The third edition of the journey of hope campaign was on Friday evening launched by Dwelling Places, a Christian based Non- Governmental Organisation in Kampala.
The Journey of Hope campaign held under the theme “schools not streets” focuses at promoting education as a way of preventing trafficking and unsafe migration of children especially from Karamoja region to Kampala streets and climaxes with a 467km walk from Kampala to Napak district.
Speaking during the launch of this year’s campaign at Silversprings hotel in Bugoloobi, Ritah Nkemba, the Dwelling Places founder said the idea was born out of a 2014 visit to Lamaratoit village in Napak district where a number of children had been resettled after being evicted from Kampala streets as preparations for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
“I found many children loitering in the village and not in school. There was only one government school with classes from P.1 to P.4,”Nkemba said.
“Only 35 of the 93 registered children in the school were present on the day I visited the school with only 3 teachers.”
She narrated that when a community dialogue was conducted, it was discovered that most parents had failed to send their children to school due to failure to contribute the mandatory shs2000 towards feeding and purchasing of scholastic materials.
According to the Dwelling Places founder, it was also discovered that many of the children who could not afford school ended up coming to Kampala streets.
“The village was asked to register all children who were of school going age, yet not in school. 200 children were registered and enrolled into Lomarotoit Primary school. For a number of years we have been able to keep the 200 children in school and stop them from moving back to streets.”
She said that through proceeds from the previous two campaigns, they have been able to improve the Lomarotoit Primary school and now ends at P.7.
“We now want to construct the only government secondary school in the area through proceeds from this year’s Journey of hope campaign.
Nkemba explained that the only way to stop children from coming to the streets is keeping them in school.
Harriet Mudondo, the director in charge of gender in Kampala Capital City Authority, said street children has been a big problem to them for a long time noting that such campaigns like the Journey of Hope come in handy to assist them deal with the problem.
“We try to rescue them from the streets and rehabilitate them but many of them end up returning,”Mudondo said.
She however noted that for the last two years, KCCA has been preparing a bill that would help reduce street children.
“The ordinance for child protection will put in place stringent measures and punitive punishments for parents who neglect their children and adult perpetrators who send children to streets for their own gains,”Mudondo said.
This year’s Journey of hope campaign will run from July 1 to 18.