Katie, a former student of Bideford College, joined Edukid on a trip to Uganda in February 2020. Katie has gone onto volunteer with Edukid in the UK office, and now plans to spend time volunteering in both Edukid’s Cambodia and Uganda projects during her gap year. Here she recalls her time in Uganda:
“On my trip to Uganda in February 2020, I encountered many amazing people, most of which unfairly suffered from some form of grief and poverty. However, for me personally, a particular family I met stood out and their story both devastated me and inspired me in so many ways.
After spending the day in Koch Goma primary school, we met a family of 6 orphans looked after by their elderly Aunt. The children were complete orphans, their father had died of disease, followed by their mother who suffered from Breast cancer. She used to bake pancakes and bread to earn a small income, enough to support her families health, education, and other basic needs. When she became ill she managed to pay for her first cancer treatment, however it spread and she could no longer afford to pay for any further treatment- she died late November 2019. The Aunt took over the care of the children, as well as the care of her son, who also sadly died of disease only a few weeks before our visit- his freshly dug grave sat next to their Banda during our visit.
These children and the Aunt were left in total desperation. They lacked clothes, food and basic essentials, with no way of receiving any income.
After our visit, and witnessing the unbearable grief and trauma this family had suffered, as well as their very apparent ill health, we as a group decided to help. We conversed with Edukid’s Ugandan team who advised on the best way to help with family. We paid for their roof to be fixed and a solar light to be given. We also provided clothing, mattresses, mosquito nets as well as providing 2 chickens, a pair of rabbits and a female goat to ensure the family have a sustainable source of food and livelihood. A doctor was also sent out to assess the familes health- 5/6 of the children and the Aunt were found to be suffering from Malaria, with all of the family also suffering from scabies and stomach worms. They were provided medication. The doctor explained that if the medication was not administered that day over half of this family would probably have been dead by the end of that week, this was truly heartbreaking to hear, and is a statement I will forever think about.
However, despite all the amazing things we were able to provide and help with while in Uganda, we had not finished. All 6 children were of school age, but were unable to afford the fees to go to school. The eldest, Ojok Kennedy, had started school but was pulled out after her mother’s death and the loss of the family’s income, meaning they could no longer afford the school fees. Working with Edukid, we have managed to get 2 of the children sponsored, while we are still currently trying to fundraise and raise awareness to give the other 4 children a chance to access an education they deserve.
The other major barrier the whole family faced was the unbearable trauma and grief they were unfairly suffering, which evidently resulted in them losing all hope. The children were aged 6-13, they couldn’t process their loss, nor go to school to escape the trauma surrounding the Banda they lived in. This grief was especially apparent in the Grandmother, who also felt she couldn’t process the grief of her family because she had to remian strong for her nieces and nephews. She looked both deflated and helpless- an image that has stuck with me. Edukid managed to get continued mentoring for the family through the parent support group. The family have also recently received a bike which will allow them to travel and trade, and earn some income to allow them a more stable future. Edukid are also working to ensure a follow up visit is made to mentor and support the family.
Without Edukid’s support, this family would have been completely destroyed, if not by extreme poverty, then as a result of their poor health and malnutrition.
They now have a chance to raise, rebuild and bring back some hope within their family. The children also have access to an education, which gives them a multitude of opportunities they can access towards a better future for themselves, as well as an opportunity to get a successful job and a chance to escape the poverty trap.
To leave Uganda seeing a smile on the face of a lady who was completely broken, not only made my trip, but is something I will cherish for a lifetime.”