Saturday, October 24, 2015

Step Into My World: Northern Uganda

We head back to Uganda again, for the last time in this series. This time, we'll learn more about the Northern region of Uganda.

I have one child living in this region:

My child, Derrick, lives near the city of Hoima. To me, it looks like its in the central part of the country, but Compassion says it's in the Northern region.

I want to share a few facts to give you a glimpse of the Northern region of Uganda. 

- Over 70% of people in Northern Uganda live below the poverty line. 

- This region was hit especially hard from the effects of the Lord's Resistance Army, which terrorized the people living here; through looting, murder, and rape. This group of people rampaged for 20 years. The families here are just recently beginning to rebuild their lives. 

- The HIV/AIDS crisis causes more cases in Northern Uganda than in any other part of the country. Most families have at least one person living with, or has died from, the effects of the disease. 

Employment is hard to come by in this region. Most families work as subsistence farmers. However, the climate here is harsh. This region is often subject to extreme drought and wildfires, which leads to a severe lack of water. It's nearly impossible to grow a successful crop here and farmers often only get enough food to last a few months of the year. 

If, and when, food runs out, families will sell what they can in the markets or on the side of the road, with the hopes of earning money to purchase much needed food and supplies. 

Homes in this region are, typically, round mud huts with a thatched roof. These are one room homes and usually accommodate large families. Most families in this region have 4-5 children. Some families have even more.  These homes usually don't have electricity or running water. 

Compassion is working hard to change the lives of children and families in Northern Uganda. One of the biggest struggles for families here is with food shortage. In the cases that parents can't afford to feed their children, Compassion gives food supplies to the family, to ensure that children have healthy meals at home. 

Compassion provides a safe place for children to attend before and after school and on the weekends, at individual projects. Here, children are provided with equipment to play with peers and enjoy some free, uninterrupted joy. 

At the project, each child's learning is held to utmost importance. Children, and sometimes their parents, have one-one-one time with a tutor, to learn important skills. Skills taught are developmentally appropriate and includes the itty bitty ones all the way up to the young adults. Each child's progress is meticulously tracked. 

Children are taught about the life-saving, all loving message that can be found in the Bible. Children learn that God loves them so much and has a wonderful plan for their future, outside of living in poverty. Children are taught to sing and pray and dance and worship their heavenly father. 

In Northern Uganda, the Compassion staff pray (and ask sponsors to pray) the following prayers: 

- For political stability

- For good legislation and and government policies that will accelerate rural development. 

- That cultural practices that discriminate against women and children will be abandoned. 

- For children's protection against illness and domestic violence. 

- For Compassion center workers, that they will maintain their dedication to serving the children in their care. 

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