Education for orphans in war-torn northern Uganda
Children Comfort Ministries (CCM)
Kitgum, Northern Uganda
Nature of support:
- Funding for 100 orphans to receive early years education
- Provision of text books
- Contribution to building of new school building
JMT has partnered with a local charity in the northern Ugandan town of Kitgum since 2005 in supporting them to provide care, support and education opportunities for children. Working with the local group, known as Children Comfort Ministries (CCM), JMT has supported them through the development of their work over the last 10+ years, which began during the terrible insurgency war in northern Uganda, and has developed in the post-war rehabilitation and rebuilding of the communities. For the last 3 years JMT has helped establish and develop a new nursery and primary school.
Our current support and focus:
In 2015, JMT has provided financial support in two specific areas, related to the school:
– Sponsorship of 100 children at the school, providing for their fees to cover teaching costs, daily meals, basic materials and books for schooling
– Purchase of a piece of land on which to construct a new school; after a process of evaluating a potential site for building their own school (as they are currently in rented, temporary premises), a suitable location was found and negotiated. JMT has fundraised to meet the costs of acquisition (£5,000)
The CCM team:
Led by Charles Ocaya, Charles Obwona and David Ottello, the team is made up mostly of a group of teachers, who started CCM to provide a safe refuge for the children in their town of Kitgum (see below for more history). They then moved to provide education opportunities for those left orphaned or unable to afford schooling. As the area has recovered from the war period, they have founded and run a new nursery and primary school seeking to provide good quality education and care for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Nursery and Primary School:
The team founded a new nursery school in 2012/13 to provide the opportunity for children from homes often with either no parents (‘child-headed’ families) or just one parent, some early education. It has developed to offer early primary years, now extending to the first 3 years through P1-P3 classes. Whilst Government primary schools are in theory free, parents still need to provide for uniforms, meals, books and school materials, as well as transport to the nearest school. CCM recognised that many in their area weren’t able to afford even this, coupled with poor quality education at the schools with over-stretched teachers. So, they founded the school, operating initially with no income to pay the teachers properly (beyond what little parents could contribute) using some rented premises. With the help of JMT, the team have been able to expand, paying full-time teachers and growing to over 100 children now enrolled. We receive regular, detailed reports of the school from every expense to wonderful pictures of daily life in the school, sports days, ‘graduation day’, and many other events!
Since 2014, we have been working with CCM on its plan to provide long term stability and space for growth through the building of a new school premises. The first step was to find and acquire land for the school – this they did in late 2014, and during Q1 2015 finalised negotiations and JMT provided the funds to buy the land. Now, the challenge is to focus on a step-by-step building process. With their resourceful approach, the team will help do much of the work, alongside builders where required, and build out as they can.
History to the partnership with Children Comfort Ministries
Our partnership with CCM began in 2005 following a visit to Kitgum, which was then still protected by the Ugandan Army, under curfew and with tens of thousands living (some for more than a decade) in temporary camps, to protect them from the insurgent LRA soldiers. CCM was a group of teachers who had formed a protected night shelter at a local church, where children could come and sleep safely behind fences and walls. They would provide entertainment, food and bedding for over 100 children. Following a ceasefire in late 2006, and subsequent peace talks, the camps were slowly disbanded and people returned to villages after 20 years of war, but many children were left without parents and often raising their siblings. CCM began a programme of providing care and educational support to children who’d been orphaned or left with extended family and unable to afford secondary schooling. Over the years from 2007-13, JMT supported 7 students through secondary schools and then into tertiary education or vocational colleges. Of these, 6 have now completed their studies and include trained teachers, a mid-wife, an electrician and a mechanic. From 2013/14, as the majority of these students finished their studies, JMT’s support moved to supporting the development of the new nursery / primary school.