The police have cited the eastern region of Uganda as having the highest incidence of child sacrifice cases; with police chief Moses Binonga blaming the high infiltration of unregistered healers. With little protection or justice from the authorities, communities like Masese II were seemingly powerless.
Our pilot Child Protection Team (CPT) was created at the height of a local killing spate in July 2012. Through workshops they raised awareness on the issue of child sacrifice, tackling the beliefs, mindsets and behaviour that sustain the practice. They created productive livelihoods to ensure parents could afford to send their children to school and keep them safe throughout the day.
What they also needed was to create a strong safety net within the community, and ensure people had easy access to the police. To resource them in doing this they identified some simple, low cost items:
Attackers started to realise they would easily get caught if they tried anything in that area. All of these measures resulted in the complete eradication of incidents in Masese II in the last 3 years.
Francis from the Masese II CPT says “We used loudspeakers to warn if there was a stranger in the area being suspicious and bikes to go straight to the police. With child sacrifice, there used to be an abduction every month, now children can walk about safely.”
Clearly Wellington boots are not the standalone hero of the picture. It took a detailed and thorough strategy to create the impact the team had in eradicating the number of abductions. What the boots represent however is how, with the backing of the community, huge transformation can be made with simple, low-cost resources.
The team requested loudspeakers rather than phones and bicycles rather than jeeps. Not only do these simple measures work, but they can be replicated across wider areas at low cost.
Since beginning work in the wider district, every CPT has been resourced with the same items. This sustainable model gives a great return on investment, which is why Children on the Edge are looking to scale up across the country in many needy communities that are vulnerable to child sacrifice.
More recently each CPT has been provided with a small hut to use as a base in each community. This means local people have a central place to go to if they need to find a team member at any time, and the team has a place to store records and resources.