orphans in East Africa that develop children to reach their full potential.” The primary difference between “resettlement” and “family re-integration” is that resettlement involves placing a child with a relative in their home village on relatively short notice, which ends the involvement and support of LCH and prevents LCH from ensuring that the child has indeed reached his or her full potential. Family re-integration involves developing the child’s relationship with relatives and their home village over time (years) while remaining at LCH and pursuing education and “life skills” to develop the child to his or her full potential. In both re-settlement and family re-integration, the child will only be relocated to their home village if there is a parent or other living relative who is able and willing to give appropriate care to the child.
We told them that under the re-settlement program when a child is resettled to their home village, that marks the end of involvement and support from GICF USA and Lulwanda Children’s Home.
Family Re-Integration, on the other hand, means that a child is re-integrated with the relative or surviving parent (or relative over a period of time), with the child remaining in LCH and with the child’s education being optimized to achieve their full potential. In contrast to re-settlement which could happen at any time, family re-integration will only be considered at three particular milestones: upon completion of P7, completion of S4, or completion of S6.
Depending upon the grades achieved, children may be eligible for post-secondary schooling such as trade school or University. (The children are coming to understand this requirement of good grades and it is a strong incentive to work hard and do well at school.) In general, GICF USA / Lulwanda Children’s Home will pay for tuition and other academic related fees but feeding, clothing, accommodation will be the responsibility of the care givers. This is intended to make the care givers also play a role in the upbringing of their child. The administration of Lulwanda (not the children or their families) will determine which universities or trade schools to take the children to.
We also told the children that Tendo will be a two year program. Moving from LCH to Tendo will be based on reaching age 18, not on completion of S.4 as we did with the first group of children. Therefore once a child reaches age 18, there will be a transition from Lulwanda Children’s Home to Tendo. After 2 years at Tendo, a child will move to live with their family while attending a university or a trade school (with GICF paying for tuition and other fees).
After the completion of university or trade school, then GICF USA will support that child for one extra year (living costs only, while they look for a job) and that will mark the end of support and involvement. The kind and amount of support will be decided by G.I.C.F USA and LMC /Lulwanda management team. GICF will not support children beyond the age of 21.
The children were very interested in this discussion, and asked many good questions.
We also had a full day for counseling and guidance for the older children. The topics ranged from career choice, sex, alcohol, drug abuse and academics. We had three counselors; two were secondary school teachers and a senior counselor from Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. They covered a number of aspects with our children, and the children also took part, presenting from different groups that had been formed. Several questions were asked as well by the children. We intend to have more of these counseling sessions with our children (especially during holidays) so that they can be morally and academically motivated citizens who can be the agents to advocate for change and improvement in the societies they will live and work in.
We had several holiday activities in this month of September. Among them included: the on campus bible studies for different classes every Tuesday and Thursday, women’s bible studies every Thursday, soccer for both boys and girls, volleyball, basketball, visiting the babies home at St. Kizito by our older children, teaching the girls how to prepare traditional local Ugandan dishes and baking lessons. These were quite interactive and all-participatory for the children and few selected staff. Great appreciation goes to the house mothers, Natalie, teacher Betty, and Bobbi for the ideas and insight into these skills development activities.
Birthday celebrations were held in the month of September. As usual the day began with a lovely meal involving meat and rice. The actual program began at 2:00 pm where children gathered in the main hall for a time. Lots of games, fun and dancing took place. This time around we had arm wrestling and eating contests.
We are working on landscaping around Lulwanda Children’s Home. We are trucking in tons of soil so that we can level the area between the boy’s and girl’s dormitory and the farm. Once leveled, we intend to plant grass in that area. This will cover the rocks around that area and it will also make the compound look green in the long run just like the buildings. We also intend to plant some short trees to provide shades and resting places during hot seasons.
The climax of September was Natalie’s send off party that was both exciting and sad at the same time. The staff contributed for the purchase of her outfit, the shoes, accessories and the handbag. That was their contribution and appreciation for the good work she has done for close to a decade. A very nice meal was prepared, soda was in plenty, and we had a very delicious cake baked by our own Mercy, Rachael, Doreen, and Sylivia. The function was graced by Pastor Morris Ogenga. Speaker after speaker talked wonderfully about her. She was presented with gifts by the children and of course tears could not be avoided from most of the children and some staff members. After presentations, there was dancing, merry-making and taking lots of photographs.
Natalie has faithfully served Lulwanda with a devoted heart and she gave it her best. The children and staff will miss her dearly. The good news she mentioned to me was that some supporters are willing to sponsor her round trip to Uganda once in a while. We are optimistic that we shall at least be seeing her occasionally and not miss her completely. We continue to pray for her and wish her the best in life, God’s providence and protection.
Schools opened for their last academic term on September 26th. We have a total of 32 children who will be sitting their national exams starting in the month of October. In P.7 we have 13, in S.4 we have 12 and in S.6 we have 07. In the next report, I will give you the names and the schools. Other classes will be seating for promotional exams as well.
I want to thank our dear sponsors and all those who make a financial sacrifice to support these children so that they are armed with the best tool to fight ignorance and reach their full potential. Thank you so much.
In His Name
MUSAGALA SIMON PETER