Hope St partner, Hope Focus Uganda, works on their city streets mentoring at-risk children. They focus on rescuing, rehabilitating, and reconciling children with their extended families. They also provide nurturing homes for children at risk of being trafficked. Some children run to the streets thinking life there will be better than in their violent or neglectful homes. Others are sent to the streets by families to sell produce or earn money, with parents often unaware the children will be at risk of sex trafficking or being sold as cheap labour. The Hope Focus team has sent us an update on what is happening in their city and district, and the risks children on the streets face. Let’s hear directly from them, the people who know these streets and are passionate to help these children and their families, striving to reduce the risks the children face.
‘Economically, Uganda is experiencing high inflation rates and increased crime. The number of child hawkers in the city is increasing day by day. Some as young as six years have hit the streets and markets, to sell vegetables, fruits, and other foodstuffs. The vulnerable children on the streets interviewed by Hope Focus say that they are not going to school because of the increased family poverty levels due to high inflation. Their parents cannot afford to pay school fees and other basic needs. A number of the children say their parents give them the items to sell on the streets, and they take the money home. One girl aged 13 years says that engaging in petty trade is her only source of survival. Most of the vulnerable children have run from rural areas to escape domestic violence, corporal punishment, sexual harassment or outright neglect by parents or guardians. Some of them think it is better to be on the street than face mistreatment at home. But there are also those attracted by colleagues who have spent a lot of time in street life.’
‘Street peer group influence has caused children to lose their moral character. Today in most local communities, young children from age of 9 years indulge in night discos and theft. Early relationships expose children to risks such as teenage pregnancies. Life on the streets exposes vulnerable street children to high risks, such as child labour, sexual harassment, trafficking, early marriages, etc.
What Hope Focus is doing
‘Hope Focus Uganda is working with the Police Child Protection Unit, remaining vigilant and addressing cases of child abuse in accordance with the law. Vulnerable street children remain a matter of concern, being one of the community’s social problems.
Hope Focus Uganda support at-risk children through counselling and guidance. In 2022 we counselled many children on the streets, forming special relationships with 6 children – two boys and four girls. One girl was reconciled with her family and was able to go back to school. We would take the other five children into the Hope Focus home if we had the funding. Those already in the Hope Focus program, rescued from the streets in previous years, are gaining their full potential through education, learning skills, health care, counselling, guidance and so on.
We send our sincere greetings to you all in New Zealand for the generosity and love that you have tirelessly shown towards Hope Focus Uganda to foresee that the lives of vulnerable street children are changed positively. Our appreciation goes to everyone in your various capacities. We shall always remain humbled by your efforts.
The Hope Focus team’
Hope St support
Hope St’s heart is for the vulnerable. We exist to give children and communities in the most vulnerable circumstances hope for the future, especially those at risk of neglect, trafficking or exploitation. Children on the streets of Uganda are neglected, and at high risk of trafficking and exploitation. They are also not receiving some basic human rights such as education, food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Supporting Hope Focus’ work with these at-risk children on the streets fits with Hope St’s mission, values and approach. They share our heart, vision and values.
Hope St has supported Hope Focus for twelve years now. We’ve funded the purchase and renovations of a safe home for the children, and the running costs of the program, education, health care, mentoring and life skills, street counselling and community awareness programs.
Through Hope St grants, 44 children have accessed the Hope Focus Uganda rescued street children program. Another three children who were living on the streets have been reconciled with their families without needing to enter the live-in program. Twenty young men and women have graduated from the program with skills to earn a living – two carpenters, one builder, two electricians, one weaver, twelve tailors, one motorcycle mechanic and one driver. This is the change Hope Focus works to see. And it is our privilege and pleasure to continue connecting you to these local heroes doing the work of transformation in their communities.
Photo: a young boy selling avocado juice on the street in Uganda, talking to a Hope Focus social worker.