Meet The Kids

Here are some of the Kids KISS supports. We say kids but as you can see there are all ages here, KISS supports from birth to training in a profession and becoming independent – the ultimate aim. These Kids are the true heroes of our age, their passion, enthusiasm, hard work and smiles remind us all what is important in all our lives!

Patience’s Story

Patience is 12 years old and lives with her Mother in Hoima. Thanks to a government initiative, Patience is able to access free education in Hoima at the local primary school.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many hundreds of other children in Hoima, school fees are not the only obstacle to attending school. So while the government has made it possible to attend school without paying, many children are still missing out.

Patience suffers from sickle cell anaemia – an incredibly painful and life threatening disease which causes her red blood cells to form abnormally. The disease is a difficult one to manage even in this country – but in Uganda, where both medical and family resources are limited, it can be close to impossible for some children to receive the care that they need.

Patience’s mother had become tired of her constant requests for help and her inability to help around the home as much as children are expected to in Uganda. As a result, Patience was frequently left at home alone with no one to care for her and no way of accessing even the most basic of medical treatment.

This meant that despite having access to free education, Patience was frequently denied the opportunity to study as it was simply too painful for her to walk the distance from home to school. Thanks to your support, KISS is now working together with Patience and her mother to help them both understand the disease and its implications.

Patience now has access to regular medical treatment as well as friendship and support from her peers and the KISS staff. She is now able to attend school much more regularly, and when she does become ill, has plenty of people looking out for her. Patience has always had a bright smile – but, thanks to your support, she now has all the more reason to use it!

Alex’s Story

Alex is a 13 year old boy who lives with his mother and three sisters in Hoima. Thanks to free education provided by the government, Alex is able to attend school and is currently in P6, the penultimate year of primary school.

When KISS first came to know Alex and his family, the five of them were renting a single room in a dangerous area of Hoima Town. After their father abandoned them, the family was left with nothing – no land, no belongings, no food and nowhere to sleep.

Thanks to the kindness of a friend, the family were helped to begin renting this room in Hoima, and Alex’s mother got a job selling chips at a local bar where she had to work late into the night. However, the income generated by their mother’s job was nowhere near enough to even cover the rent, let alone to provide for the children.

When KISS first came to know the family, Alex and his sisters were eating a maximum of one meal a day. They would go to school hungry in the morning and go to bed hungry at night. Despite receiving free education they were often chased away from school for not having the equipment they needed – they often struggled to afford the uniforms, the books and even the most basic necessities such as pens and pencils.

KISS works hard to provide afterschool, weekend and holiday activities for as many children as possible in the local area. Despite the circumstances that they were in, Alex and his sisters were regulars at these activities. Alex is a keen footballer and excellent dancer and it is through these pastoral outreach activities that KISS came to know him.

Thanks to your support, not only is KISS able to provide children such as Alex with an opportunity to dance, play and enjoy life, KISS is now also working directly with Alex’s family to help them to work their way out of the situation they are in. KISS is now renting new, safer accommodation for Alex and his family as well as providing them with a small monthly allowance to help with food and school requirements. In time, KISS hopes to help Alex and his family to become self-sufficient by providing them with a livelihood project.

Michael’s Story

Michael is a young lad who KISS has only recently come to know. He’s thirteen years old and is the third eldest in a family of eleven children. Michael started showing up to KISS activities in Kasambya completely of his own accord one weekend. He immediately caught the attention of the staff with his ear to ear grin.

As time passed, and Michael began to trust KISS, he would come to the office more and more. Each time he came he would bring either an avocado or a mango with him for the staff. He took such enormous pleasure in being able to bring these gifts for the staff – expecting absolutely nothing in return.

One evening, long after the office had been locked up and staff had gone home, one staff member got a knock at the door. Standing there, in the pitch dark and lashing rain was Michael. He was covered in mud, soaking wet and sobbing. Michael explained through tears that his mother had sent him on a 45 minute walk through the dark and the rain into town because she fancied some peanuts. He explained that his mother didn’t want him anymore.

Michael could do nothing right. He was the only one at home who was not allowed a mattress to sleep on. He was not allowed to cover himself at night. He was subject to frequent punishments. When Michael requested soap to wash his school uniform, it was refused. When he washed his uniform without the soap, his mother would remove it from the line and tread it in the dirt. Michael was hated.

When KISS came to know Michael he owned one shirt and one pair of shorts. He had never owned a pair of shoes and any items of property he required were immediately distributed amongst his brothers and sisters.

Unfortunately, Michael’s story is not unique. Many children in Uganda are on the receiving end of resentment, abuse and neglect. It is not uncommon for parents to produce more children than they are able to care for and to then turn on the children when they ask for time or resources which the parents are unable to provide.

Michael’s case is a particularly extreme example. Thanks to your support, KISS was able to step in and help Michael. KISS is now paying for Michael to attend primary school, where he stays in the boarding section. His school uniform, books, pens and equipment have all been paid for. KISS has also bought Michael some new clothes, a mattress and a blanket which he can use at school.

As well as the financial support, KISS staff are also working to help build Michael’s self-esteem as well as working together with his family to try to solve the problems at home. Michael loves his studies so much. When he’s older he wants to be a journalist. Thanks to your support, Michael now has the chance of a very bright future indeed.

Leonida’s Story

Leonida is 4 years old and lives with her mother and siblings in Kasambya. Leonida suffers from a number of complicated medical conditions including hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and cerebral palsy.

It is not unusual for children with conditions such as Leonida’s to be thought of as worthless. Sadly, it is also not unusual to find children with disabilities kept locked away in homes, hidden from view for fear of stigma.

Luckily for Leonida, her mother thinks differently. She spent everything that the family had to try to find treatment for Leonida. When the family’s resources ran dry, Leonida’s mother came to KISS for help.

Leonida’s family live in a tiny two roomed house in rural Kasambya. The family survive on food which they cultivate themselves. There is no water source nearby and no electricity. Caring for a child with such complex needs is unspeakably difficult at the best of times. It is hard to imagine what it is like for Leonida’s family.

KISS was able to step in and support Leonida by providing access to comprehensive medical care. Leonida’s mother is facilitated to take her daughter’s to a specialist clinic in Uganda’s main hospital once a month. Her medication and admission costs are all taken care of and Leonida’s mother is being taught more about her daughter disabilities.

Interview with Leonida’s Mum

Further to this KISS has been able to collaborate with another charitable organisation to obtain a walking frame and physiotherapy for Leonida to help with her mobility. Until now, Leonida’s mother has been carrying her everywhere on her back.

As Leonida grows KISS will continue to work with her family to assess her needs and to continue to find the best way of helping them. When she is old enough, KISS staff will be able to provide respite care for Leonida at weekends, helping her to participate in activities with other children at the KISS site.

By providing support for children like Leonida, KISS is also making huge steps in tackling the stigma attached to disability in rural Uganda. Before KISS stepped in, Leonida’s mother had lost all hope of being able to help Leonida. Now, thanks to your support, Leonida stands a much better chance of living a comfortable and fulfilled life.