Homelessness is Uganda has been an ongoing problem since the early 1980s and resulted from internal conflicts and wars between the prevailing dictatorship of President Apollo Milton Obote and the guerrilla warfare that was waging in Uganda spearheaded by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. During this same period, Uganda faced an outbreak of people getting infected with the deadly AIDS virus and hundreds of thousands of Ugandans died due to the complications of this disease, leading to many children left as orphans, some of whom simply moved to the big towns and city (Kampala), to try to fend for themselves.
A study by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect estimated there were 10,000 such children in 2013 – up 70% since 1993. Additionally, emotional and physical abuse, combined with poverty, drives children on to the streets in Uganda in huge numbers. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates there are 2.7 million orphans in Uganda as per 2014.
Furthermore, youth unemployment in Uganda is the highest in Africa. A recent study, “Lost opportunity? Gaps in youth policy and programming in Uganda,” published by ActionAid, put youth unemployment at 62%, although the African Development Bank says it could be as high as 83%. Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30 – 78% – according to the to the 2012 State of Uganda population report by the UN Population Fund.
With very little help from national and international agencies to cater for the needs of these children therefore, this was a mission that we, at Meet The Need Africa Foundation thought we could undertake, to try to address in the form of setting up an educational institution where we could enroll homeless children into vocational-skills training, protect them from physical and emotional trauma, and finally train them in skills they could use to get back into productive and valuable members of Ugandan society.