When we first visited Uganda, children in Masese II, a slum just outside Jinja, were at risk of malnutrition, abuse and child sacrifice. Brewing and distilling alcohol in dangerous and unlicensed breweries was the area's primary economic activity and conditions in the slum were appalling. Children were being exposed to extreme hazards around the brewing areas and were even fed the dregs of the alcohol mix.
With no place to go throughout the day, children were extremely vulnerable. Child abuse was common and continual exposure to inebriated men and prostitution left children at greater risk of abuse and HIV.
Child sacrifice was a growing issue in the Masese II community, and children left unattended throughout the day, or wandering any distance from home, were at risk. With no productive livelihoods, no access to education or healthcare, widespread malnutrition and no safe place to play and simply enjoy being children, there was little hope for the children who live here.
Through establishing a Child and Community Centre together with the Adolescent Development Support Network (ADSN), we provided early years education for children under 5 and educational support for children of primary school age. This Centre also provided nutritious meals in order to reduce child malnutrition and improve health.
A Child Protection Team (CPT) mobilised local people to care for their children more effectively and receive support and advice on parenting, health, nutrition and preventing abuse. The area is now cleaner, child abuse has lessened and incidents of child sacrifice have been eradicated for over 3 years.
Vulnerable households began to meet their own needs through the agricultural component of the project. This included micro-finance schemes, comprehensive agricultural training, land and inputs. With this alternative to providing income and sourcing nutritious food, 9 out of the 14 breweries have now closed down.
After the success of this pilot project we maintain support of the Child Protection Team here and have passed on the management of other elements of the project to local partners.
The Masese II Child Protection Team are instrumental in helping us train up new teams as we replicate this work in the wider district. We are currently focussing on the neighbouring communities of Loco, Masese I, and Masese III.
The Body Shop At Home™ has been awarded this year’s DSA Company with Heart Award for their work with Children on the Edge.
Each year the DSA (Direct Selling Association) hosts industry awards and this award is in recognition of a Member company that has gone the extra mile through the philanthropic activities, charitable impact and community engagement.
The Body Shop At Home™ is the direct selling arm of The Body Shop®, a global beauty brand built on making people feel so good – face, body and soul. This company strives to make a positive difference in the world and supporting Children on the Edge is one of the ways they bring this commitment to life.
Children on the Edge was co-founded by Anita Roddick over 25 years ago. She always believed that business should be about public good not public greed and since the outset her company has supported the work we do.
They have raised huge amounts over this time, and over £270k in the past three years alone. The recent fundraising focus has been on providing support for Ugandan children living in appalling conditions in Soweto Slum, Jinja. Throughout this time they have contributed towards incredible community transformation through the establishment of a safe children’s education Centre, a Child Protection Team, flourishing agricultural schemes and small business loans.
Building on this success they are now supporting Children on the Edge to replicate this work in the wider region, bringing change on a bigger scale.
We are delighted The Body Shop At Home™ has been recognised in this way as they truly are a company with heart.
Are you a consultant with The Body Shop At Home™ ? Click here to get involved.
Since 2013, Tony Maxse has organised a series of beautiful walking events, in loving memory of Georgina Maxse. This year’s event had 60 participants, walking over five days and raising over £4,700 for our work with forgotten children across the world and another £4,748 for the Institute of Cancer Research.
Chris Taylor, an ambassador for Children on the Edge describes this year’s journey:
“On a very rainy and windy Wednesday morning 35 walkers met in a carpark near East Dean to walk 10.5 miles around Beachy Head. This was the start of 5 circular walks starting in East Sussex and ending in Bepton in West Sussex. This was a continuation of an annual fund raising walk set up by Tony Maxse over 20 years ago. The walk was originally 100 miles long but now to take account of age and ease of organisation they have become circular walks.
This hardy bunch set off and were blessed with gradual lifting of the mist and easing of the wind. We even managed to have lunch on the cliff tops below Beachy Head in the sunshine. The afternoon proved to be particularly tough, as we headed straight back into the wind. Despite this most people made it back to the carpark in one piece.
The second day we met at The Devil’s Dyke, on top of the Downs above Hove. This proved to be a tough walk with a punishing climb back up to the finish. However, we were rewarded with far reaching views during the walk, seeing 5 counties from the top of Wolstonbury Hill and enjoyed an excellent pub lunch.
On Friday we had a delightful walk around Petworth, meeting at Bignor Farm, where we were given coffee by Edward and Linda Way. Ben Wilkes from Children on the Edge joined us on the walk and impressed everyone by cycling to the beginning of the walk from Chichester and home again at the end of the walk. We meandered through beautiful countryside to The Horse Guards at Tillington for lunch. They looked after us superbly and won the best lunch of the walk award comfortably. After lunch we went through the Upperton and Nyetimber vineyards and on through Petworth Park ending back at Bignor Farm for a wonderful tea provided by Linda Way. Ben gave a short talk about Children on the Edge that put our efforts into perspective, showing that our contribution really does make a difference.
Saturday saw us on top of The Downs meeting below the Trundle by Goodwood race course. The weather was favourable once more and after climbing in the morning we were rewarded with magnificent views north and a picnic lunch in the sun. The afternoon was beautiful in the folds of the Downs with a final burst down the home straight at Goodwood to finish. Euan Clarke, who head’s up the Ambassador team for Children on the Edge, joined us for the day. He spoke personally to many of the walkers, informing them about the work that Children on the Edge do.
The final day started in Bepton and took us up the Downs once more, past Barn owls and Sparrow hawks. Lunch was taken at The Royal Oak in Hooksway and we were able to eat outside. The walk home was blessed with stunning views over Treyford and we returned to Sally and Brian Marien’s house for a celebratory tea with mountains of delicious food and copious cups of tea”.
Our Head of UK Ben Wilkes said “It was great to talk to many of the walkers and experience the wonderful community that the Maxse walk has created. We are bowled over by the incredible amount of money they have raised for Children on the Edge by participating in the walk. They are all very kind hearted individuals and together make a huge difference to the lives of the children who through no fault of their own find themselves ‘on the edge’.
To date the Maxse Walks have raised £506,412 for various charitable projects. Organiser Sally Marion says “Lets go for the million!”. Watch this space for a change to join the Maxse group next year.
If you'd like to fundraise for Children on the Edge, have a look at some ideas on our website, and contact Eloise Armstrong.
As part of the overall aim of creating a safe environment for children in Loco, Masese I and Masese II slum communities, the Child Protection Teams in each area have facilitated a second round of community sensitisation workshops, these ones focussing on addressing and preventing domestic violence.
Over 260 men and women across the communities attended after requests for training on this subject had been sent by their community representatives. They were speaking on behalf of many caregivers who had been suffering domestic abuse, and were also recognising how badly it was affecting their children.
Each workshop aimed to develop a common understanding about the definition of domestic violence in all its forms and to promote discussion about what it is, how to prevent it and how to protect children from its affects.
In each area, discussion was held about the objectifying of women in Uganda, and the limitations of several bills that have been drafted to address issues of domestic violence. The communities worked together to identify warning signs that a child could be witnessing violence in their home environment and what the consequences can be for children both in the short and longer term.
Each community then mapped out ideas about how to tackle the problem in the future, identifying how they need better support from government services, continuing training in awareness, the addressing of corruption in courts and support in improving relationships at home.The workshop leaders also gave information about the channels to go through to report domestic abuse.
The chairman of Loco Community, Mr. Wandega thanked Children on the Edge Africa saying “Ever since COTE Africa started conducting sensitization workshops in my community, I feel they have brought impact because the number of reported cases at central police station have started dropping”. He described how this was a sign that the community were putting into practice what they explore in the workshops.
Workshops on different issues are being run in each community every month and this week COTE Africa are running it’s first playscheme for children in Loco community.
Find out more about the communities in Uganda
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When we started work in Masese II (Soweto) there were 14 breweries in the slum and many mothers worked at them for a very low wage. Black, toxic sludge ran in streams from these places, which were situated every 15-20 metres. The smoke was acrid and the sludge pits had no fences. There were many reports of children falling into these pits in fatal accidents, or suffering the result of exploding canisters of hot liquid. Some children were fed the dregs of the alcohol mix. If children weren't present at these dangerous breweries, they would be left home alone throughout the day.
One of the ways this was tackled was the provision of micro loans. The team here call them ‘education loans’, because they are given with the aim of helping parents to afford to send their children to school.
The most vulnerable households were identified by the Child Protection Team and invited to apply with a basic business plan. They were then given training and a small loan, worth around £20, to start their own business. Once their business was well established and they had earned a reasonable amount, they paid back the loan with a small amount of interest so the money was available for somebody else.
As women gradually developed the means to create their own positive sources of income, the breweries started to topple. Within three years the number of breweries in the slum dropped from 14 to 1.
One mother called Katherine started with her first loan selling vegetables, she paid it back, then got another to start her out with a standpipe selling water. She then paid back the second loan and applied for another loan to build two rooms to rent. Katherine is now a successful business woman. Each time she has borrowed, she has paid back more into the fund which has then gone to other people in need.
Due to the prevalence of AIDS in the area there are many grandparent headed households. Some grandmothers in the area look after up to 13 children in one small hut and have no means of creating an income, let alone send their children to school. Using the education loan system, a group of four grandmothers pooled their loans and started a pottery cooperative.
The group soon grew to 10 women who met together every week to work together purifying clay taken from the Nile riverbed. Over time the group has grown to 42, they have a booming business and have made enough money to pay for better clay, their own kiln and a pottery wheel.
This is just one example of hundreds of cases where small loans in this slum community have enabled vulnerable households to gain a productive source of income and send their children to school.
When previously all there was throughout the area were toxic breweries, now the community is buzzing with many small industries. There are stalls that sell vegetables, kale, berries, cabbage, fruit, stalls selling cooked food, stalls selling water from standpipes and more importantly than this, there are a great many more children going to school.
Since the success of education loans in Masese II, Child Protection teams have been introducing the scheme into three new areas; Loco, Masese I and Masese III.