Located in Wakiso District of Central Uganda, Kakiri is a small town with around 6,000 inhabitants. Uganda’s capital, Kampala, is only 20 miles away. Despite being so close to the capital, Kakiri is one of the poorest areas in the country. Agriculture is the main economic activity for most of its residents.
Kakiri’s population is growing rapidly, as people living in more rural areas migrate in the hope of finding work. This influx has resulted in an increase in informal settlements where living conditions are poor and basic services such as sewerage and clean running water are often not available.
Many hazards for Kakiri's children
With many families living at a level well below the poverty line, children are deeply affected. Many do not have access to education or healthcare. It is estimated that some 60,000 children in Wakiso District have lost one parent and 20,000 have lost both. The main cause of this is HIV/AIDS. In Uganda it is customary for orphaned children to be taken in by other family members. However, when poverty is an issue, this is often not possible, since relatives do not have the wherewithal to look after any but their own offspring.
Where members of the extended family are able to look after another child, there is a preference for girls, since they are expected to help in the household and are likely to contribute to the family income by marrying young – almost half of all Ugandan girls marry before their eighteenth birthday. This means that boys are more likely than girls to finish their education. The level of illiteracy and the school drop-out rate is very high amongst girls, in part because of early marriage and pregnancy. Overall, an estimated 50% of the local population do not complete primary schooling.
What are we doing to help?
We began working in Kakiri in 1991 and since then have considerably expanded our activities in the wider community. Our Children’s Village is home to well over 100 children who live in family groupings and are cared for by their SOS Mother.
Our community programme has expanded its work in the wider community year on year, and we now work in three of Wakiso’s parishes supporting around 160 families. In the coming years we will be increasing our efforts further by fostering partnerships and networks of organisation which aim to support and protect children at risk of losing parental care
A brighter future
Our medical centre attends to over 11,000 patients a year. Alongside medical care and preventative medicine, we have established a voluntary testing and counselling centre for those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Our nursery and primary schools provide a safe environment not only for those children whom we look after directly, but also those living in the surrounding area. Our primary school has a school roll of around 500 pupils.
Our care and concern continues well into adulthood. Our youth programme provides support as our young people develop the skills and attitudes necessary to take responsibility for their lives as independent adults.
We have been in Kakiri for over two decades, and we will always be there for those who need a hand to hold.