Family Reunification in Uganda
Did you know that around the world, up to 90% of children living in orphanages have at least one known living parent or relative?
The sad reality is that the majority of children living in institutional care have been relinquished due to immense poverty. Love Without Boundaries has always been fully committed to helping orphaned children. In countries where we work, like Cambodia and Uganda, many parents leave their children at orphanages in pure desperation from not being able to provide them with food or education.
When we first started working in Uganda, we became aware that several of the children in the care of the Mukono Baby Room had birth relatives who had been identified. We then learned that these family members remained hopeful they could bring their children back home once they were in a better place in their lives.
LWB has always been committed to family preservation, evidenced by our commitment to our Unity Initiative in rural China. We began brainstorming on how we could best help in Uganda to ensure family reunification was the first option considered for the children in our care.
Ken and Cathy, the Ugandan managers of the Mukono project, shared with us their commitment to family preservation and reunification as well but explained that they did not have the resources on hand to reunite children in a timely fashion. When we realized that just $500 invested in an income-generating project (such as providing livestock for a family to raise) could enable a family to take their child out of institutional care, we made a commitment to fund a minimum of ten reunifications over the coming year.
This supplemental funding has already allowed nine children from the Mukono Baby Room to return to their families, and five more will soon be going home as well.
The first child that was able to return to his biological family was Judah. He was terribly sick and malnourished when he first came to Mukono at seven months of age.
Judah was placed on nutritional care and careful refeeding and grew to be a very healthy little boy.
After he had been at the home for several months, Ken and Cathy were able to locate Judah’s father and paternal grandparents who wished to take over care for Judah. Their first few visits to the home were difficult, as Judah saw them as complete strangers.
But over time, with support from the baby home staff, he grew more and more comfortable with them. In late February, he left to go live with them permanently.
A portion of the reunification funds LWB provided for his family allowed an income-generating project of raising chicks, giving them an extra source of income to help provide for Judah’s ongoing needs.
Another touching case has been that of sweet Ella.
Ella came to the Mukono Baby Room as a tiny two-month-old. Her single father worked long nights, so he was unable to safely care for Ella at his home. Ella struggled to recover from repeated respiratory infections while she lived at the home, but she ate well and grew despite being sick so often.
A constant in Ella’s life in the home was regular visits from her father. He came weekly without fail, and both father and daughter were always delighted to see one another.
These visits were also an opportunity for Mukono manager Ken to mentor Ella’s father, and the two men were able to have many positive discussions, one father to another. The staff was therefore confident that Ella’s father was ready to take over her care, and she returned to live with him and her new stepmother in early April. On reunification day, as soon as Ella’s father came to receive her, she settled quickly into his arms.
Our team recently visited Ella and her family at their home, and she is the very picture of a happy and loved little girl.
We’re so grateful to be able to provide essential support that helps reunify and preserve biological families. It’s only possible because of our wonderful donors – so for all you do to support our work with children around the world, we send our deepest thanks.