We took our first small steps in Africa this year! More specifically we visited the Ugandan capital, Kampala to spread the Valentine’s love on two landfill sites – Kitezi and Namboole.
Our aim was to help 2,500 people. Given rainy season was about to start, we had to work fast.
On Kitezi dump there are three rules 1) no children 2) all workers must be registered and 3) they need protective boots and gloves. The waste pickers we met were inspiring, upright and hardworking people. Like all parents, they want the best for their kids. Significantly they are already doing what we aim for on each dump project we work with. That’s to keep their children off landfill. In order for this to remain the case, we felt we had to support the entire family. Given protective boots cost $4 (about two days earnings) buying shoes for their children as well is a luxury most can’t afford. That being the case, we began by distributing 650 pairs of boots and 800 pairs gloves to the adults. We weren’t done there. With the parents taken care of, we went into the surrounding slums to find their children and give them shoes too.
Next stop, Namboole. And the rains. We couldn’t avoid them any longer.
The dumpsite is near Mandela stadium. Ironic that a symbol of African hope, stands in such close proximity to conditions of abject poverty. Though the storms descended, we went ahead with our distributions. Ugandan pop stars Rhoda K and Nbk Superstargyal Selekta Shel Bie K spread a little sunshine when they dropped by to lend a hand – much to the joy of the community. To the children, we gave 340 pairs of boots. To the adults, 320 pairs of boots and 420 pairs of gloves.
In addition to issuing aid, distributions are the perfect time to understand how we can support the community long term. Getting the children into education is our top priority but we were keen to understand how we can help parents too. After giving a number of talks including one on employment & education we discussed with the community and found many of the mothers are eager to learn new skills but are concerned about childcare. Needless to say, this has provided us with some serious food for thought in terms of next steps.
And there will be a next step in Uganda. In all we helped around 3,000 people on our last visit. But we’re going to reach many more than that. We’re delighted to announce we’ll be starting a new initiative in Massaka come the autumn. We couldn’t be more excited! We are currently working on plans with our SSP Uganda co-ordinators Erinah and Farhad which we can’t wait to share with you. Further details coming soon. Watch this space!