- 1.8 million Ugandan children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, wars and poverty.
- 10,000 children – often as young as five – leave their villages, lured by stories of a better life in the big cities.
- Once there, however, a harsh reality awaits resulting in them:
- Rummaging through trash for food
- Sleeping in tunnels or on folded cardboard boxes
- Hiding from bigger kids who may beat them or the police who may put them in jail.
- Education is not an option, food is sporadic at best, and a pair of shoes is a luxury
More on Why the Need
Throughout the world children live on their own without adults to care for them. According to UNICEF, as many as one quarter of the world’s children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labor as a way to survive. Their classroom is life on the street.
Children turn to street life for many reasons. In Uganda, with its past history of brutal regimes, internal wars, HIV/AIDS, and abject poverty, at least 1.8 million children have been orphaned. Once orphaned, they often experience abuse, neglect or abandonment at the hand of stepparents or other family members. They may make their way from villages to cities such as Kampala, the capital of Uganda, looking for a chance at a better existence. Instead, what they find are other street children, and hunger, abuse, violence, and disease become part of their new life.
It is estimated that as many as 10,000 children live on the streets of Kampala. Formal education is non-existent for them, and they have no access to health care. Survival becomes the all-consuming challenge for children as young as 4 years old. Some children may have a parent who can provide shelter at night, but not school fees or enough food to keep hunger at bay. These children also spend their days on the street, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Lack of access to formal education is apparent throughout Ugandan society. While 80% of the population has some exposure to primary (elementary) education, only 25% complete this basic level of education. And only 20% of Ugandans attend secondary (high) school.
The plight of Kampala’s street children inspired the founding of Jajja’s Kids. The backgrounds of the children now in our home are representative of poor and orphaned Ugandan children. Our children’s stories include:
- A child taken to the streets by his mother because his father had died of HIV and the new husband refused to take responsibility for the child;
- A 4 year old left alone for days at Christmas while the father looked for work;
- A young boy abused both physically and mentally by the stepmother, resulting in long term psychological damage for the boy;
- A girl unable to continue her education because her father chose to support only his second family and not the family he had abandoned.
For the first time in their lives, the children in Jajja’s Kids home now get three meals a day, a stable and loving home, and a steady education. The parents still in touch with their child are deeply grateful for the opportunities Jajja’s Kids has provided, knowing that their child now has a chance for a brighter future.