Children on the Edge exists for those children who live on the edge of their societies. We continually search out those children who are forgotten, those who are surviving without support in extreme circumstances. For this reason we are expanding again in Uganda this year, sharing our successful Child Protection Model in more slum areas around Jinja, and further afield.
Katooke slum is a small slum community of just over 1,200 people. It is situated next to the football stadium in Kampala, and the main income of its residents comes from picking and selling scrap from the huge rubbish site that dominates the area.
We were asked to get involved here, due to reports of a high number of abandoned children. The Chairperson, who recently arranged a televised documentary about the area said “People here have lost hope and they no longer care about life. This affects how they care for their children”.
Our team in Uganda (Children on the Edge Africa) have begun assessing the needs in Katooke, starting out with talking to the children. We put children at the heart of all we do, and see them not as passive recipients of aid, but as agents of change in their own futures. It is essential that when we begin work in a new area, it is the children themselves who tell us about any problems they are facing.
Last week, we organised a needs assessment with a large group of children from Katooke. We split them into two groups according to age, with 25 participants in the younger group (age 8-12) and 30 in the older group (age 13-15).
Younger group drawing out their local area using local materials to identify key places.
The younger group drew out their local area using materials such as grass, stones, sticks and plastic tins to identify key places.
The older group collected sticks, stones and rubbish from the area and created a circle on the ground to represent the community. Both groups were identifying areas they felt were safe or unsafe, and describing why.
What we thought was a case of 50 abandoned children, turned out to be a lot more complex. Many of the children are here voluntarily, although they have often run away from home because of abuse.
Around 20 of the older boys described how they actually sleep in the rubbish, and with no affordable school and no health centre, children here are very much left to fend for themselves.
Sleeping outside makes children feel fearful, and they are prone to mosquito bites and malaria, with no nets to protect them. Most of the children (aged between 7-17) have to pick rubbish in order to eat, and most eat only once a day.
There are no latrines, and very poor drainage systems. As the community is on a steep hill, those living at the bottom of the hill are flooded by water that is severely contaminated with faeces, causing widespread illness.
The rubbish pit where the children work is full of broken plastic, wood and other sharp materials that they cut themselves on. All these objects are obviously dirty, so many fall sick as a result of the work.
Sarah Ndlovu our Grants Officer is currently in Uganda, developing our Monitoring and Evaluation, she said “We saw children as young as three picking scrap and weighing it to sell (1 kilo of rubbish, gets only 800 shillings – about 17p). Child abuse levels are also very high with 45% of adults admitting to beating their children”
Over the next few months, the Children on the Edge Africa team will be building relationships and trust in the Katooke community, and looking to work with the existing Child Protection Committee to ensure that the very best services are given to children.
Our social worker, Babra, will also be delivering a series of child protection workshops. Click the buttons below to find out more about our work and keep in touch with all that’s going on.