Starcross Kin Worldwide is committed to caring for children who have been orphaned by AIDS in Uganda. We provide food, shelter, education, medical care, security and a loving family. SKW is committed to caring for each child as their own until he or she is launched in life.
Sister Julie visited Uganda in September 2011. Here are some of her notes from the trip.
Starcross Kin Worldwide (SKW) has a very focused mission to provide a second chance in life for AIDS orphans until they are independent adults. We have a House of Hope in Kampala, Uganda. The program has been very, very successful. We provide school fees and basic expenses for the children in their villages while they are cared for by their grandparents, and bring them to Kampala when that care is no longer available. They live at the House of Hope through the primary school years, and move to boarding school during their high school years as is the custom in Uganda. They return home to the House of Hope on breaks or when they are sick. After high school,we continue to pay their living expenses and tuition while they attend technical school or the university.
It's been wonderful to meet with all of our sponsored children at the House of Hope. Each year they are more poised and confident. They love to tell me about their progress in school and their dreams for the future. The ten new young children are, of course, still rather shy. And coming from village schools, they only know a few words of English. That will soon change thanks to the efforts of our excellent director, Margaret Nanteza. By my next visit, they will be strong and healthy from the nourishing food served at the House.
The children in Uganda value the chance to go to school. Many parents cannot afford tuition. Our students understand that education will lift them out of poverty. Uganda follows the British system which means there are national exams after 7th grade and 10th grade. Pressure is intense as the scores determine how far a student can progress. Our kids are motivated to study hard.
At present we have 62 sponsored children: 21 in primary school, 21 in high school, 3 in vocational programs, and 17 in college or university.
There are 58 young adults who were sponsored AIDS orphans and have completed their education since the project began in 1998.
Some of the careers they have achieved: mechanics, teachers, hair dressers, tailors, journalists, TV reporter, statistician, microfinancers, business administrators, secretaries, software engineer, artists, art teacher, lab technicians, builders, masons, farmers, social workers, nurses, midwife, high school counselor, welder, cooks, cafe owner, hotel receptionists, cashier, waiters, tour guides, lecturer in computer science and sign language interpreter.
Many of these House of Hope graduates (who refer to themselves as OBs and OGs for Old Boys and Old Girls) stopped by to say hello to me and report on how their lives are going these days. What an amazing group of young men and women! All are productive, responsible citizens who have used well the opportunities they've been given. It pleases me that they keep involved in helping the younger children. There is a true feeling of extended family among them all.
The kids, young and old, are very grateful to the sponsors who have so generously provided for them. It gives them great comfort to know that after losing their parents and so many family members, they are not forgotten. There are people in the world who value them and care for them. Thank you to all who have helped.
P.S. I'm always glad to answer questions about SKW. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TINA CARING ASSOCIATION BEGINS
An exciting new development came to fruition during this trip. Three of our former AIDS orphans formed an association to help prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to newborns. The complete article, Our Youth Are Giving Back, can be found in the Autumn 2011 issue of Sharings on the Starcross Community website. http://www.starcross.org/pdfs/sharings11autumn.pdf
Milly, Kasule, Sister Julie and Alex of Tina Caring Association. These former AIDS orphans from our House of Hope work to prevent mother to baby transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Three young adults who were sponsored and educated by Starcross Kin Worldwide, have launched a new project to help meet the United Nations goal of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. Milly Nakazzi, a nurse-midwife, Alex Lwanyaaga, a social worker, and Kasule Kizito, a microfinance specialist have formed “Tina Caring Association” bringing PMTCT (Preventing Mother To Child Transmission) services to the poor in remote sections of Eastern Uganda. Their efforts are being financed through the kind beneficence of friends of Starcross interested in effectively responding to the AIDS pandemic.
How does it work? All natural leaders, Milly, Alex and Kasule travel to villages by motorscooter organizing group meetings for HIV education. They provide testing and counseling. They facilitate groups and visit homes. Milly teaches HIV positive mothers about safe breastfeeding, weaning, infant nutrition and hygiene. Alex leads support groups for men. Kasule handles record keeping, finances and administration. Tina Caring Association (TCA) is a new nonprofit organization operating in the sprawling Iganga District where one health center supposedly serves over 40,000 people, most of whom have no transportation. The population is mostly illiterate Muslim peasant farmers. Although Milly, Alex and Kasule are not Muslim themselves, they are highly respected in the community. Due to polygamy and lack of education, there is a high percentage of HIV/AIDS. Life expectancy is 46. Through community mobilization, education and PMTCT services, babies can be born free of HIV, even if the parents are infected. The enthusiasm and energy of the youthful TCA members makes this project exciting to behold.