Uganda (MNN) — For Every Child Ministries (ECM), this month marks the launch of a new child sponsorship program, Karamoja Homeland Project, in Uganda.
“We have been working many years with Karamoja kids, who had come to Kampala for various reasons. Sometimes they were trafficked, sometimes their mother would bring them to the big city looking for a better life, work, or whatever she could to help raise her family. And many of these kids ended up to be street kids,” explains Mark Luckey with ECM.
But rather than continuing to work with these broken families in the context of Kampala, ECM wanted to go straight to the source: the homeland.
“We began to look at starting a project in Karamoja, where these kids are coming from. If we could help the families, do community development, do spiritual development, get the kids in school, do anything we could to keep the kids in a better environment at home, then they wouldn’t be making that trip to Kampala, which almost always turned out poorly for both the kids and the mother,” says Luckey.
Yet, an idea seems to always work better in theory than it does in reality. For ECM, it’s been a long process with many obstacles to make the Karamoja Homeland project come alive.
ECM has had to jump over hurdles ranging from finances to figuring out how to get people on the ground in Karamoja.
“We’re sending staff to live in this area, and it’s not easy. It’s not the city where things are close by and they can get what they need,” explains Luckey. Sometimes, the area is too difficult for staff to adjust to.
Furthermore, the area is very poor. “Uganda has a lot of poor people. There’s nothing new about that. But the Karimojong are some of the poorest. They were kind of nomadic, cattle herders; they would move around traditionally from place to place and not own land,” says Luckey.
However, even just convincing the people of an education’s value has been a tough sell. With many tribal and nomadic people groups, value is placed on agriculture and livestock. So when given the choice to send a child away to school or have the child help tend the family cattle, a parent’s choice is usually the latter.
Still, there are many kids who are taking part in the partnership. Currently, six kids are being sponsored out of eleven. But since it takes two donors to fully sponsor a kid, 10-15 donors are still needed to send all to of these kids to school.
When kids are fully sponsored, each has the opportunity not only to attend school, but to have the clothes and supplies to do so. Furthermore, the kids receive a good meal every day. And, as they get older, they’ll have opportunities for vocational activities to help them one day find work and be able to support themselves.
One of the best parts of this sponsorship program is that these kids have an opportunity to hear the Gospel and meet Jesus.
“They get spiritual guidance. We do a weekly Bible club and kind of a fun activity type of situation on Saturdays, where they can go and just be with the other kids, enjoy, [and] have fun being a kid. [They] learn from the Bible but also [from] hands-on activities,” explainsLuckey.
So why not help the Karamoja Homeland Project get off the ground and make difference in numerous peoples’ lives. Here are some ways to help:
Please pray for the success and the impact of the Karamoja Homeland Project. Also, pray for the people who are there serving, to be strong in this critical ministry.