Children of Hope Uganda

In May 2013, Chase McNabb visited Children of Hope Uganda with Photographers Without Borders to document the warm and generous caregiving of staff and volunteers who contributed their skills with the Early Childhood Development Centre and the Barlonyo Technical and Vocational Institute. Children of Hope Uganda is a Canadian NGO that works to care and encourage the well-being and education of children affected by the Lord's Resistance Army attack between 1986 and 2006 that left thousands of formerly abducted youths and their families unable to fend for themselves. Since 2006, Esther Atoo, and later on Lorna Pitcher, have been supporting over 600 children with educational training and sustainability with the help of associated staff and volunteers from around the world. PWB caught up with Pitcher to discuss the progress of the organization since McNabb's visit and what readers and fellow humanitarians can do to contribute to their growth.

Photo by Chase McNabb, Photographers Without Borders

Pitcher says investing in income-generating activities is what is most needed in order to pay for the monthly salaries of staff. Income-generating activities are skills taught to the older children of COHU and can be applied to help earn profit to cover the monthly costs needed to maintain the schools. The activities aimed for fundraising in order for investment to begin include craft production; feeding and veterinary services of pigs and chickens; the purchase of 24 goals; lumbar and sewing machines for a carpentry and tailoring class to thrive; and the excavation of a pond and the stocking of fish to implement a fish farm.

Powerful projects on the horizon for COHU for 2016 exist as enhancements of the children and youths experience of educational and vocation training. In order for school registration to be possible, the Ugandan Ministry of Education requires that both lightning rods and fencing of perimeter of school grounds coexist. The organization would also like to build a dining/assembly hall to attach to their new kitchen, create a corn grinding mill—as an income-generating activity and to reduce the cost of piggery feeds—and to construct a staff house for the principal and two teachers.

Pitcher encourages those who are interested in supporting the organization to volunteer at community events and to staff the sales tables. She also says that jewellery, stuffed animals, and baskets are available at these sales tables and account for approximately a third of funds raised for the organization.

Since 2013, McNabb's photos taken during his stay have been used in PowerPoint presentations shown to potential donors, school presentations, and on the cover and within COHU's annual reports. Pitcher praises PWB's photography initiative and emphasizes the importance of visuals as an effective storytelling tool. “Telling the Children of Hope Uganda story with pictures is our most compelling fundraising tool."

To volunteer in Uganda, staff at COHU sales tables, help sponsor the children or school they are attending, visit http://www.childrenofhopeuganda.org/ or email Lorna at lorna@childrenofhopeuganda.org for further information.

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