Uganda’s population is currently a 5 children to 1 adult ratio, with 10,000 living on the streets. Street life leaves malnourished and vulnerable children exposed to exploitation, abuse and extreme poverty due to civil war, death of parents or family abandonment. Disease, physical and emotional abuse is very prevalent with a high rate of substance abuse as a form of coping. Lutaaya Abdul, a former street boy, developed in 1971 a grassroot charity, African Hearts Community Organisation, from a passion to rescue boys out of Kisenyi Slum, Kampala who lived the same life that he had.
Children are rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated through various programs. The Transitional Home is where rescued street children start rehabilitation from street life. Uncle lives onsite and provides care and guidance.
The African Hearts Junior School has over 400 students from nursery to primary 7. The school has gained a reputation as a model academic school that offers boarding facilities to both boys and girls. The African Hearts Vocational Centre is located at the school site. Youth can be trained in literacy, numeracy, tailoring, brick making, craft, jewellery making, computer and mechanical skills. This project will also provide microloans to graduates to start businesses.
The project will also develop 50 acres in a village called Kyerima which is home to 700 people with no power or clean, running water. The goal is to empower this community and create industry so the people can thrive in their village. The plans are to invest in agriculture, develop model farms and help farmers form cooperatives and stores. 3 acres have so far been cultivated to farm crops. Crops are distributed to the school, homes and the surplus I sold at markets. The people of Kyerima have taken ownership of the project by constructing a pit latrine and temporary structure acting as a school (African Hearts Junior School Kyerima) and community/medical centre. There are plans for a nursery and permanent wells.
The Royalle Band of over 60 boys performs, upon request, all over Kampala and surrounding areas for any event. Band members are trained musicians and offer a varied program including marching band, concert band, guitar players, quartets and acrobatics. This provides the boys with some income and works as a mechanism for rehabilitation and independence.