“Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience,” writes Thomas Sowell in the National Review. The man said, “Please do not do any more good in my country. We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done.” Sowell says that is essentially the theme of Riley’s book about blacks in the U.S. “Policies designed to help are in fact harmful sometimes, devastatingly so.”
Uganda has been a free nation since October 1962 when independence from Britain was finalized. Political upheavals, wars, and an AIDS epidemic swept through the nation, leaving Uganda with one of the highest orphan populations. Many “PUSH” factors resulted in kids living on the streets, including war and violence, abuse, family instability, neglect, loss of parental control, rebellion, poverty, and orphanhood.
But the Ugandan government also became very concerned with the “PULL” factors. As well-meaning charities and NGOs came in to help, government officials recognized a growing culture of entitlement and dependency. In 1999, for example, the government established strict guidelines saying that all those who work with street children should avoid giving “handouts.” It further urged that if handouts were given, they “must be linked to learning or work experience, which contributes to the rehabilitation of the street child.” In this way they hoped to limit the PULL factor and prevent more kids from living on the streets.
UOF’s aim is to equip the kids in our care with more than an education. We want them to have many life skills and a viable trade so they can launch into adult life prepared for its challenges.
UOF’s work is NOT a handout. When Founder, Duncan Hill, met with an official lady in the government’s education department, she applauded our efforts to help kids achieve a secondary level education, as high school is not a free public program yet. Still, she insisted that every child learn some kind of trade to ensure they’d have a way to make a living. He agreed and thanks to our sponsors, many kids will go on to trade schools after completing high school.
Some of our kids work in the maize mill on site in Kasozi Village. Others have gone to tailoring school, commercial truck driving school, catering school, hotel management school, and other such programs that prepare them for actual jobs.
All the kids at Kasozi Village take turns working in the garden, learning to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some kids are learning the requirements of animal husbandry. The village has cows, goats, and chickens. The kids often help the veterinarian when he comes to work on the animals.
Since the inception of our sponsorship program in November 2013, families throughout America have sponsored over 100 children. Letters have been exchanged, school fees have been paid, and the overall effect of forming this connection is priceless…a vulnerable child gains love and acceptance and the confidence that someone is standing with them in life.
Pam Dolan, a local teacher who recently volunteered at Kasozi Village for a month, put it this way:
“The kids meet nightly to pray and thank God. They are full of appreciation and joy for being alive, safe, cared for, and loved. On my last days at Kasozi, I found myself looking across the faces and landscape where the miracle of restoration has occurred. I thought of Jeremiah 29:11-13…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”