The main office of the organisation Dwelling Places is located in Mutundwe, a suburb southwest of the Ugandan capital Kampala. From here, the organisation coordinates not only the street work done in Kampala and the nearby slums, but also the reintegration of children with their families in two of their transitional centres, located in Buloba for boys and Mutundwe for girls. The organisation organises all of its interventions around the 4R-model: rescue, rehabilitation, reconciliation and resettlement.
Dwelling Places is a Christian NGO, which was founded in 1995 by Ritah and William Nkemba and has been offering services to the street-connected children of the Ugandan capital ever since. A walk in the centre with the outreach team of Dwelling Places leads us from the busy taxi and bus stand to Jinja Road, the heart of the capital where heavily guarded government buildings line the street. Before, this used to be the daily working ground for many of the Karamoja children who are on the streets to beg in order to contribute to the family income. Many of the kids on the streets of Kampala come from different regions in Uganda in order to escape poverty and to look for more opportunities in the big city.
Today, however, almost no kids can be found on Jinja Road. In an attempt to diminish the growing number of street kids, the Ugandan government is looking for solutions to tackle the problem, mostly with repressive measures. Recently, Ugandan officials have passed a law making it an offence to offer money, food or clothing to children living on the streets of Kampala, in an attempt to stop exploitation. These challenging circumstances make the need for a positive alternative to interact and build trust with the street-connected children even more relevant.
Besides working in the city centre, Dwelling Places also reaches out to some of the slum areas in Kampala, where a lot of the children spend at least part of their time. In areas as Katwe, Kisenyi and Kosovo, multiple locations could be suitable to start mobile school interventions to unlock and develop the talents of the many children in street situations there.
Although the highest number of street-connected children can be found on the streets of Kampala, it’s not the only city where valuable work can be done with the mobile school. After a week in the capital, the Ugandan prospective visit continued near the Kenyan border in the town of Tororo. Here, the organisation StreetWays Uganda E.V. works with young people on the street to ensure they have access to quality education. StreetWays was founded in 2015 by young Ugandans and Germans to provide new and former street children with different services such as bakery, ICT and life skills.
Besides conducting workshops with the team and other stakeholders, a lot of potential outreach locations were identified in Tororo and Malaba. In this region of Uganda, there is a lot of migration of children from the villages to the urban centres. The mayor of Tororo – who attended the closing ceremony of the Mobile School training – welcomed the positive approach of the mobile school to build positive trust relationships with children living and/or working on the streets for a solid foundation to build sustainable change.
Although Uganda is still a blank spot on the Mobile School partner network map, there is a high chance the country will join the East-African network in the near future. In the coming months, Mobile School will stay in close touch with our potential partners to start the preparations for mobile school interventions in 2021. To be continued!