Emily’s Story

by | Oct 26, 2017

A modern-day inspiration

Ray of Hope started in a very humble way on the veranda of Mr and Mrs (Emily) Hashima’s home in Namuwongo. When they moved in, their home was new and the construction was incomplete. There was no fence at the time and everything taking place could be seen by the passers-by.

In her own words

I am a mother to four biological children and a teacher by profession. When we moved to Namuwongo, one of the things that shocked me most was the number of children that came every morning knocking at people’s gates. In a short time, these children would come out carrying loads in sacks and polythene bags. I always wondered what they were carrying and when they realised our house was occupied, they started knocking at our door and its then that  I realised that they were carrying garbage. There was a garbage disposal crisis in Namuwongo and the children who were not in school used this opportunity to earn a shilling or get some food for their service.

I became inquisitive as to why these children were not in school since there was a government programme to cater for all primary school age children to be enrolled in the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme.  I took interest to inquire from the children why they were not in school and I was told they lacked school fees. I went ahead to find out if there was a school in the neighbourhood that offered the UPE programme and indeed there was one school, Kisugu Church of Uganda primary school however upon inquiry I found that the pupils had to pay some fees, which was Ugx 10,000 /= at the time as well as other requirements like uniform, black shoes and socks which were mandatory.

This programme was very helpful to low-income earners but a good number of children was still left out. I did not set out to start a project but to help a few children linking them to projects that would help them. I thought I could be a voice to speak for them and after they were absorbed I could then continue with my life. Little did I know, there was no going back.

I visited several children programmes that offered assistance to vulnerable children but I did not succeed in having the group I had absorbed into these programmes. Most of the projects had financial constraints and they were also overwhelmed by the number of children that needed help.

I had been talking to the children about connecting them and praying that very soon they would be enrolled in school but it dawned on me that it was not happening!.

The group of children I had at the time were street children who were very unruly and uncultured. They were not used to being under authority and issues of discipline were out of their context.  They threw stones at passengers, used vulgar language and stole from us as well as the neighbours. The neighbours raised concerns on these issues and the local authorities had to intervene.

At this point, we had to think of moving the children’s programme from home, make it formal, register it and set up an office thus RAY OF HOPE was born.

By and large, through the help and love of many good Samaritans, Ray of Hope has touched hundreds of children, women and families in Namuwongo and the neighbouring villages.

Currently, services offered include;

Education

Free Education for young children (Nursery – Primary 4) at Ray of Hope learning centre. Ray of hope school has a nursery section and a primary section. A child spends one year in the nursery program then joins primary section for 4yrs. We boast of primary 4 which started this year and with the help of friends of Ray of Hope we are hoping to move to a bigger facility where we can have our full primary section running from primary 1 to primary 7 (p1 to p7). Currently, Friends of Ray of Hope is fundraising to make this big dream come true!

The school has 146 children and five teachers. Children are offered a mid-day meal at the school courtesy of friends of ROH. We have five teachers at the learning centre. The day to day running of the educational programme is made possible by support from Friends of Ray of Hope as well as salaries for all the staff.

Sponsorship

Child Sponsorship for children from Primary 5 to university with the support of our partners and sponsors. This is mainly done through the one on one where a child is supported by a particular sponsor or through the General fund where some children are catered for by contributions from different people pooled together.

Family and school visits are done as a way of follow-up on the wellbeing, academic                        performance as well as discipline of these children.

Counselling

This is on-going for the children under ROH programmes, the women in Nawezikana women’s group and the families that ROH works with / partners with. There is a special counselling tool suitable for traumatised children and four of ROH staff have been trained to use it. This has greatly helped such children have their dignity and self-esteem restored. We have three social workers supported by Friends of Ray of Hope.

Community outreach programme.

Once a term, we distribute food to 50 most vulnerable families in the community. Priority is given to families of the children at ROH school. This is sponsored by friends of ROH through the general fund. Relief baskets contain maize, meal flour, beans, cooking oil and soap. ROH visitors / friends have been donated blamkets, buckets, mattresses. Food relief has helped the HIV positive people who at times fail to adhere to their medical regimen because of lack of food.

Medical outreach: Twice a year, there is a medical outreach program at ROH that caters for the medical needs of the children at ROH and the whole Namuwongo community free of charge. This is sponsored by life changers international based in the USA. A team of doctors, Nurses visit with medical supplies and serve the Namuwongo community. This has been happening for the last 8 years.

Medical services

Three years ago, a permanent clinic was setup at ROH school to help on a daily basis. This has been scaled down right now to cater for ROH children and their families , ROH staff because of the costs involved. A Nurse is in charge of the clinic.  Patients with complicated ailments, tests and other specialised treatments are sometimes aided by funds from the General Fund.

Women empowerment programme

Women in difficult situations have been helped to start small business. Most of them are engaged in selling of vegetables, food restaurants, second hand clothes. The returns for the business help them  be able to put food on the table. Others are engaged in tailoring training and crafts making. The product they make include necklace’s, different types of bags made from African fabric, baskets, mats among others. With these skills, these women/girls have had their lives greatly improved.

Currently market for the ladies products is a big challenge.

These women with the help of ROH social workers have a psycho-social support group that meet regularly to share experiences, encourage one another and bond as sisters. This has greatly helped to give them a sense of belonging, love and appreciation.

Success Stories

Some of the sponsored children have become productive and useful people in society, their lives have completely changed as they are helping their siblings and promoting development in the country.