Giving hope to children orphaned by war
During civil strife children are orphaned while others get lost. Due to conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the years, thousands of children have been orphaned, while others are faced with the difficulty of tracing their parents.
Some of these children come along with neighbours or strangers to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement and in most cases do not get proper care.
Efforts have been made to assist some of these children to live with foster parents under a programme being implemented by AAH- Uganda in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. The fostership project has been running for several years.
Among these children (some with parents, who are yet to be traced) is an orphan, *Daniella (not her real name), 12, who was defiled by her brother. She has been living with foster parents since 2010.
The girl often keeps to herself and only talks when she is addressed. Her childhood has been a nightmare. “While in school and in the villages she became withdrawn and this arose some suspicion about her life,” says Ayesiga Enid, an AAH Uganda staff.
Enid says soon afterwards it was brought to light that she was being sexually abused by her elder brother, whom she was living with. The brother’s whereabouts is unknown. She says in 2014 over 80 children were put under fostership.
Daniella had come from Goma, North Kivu, aged only four years, along with thousands of people who fled a raging conflict in the area. Her foster father, Nkoy Inele, says when he decided to take care of the Daniella, despite many parents unwillingness to be close to her, due to her condition.
“She was sickly with rashes all over her body. However, I decided to take care of her after I was approached. I tried to imagine if it was my daughter going through such pain,” says the 48-year-old father of nine children.
Inele’s wife Kavila Mteria, 42, says we would gladly adopt another child. The couple lives in Kyebitaka Village, in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, which has more than 30,000 people. Some of them have lived in the settlement for close to 20 years.
The couple is advocates of anti-Gender Based Violence and is members of Gender Taskforce that tries to address marital problems, among community members.
Another girl under fostership, Esther Furaha, 14, came from North Kivu with neigbours in 2009, after her parents went missing. Furaha carries a smile and is currently in Standard Six.
She was taken care foster parents from 2010 for two years, in Mukarange Village. However, she was not comfortable with living them.
Enid says they sought other foster parents for her in Kasonga Village. Noukobwa Asumpta, the mother of two, says she is glad to take care of Furaha (which means happiness in Kiswahili).
“She is like my daughter. I treat her as one of my own and I do not want the past to affect her future,” says Asumpta, who with her husband came from Masisi, North Kivu.
Furaha’s foster father Edmond Mahatane describes her as an obedient girl and with good mannerism.
Enid says they trace orphaned children’s parents through the Ugandan Red Cross within the country’s borders. However, in case the tracing is across borders, they seek the services of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
She says before they consider a couple for fostership, there are a number of factors they consider. “We assess capability, willingness, and voluntariness of the potential parents. We even visit their homes,” says Enid.