In these unusual and uncertain times, we hope that you are all safe and managing to adjust to a different way of life for now. Our UK office shut at the end of March and all of our staff have been working remotely from home since then. We are doing our best to keep the organisation running as normal despite not being in the same office together, things feel different but we have been trying to keep connected! Because we are working from home, this may mean that we are slightly slower to respond to enquiries, especially answering any post, so please do bear with us. If you have any questions about anything at any time, please do feel free to pick up the phone or drop us an email – we would love to hear from you.
At the end of March the Ugandan government took the decision to close all schools and public meetings in Uganda to keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. With heavy hearts, we have temporarily had to close our Encouraging Education project; all sponsored children are now back home and out of school; and all of our Saturday Kids Clubs, football training and volunteer meetings are suspended for now. It is absolutely heart-breaking to have to do this but we have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable children and families we are supporting, to follow government advice, to try to save lives.
Although some of our projects have closed, we are still very much at work in Uganda. Hundreds of children depend on us every day to have their basic needs met and to have a safe place to go to, and the majority of children who attend our feeding project eat just one meal a day. All of our sponsored children are from extremely poor households who will struggle to feed their children now that schools are closed and they won’t be eating lunch at school. The slums of Kampala are notorious for violent crime and abuse, and we are concerned what will happen to our children now that our centres our closed and they don’t have a safe space to come to, they don’t have a structure to their day, and they don’t have food to eat. Because of this, we are still running our vital work just in a different way. Instead of hundreds of children coming to our Feeding Project every day, we are regularly distributing food parcels to these children and their families. We are increasing our safeguarding efforts to make sure children are kept safe from harm during this time. We have installed handwashing stations in communities, and have been using this time whilst our classrooms are closed to carry out vital work such as building toilets to try to make the slums safer and more sanitary places to live. Our Ewafe Project Home has remained open and we have increased the amount of food available to provide for the additional kids at the home and not at school during this time. We are proud to continue our vital work and to be putting your generous donations to good use to ensure that the most vulnerable children are still supported, kept safe and fed at this time.
In May we launched our Feeding Families: Emergency COVID-19 Appeal to raise money for our food banks. I have been blown away by the support received, and the sheer numbers of people who have made a donation. Every pound received makes a huge difference and I cannot thank you enough.
The situation in Uganda is really tough and the situation in the slums is really, really tough. As the lock down continues, families are slipping further into poverty. Our team in Uganda knows of at least 3 children who have died of starvation, and we are getting increasing calls and referrals regarding safeguarding concerns.
We were initially expecting to be feeding around 1000 families a week through our food banks. When they opened we quickly realised that this was much more likely to be around 3000 families and the demand has been ever increasing. So far we have fed almost 25,000 families – that is over 100,000 people provided with food who otherwise would have gone hungry! We have given out 214,389 food parcels to date – which would not have been possible without the kind support of everyone who has donated to our emergency appeal.