On 9th November 2017, Ellen Eva Ssuubi conducted counseling with the children at Wells of Hope Junior School. The topics she handled included; self-worth, keeping up with positive discipline, working on negative habits, importance of obedience, personal and surrounding hygiene. The younger children were also taught about food etiquette; respecting their friends and their elders. The children were encouraged to embrace honesty in everything they do; to be remorseful; to forgive one another; and to be prayerful.
On 31st October 2017, Ellen Eva Ssuubi Wells of Hope Executive Director and Marjorie Lunkuse Wells of Hope Deputy Executive Director conducted counseling with the children at Wells of Hope High School. The topics discussed included: “I can attitude”; “Effective communication and channels of communication”; and “Discipline”.
Marjorie encouraged the students to know and understand that they themselves are the most important resource and that they can become what they want to become if they work on it.
Ellen Eva Ssuubi encouraged the students to use effective channels of communication at the school and the importance of keeping proper communication lines. The students were encouraged to always adhere to positive discipline because they will have no regrets in life and this will help them achieve their goal. They were also encouraged to respect their elders. The students were appreciative of the session that had opened up their minds.
At the end of the session, the girls received re-usable pads; and were taken through a training session about hygiene while using the pads.
We thank Camp David of the Ozarks and the Patricia Project in the US who donated the pads.
On 31st October 2017, we were delighted to conduct a dedication service and the Primary Seven Leavers party which were held for the 17 candidates at Wells of Hope Junior School. During the service, the candidates were prayed for by their friends and Wells of Hope staff; they prayed for excellence in their Primary Leaving Exams due on 2nd & 3rd November 2017. The service was led by Apostle Sunday Kafeero, a Wells of Hope volunteer. Sunday encouraged the candidates to be confident; know that they are known by God; and should seek the Spirit of remembrance. He added that God’s love is eternal; He’s faithful and He knows every human being by name.
The Wells of Hope staff encouraged the candidates to be confident and seek God’s wisdom and guidance
During the party, the candidates cut one cake which they shared along with sodas. They were gifted with success cards from Wells of Hope as a way of wishing them all the best in their exams; and presents to thank them for their determination in reaching the final level/ class in primary.
The candidates expressed their gratitude towards Wells of Hope for the continued support; “It's a miracle for me to complete Primary Seven, I did not know I would reach this level, may God bless Wells of Hope and everyone who has supported and stood with us to give us this hope,” said Catherine Mwebazenta, with a wide smile on her face.
We thank all the sponsors for their continued support in giving hope to children with parents in prison.
On 10th October 2017, 72 children visited their parents in 5 prisons namely: Luzira Upper, Murchison Bay, Nakasongola, Jinja and Kitalya. This time, they were accompanied by a team from Partners in Hope USA; Lawson Martin, Brooke Skypala, Erik and Alana Mitchell. As always, they were accompanied by Wells of Hope staff. Despite the heavy rains in the morning, the children were still enthusiastic; as some sang on their way to prison.
In all prisons, children were warmly welcomed by the prisons personnel, went through security checks and were ushered into the waiting rooms where they met their parents.
Below were some of the highlights:
Luzira Upper Prison;
Unlike the other visits, this time the inmates in both Codemn and Boma were merged in the same room and so it was one big happy family.
Upon arrival, the children quickly identified their parents and with big and warm hugs, they expressed their joy of seeing them.
Parents were seen engaging their children in prayer before they shared a meal; it is such a great joy to see the parents eagerly serving their children because they do it with so much joy and love.
Interactions made with the parents of the children were wonderful and all of them are very grateful to the fact that Wells of Hope has intervened; and that it is helping with making the future of their children bright; fathers were thankful to Wells of Hope that their children are going to school and know how to speak English and write.
The visit was climaxed with a song and dance from the children; they learnt them during the camp held last month and the title of the song was “I am not forgotten.” Parents happily cheered on their children as they repeated some lines in the song.
Rebecca Namatovu met her father for the very first time; her sisters Sarah Nalubega and Rose Nasamba who had spent two years without visiting their father were so excited to meet him, they shared with him about the stories at home and how everyone was doing ,he encouraged them to work hard in class and be disciplined children . He prayed for his children and promised that he would be back to them soon.
Simon, a dad to Irene Kiyai, Doreen Nakiria and Peter Ojangole was so excited to see his children for the first time this year; this is because at the beginning of the year he was transferred to Mbale prison where he was going for his appeal. He was filled with joy to inform his children that his sentence was lessened from 40 years to 7 years and he still had an opportunity to have his sentence reduced further. The children were so excited and thankful that their father’s sentence had been lessened; Irene was seen shading tears of joy. He continued to encourage them to work hard in school and be disciplined children because discipline is the key to success.
In the Main prison, Latif Walekwe, Yasuri Walekwe and Enock Segawa, were happy to see their fathers and the inmates equally happy to see their sons growing so tall and taller than their fathers. The inmates were all praises for Wells of Hope, Enock’s father thanked Wells of Hope for his son who is going to sit his senior four exams, because if it was not Wells of Hope, Enock would have given up on studying.
At the women prison, the women were excited to see their children, Ellen Eva, Alana and Erik Mitchell. They appreciated Wells of Hope for not only bringing their children to see them but also visitors who are also supporters of the ministry from the US; this was very important for them. Later, the mothers shared a lovely meal with their children and the visitors.
It was an exquisite moment seeing the inmates praying for their children who are candidates: Stanley father to Enock Segawa in senior 4, Bonny (mother) with 2 candidates; Catherine in Primary seven and Hellen Agumuniitwe in Senior 4.
At Kitalya, this golden opportunity had the children excited. David and Annet could not hide the anxiety of seeing their father for the first time. Betty Nabulondera too could not wait to see her father another time and to tell him too how she too felt.
Yuda, father to David and Annet was very happy to see his children and with a radiant smile on his face, he expressed his joy of seeing his children. He said with a rather sullen face that it had really been a long time without seeing Annet and had never seen David since he was imprisoned. The parents shared merry moments with their children.
The children and the parents expressed tremendous joy upon seeing one another; “Wow! I can’t believe that you’re this big now!” Angela Nawangi’s dad exclaimed in excitement after seeing his 7 year old daughter. The parents and their children were engaged in deep conversations; with wide smiles and loud laughter, one could tell that they enjoyed one another’s company.
The parents later reviewed their children’s academic progress with Ben: they expressed gratitude to Wells of Hope for all the support rendered to their children; and encouraged their children to trust God and put in more effort in their studies so that they don’t end up like them.
We thank Partners in Hope USA for facilitating the visit.
We are glad to report that Partners in Hope (PIH) USA represented by Lawson Martin, Brooke Skypala, Erik and Alana Mitchell served at Wells of Hope Uganda from 5th to 11th October 2017. The aim of the trip was to be engaged in activities at Wells of Hope; and see how the lives of children with parents in prison as well as their families have been impacted through the organization. They donated a sound speaker, a DVD player, shoes, computers and mosquito nets to the children.
During their visit, they interacted with the children with parents in prison at Wells of Hope Junior School and Wells of Hope High School; they interacted with the children’s parents in prison; interacted with 3 inmates’ families in Kayunga District – Central Uganda.
On 6th October, the PIH Team visited the schools and were delighted to see the amazing work being done.
On 7th October 2017, the PIH Team interacted with the children’s parents: Erik encouraged the inmates to embrace forgiveness in their hearts; Lawson encouraged them to stand firm amidst the suffering that they were going through because suffering produces patience and hope; and to look at eternity because everything on this planet is temporary; Brooke encouraged them that regardless of what they had done, God accepts them and that they’re His children; and Alana encourage the inmates to always search themselves and ensure that they are on track. The inmates were extremely happy and expressed their gratitude towards the visitors for the continued support towards their children.
On 8th October, the children engaged the visitors in a praise, worship and prayer session; and they entertained them in music and drama. Some of the children shared their testimonies and expressed their gratitude to Wells of Hope for giving them hope in life; they were thankful to the organization for the free education, care and support. Brooke engaged the children in an activity; the children were told to write down what they treasured in life. She encouraged them to hold onto their dreams and continue trusting God.
We were delighted to see Lawson, Brooke, Erik and Alana officially open the new dormitory at Wells of Hope Junior School on 8th October 2017; the children and Wells of Hope staff expressed their joy during the celebration
On 9th October 2017, the PIH Team visited three families of inmates: in one of the families they visited, a teenage girl was caring for all her siblings and cousins because the father is in prison and the mother abandoned them. The girl could not stop crying because she was; lonely, desperate, had lost hope, was starved, and was ill.
In another, a mother was caring for 10 children none of whom were getting an education.
And in the other, a family member was caring for the prisoner’s child but had just recently been stolen by an aunt; probably to be sold as a child laborer.
On 10th October 2017, despite the early morning shower, we were privileged to accompany the children to visit their parents in prison. It was a memorable day as the PIH Team joined Wells of Hope to accompany 72 children to visit their imprisoned parents in five different prisons. It was a joyful day as all the children and parents interacted with one another.
On 11th October 2017, the visitors interacted with mothers and grandmothers of children with parents in prison. The mothers and grandmothers shared their testimonies about how Wells of Hope has positively impacted their lives and were very thankful to the sponsors of the organization.
We thank the PIH Team and all our sponsors for their continued care and support for the children with parents in prison and their families
Annually, Wells of Hope (WOH) holds a Teenagers Camp for children with parents in prison as a way of helping them cope with having a parent in prison. We are glad to report that this year, the organization hosted 11 volunteers from Camp David of the Ozarks (CDO) who conducted a very interactive and educative camp for all the children under Wells of Hope care. The theme was Live Fearless; and the aim was to empower and equip the children. The camp was conducted from 23rd – 30th September 2017 at Wells of Hope Junior School. The Team from CDO was led by Benjamin (who the children preferred to call Papa Big Heart) and Grace (who the children preferred to call Mama Rose) Smith who are the founder and Director of CDO respectively. They were accompanied by 9 volunteers; 5 of whom were male and 4 were female.
On 23rd, the team from CDO interacted with the WOH team at the head office where they got to know more about Wells of Hope and what the organization does.
Benjamin and Grace later shared about Camp David of the Ozarks and how children had been positively impacted by the camps conducted back in the United States. The team expressed their enthusiasm about interacting with children with parents in prison at Wells of Hope
On 24th, the team headed to Wells of Hope High School where they interacted with the children in secondary; and then accompanied them to the Junior School which was the camp site
Upon arrival at the camp site, with glee and wide smiles on their faces, the children expressed their joy on seeing the visitors.
The visitors were guided by Francis Ssuubi Wells of Hope founder and Charles Ocoper Wells of Hope Junior School head teacher around the Junior School.
Later, the children led the visitors and Wells of Hope staff through a worship and prayer session; they expressed their joy, thanking God for the journey mercies upon the visitors and enabling them arrive in Uganda safely. The highlight of the day was that the children were gifted with backpacks which comprised items like bibles, dolls, pens, journals, pencils, sharpeners, games, soap, sponges and toothbrushes; with wide smiles on their faces and shouts of joy, the children expressed their happiness upon receiving their gifts.
From Monday 25th - 28th September 2017, the children were engaged in different classes which were conducted by the team from CDO. The classes included: Ben’s class (a counseling session), crafts, dance, team building, creation class, sling-shots and Field games. The classes were conducted in groups which included: Diamonds, Pearls, Rubies, Emeralds, Jades, Lions, Panthers and Tigers; the first 5 comprised girls and the last 3 comprised boys. The sessions were very competitive and interactive. Each group comprised two Wells of Hope staff who were counselors. The volunteers from CDO were assisted by older children who were among the support staff. The older children were engaged in picture taking as well.
In the Crafts class, the children expressed their creativeness as they designed their photo frames and jewelry boxes.
During the class, they wrote and designed appreciation letters to their counselors and teachers.
In the Dance class, the children expressed their skills in dance; the classes were motivational bringing out the children's dancing talent and "I can" attitude which boosted their self esteem. The groups merged on Thursday and displayed the skills that they had acquired during the lessons.
In the Team Building class, the children learnt that in life, everyone needs to surround themselves with people because everyone is gifted differently. Reuben Scott encouraged the children to embrace teamwork and demonstrated this using a ball game.
In the Creation class, the children shared about appreciating God’s creation and were encouraged to always seek God and his wisdom in order not to be swayed by worldly desires
The children had a counseling session which was conducted by Papa Big Heart. The session was to help the children cope with having a parent in prison.
The children were encouraged to believe in themselves and that having a parent in prison did not necessarily mean that they would end up like their parents as long they decided to trust God for their lives. During the camp, the children were engaged in field games; the children learnt and enjoyed playing together and how playing is important to their health and competing positively.
During their free time, the children played other games like football, chess, tic-tac-toe; they built puzzles; the highlight of the week was the shaving-cream battle game. The children, volunteers and the counselors were very excited as they chased one another around; smearing shaving cream to whoever crossed their paths.
The children were engaged in Sling-Shots. During the sessions, they learnt about focusing and teamwork; while some collected stones, others made shots and every bottle shot at was a success for the whole group and any failure was for the whole group as well.
On Wednesday, the children displayed their talents in music, dance, mimes and skits. During the presentations, the participants were happily cheered on by their friends, the visitors and Wells of Hope staff.
The highlight of the day was that all the children celebrated their birthdays; every group/team accompanied by their counselors cut their own cake which they later shared and every group member got a bottle of soda.
The children were gifted with birthday presents from the CDO team; and among the presents included: sunglasses, sewing kits, dolls, slippers, among others.
On Thursday, the CDO team taught the children how to make s'mores using marshmallows. As an appreciation for participating in the camp, every child was awarded a certificate.
During free time, the visitors read stories to the children.
For all the days, the children, the visitors (CDO Team) and Wells of Hope Team shared lovely meals.
Every morning and evening, the children met in their teams for Devotions; the children were empowered spiritually with God's word.
As a symbol of their dedication to follow Jesus Christ, the children were baptized. It was such an emotional session as the children freely declared their faith; for some tears of joy rolled down their cheeks as they made their declarations.
During their visit, the visitors interacted with parents of children at Luzira Upper prison and Women prison Luzira. The inmates were very happy to see the team from CDO; the visitors encouraged them to trust in God no matter what they were going through and to spread the love of Christ to other inmates.
We thank the team from Camp David of the Ozarks and everyone they worked with for the wonderful time shared with the children and for the donations given.
Wells of Hope organized a two day psychosocial support meeting for grandmothers and spouses of prisoners under the theme “A transformed Mind, A transformed Community” and a total of 32 participants attended the workshop. The training was conducted on 3rd and 4th August 2017. The aim of the workshop was to empower caretakers of children with parents in prison with HIV & AIDs information, entrepreneurship skills and parenting skills. The facilitators of the workshop where experienced and professional social workers, doctors and counselors who tackled different topics.
The day was commenced with Devotions where Susan, one of the mothers encouraged her peers to put their trust in the Lord and rely on him for everything. She referenced the study from Psalms 123. After the devotions, two participants shared their testimonies; one was so thankful for the release of her husband which greatly encouraged the rest of the caretakers and the second participant was an Ex-Prisoner who encouraged the rest of the participants to pray for their imprisoned relatives because with time they come out of prison.
Ellen Eva Ssuubi (Mrs.) Wells of Hope Executive Director gave the opening remarks; she welcomed the caregivers and thanked them for honoring the organization’s request and turn up for the workshop. She mentioned that the aim of the workshop was to bring caregivers together as a family, meet together and see how they are progressing in life and check on how the organization was performing. She explained the organization intervention model to the caregivers and the organization interventions. She availed the theme of the workshop to the caregivers as “A transformed Mind, A transformed Community.”
Mrs Ssuubi said that the topics that would be taught would change our minds; their attitude towards work, life and other issues so that they could go back in their societies and transform them.
After the opening remarks, the caregivers were taken through an Entrepreneurship session. This was facilitated by Esther Ndibulima (Mrs). She took the caregiver in a series of activities with different sub topics but which all were connected to financial training. The different sub topics included: I can attitude, Business idea development & Market Research and Marketing. Esther told the participants to believe in themselves, take risks in order to reach somewhere in life. She encouraged the participants to utilize every resource that was in their community because from there, business could be formed. Esther challenged them by telling them that the greatest resource was human beings; “people despise the fact the others exist, but without man they are dormant.”
Esther urged participants to do the business perfectly with interest and love, have customer care, have commitment and overcome fear. She also advised participants to always do a survey in their areas before they start up a business.
Esther said there were different categories of capital like working capital which was a raw material like owner’s equity like livestock which one could sell off and buy a machine. She also said capital could be in form of a loan from bank, money lenders and relatives. So she urged members to identify sources of capital starting within their environment.
After the session, the caregivers showed enthusiasm to go back in their communities and utilize the resources they had to start or boost their businesses.
Some of the responses from the caregivers after the workshop included;
“I am so grateful that I participated in this workshop, it’s my first time to attend this workshop, it’s been the best and I am eager to learn more the next day” said Silvano, a grandfather of 2 children under Wells of Hope.
“I want to thank Wells of Hope for loving us to teach these wonderful topics, I have indeed learnt a lot, I do weave handbags and money purses so I have learnt how to look for market, how to treat my customers and the next time I come here, I swear I will have a testimony about a change in my business” said Deborah a mother of a child under Wells of Hope.
During the devotions, Iryn a mother of a child under Wells of Hope shared about worrying. She encouraged the participants to thank God for their lives & families because not everyone had been able to stay alive. She referenced her preaching from the bible scripture Matthew 6:25-26 from which she said that if God could take care of the birds in the air, then He was more than able to do so to human beings as well. She encouraged the participants to put their trust in God, to be thankful and surrender all their sorrows to God.
After the devotions, the caregivers made a recap of what was shared and what they learnt the previous day. This session was led by Jacqueline Sekyana Wells of Hope Communications Officer. Some of the lessons included: letting go of fear & Believing in oneself.
Later, the Ellen Eva Ssuubi (Mrs) Wells of Hope Executive Director, Marjorie Lunkuse Wells of Hope Deputy Executive Director and Stella Nabajja the Projects Coordinator took the caregivers through a session on Parenting. Ellen Eva Ssuubi said that parenting involved the way people raise their children; the children could be biological or adopted. She encouraged the caregivers to be responsible parents because they were their children’s role models.
She urged participants to appreciate parenting responsibility. She also talked about the needs of children which she categorized into three groups which included: material needs (like food, shelter & security), social needs (like family, school, religion & culture) and psychological needs (like parental love, values and beliefs). She urged the participants to take up their responsibilities and meet their children’s needs.
During the session, Ellen explained the Wells of Hope Intervention Model to the caregivers.
Marjorie took the participants through appreciating a child and understanding a child’s personality. She shared a story of an inmate who was about to be executed and requested to send a letter to his mother whom he believed was the root cause of him suffering death because she didn’t discipline him while growing up.
Marjorie urged the participants to discipline their children if they did something wrong and applaud them when they did something good. She told them that good habits could be learnt if adults in children’s lives played their roles
Stella encouraged the participants to know their children, understand their needs and love them. She used emotional faces that showed different faces of emotions that children showed which included: happiness, anger, sorrow, sadness, surprise and disappointment. She told them that most children show such signs but parents never take time to understand why they are sad, sorrowful or happy
We were privileged to have facilitators from the AIDS Information Center who led the session about Health Education and HIV/AIDS awareness.
They taught the mothers the need for knowing their Sero status and how they could prevent themselves from acquiring the HIV virus. Dr. Ashiraf took the participants through an interactive session of what HIV & AIDs is, how HIV&AIDS is acquired and how we could avoid it.
Dr Ashiraf emphasized the need to test for HIV because it helps to keep one safe from acquiring the HIV virus and keeps one’s consciousness clear; not worried if they had or didn’t have it. Out of the 32 participants 26 tested for HIV & AIDs. He also taught about cervical cancer where he said cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. Other causes included having many sexual partners, smoking, taking birth control pills, and engaging in early sexual contact. He said that HPV infection could cause cervical dysplasia, or abnormal growth of cervical cells.
Dr. Ashur also said that uncircumcised men could cause cervical cancer to their female partners. He said that the body has the cells to fight it but if it over grows the body becomes weak; the virus affects the cervix, in most cases the uterus has to be removed or surgical operation has to be done to cut off the diseased part if the cancer is detected early.
Dr Ashur encouraged the female participants to test since the screening was free as was being provided by Wells of Hope and it was being brought nearer to them. He said that in most hospitals, such screening was at a fee which in most cases was not affordable for low income earners so such an opportunity ought to be utilized. Seven clients turned for breast and cervical cancer screening, five of them were negative with no signs and no one with posture signs for breast cancer, two female clients turned out with positive signs and were referred for further investigation; he noted that the two clients with positive signs on screening didn’t have cancer simply they have positive signs on their cervix.
After such an amazing and educative workshop, the participants received donations from Woolworth Uganda who are friends and supporters of Wells of Hope; the caregivers expressed their gratitude for the continued support from Woolworths Uganda.
Stella gave closing remarks by thanking the participants for attending and participating in the 2 days workshop. She concluded by urging the participants to practice what they had learnt and assured them that Wells of Hope would carry out follow ups to assess whether what they were taught had created a great impact.
All throughout the workshop, the sessions were interactive. The caregivers were refreshed with a appetizing breakfast and lunch. The day was concluded with a closing prayer from a participant after which participants departed to their different areas of residences.
We are glad to report that on 27th July 2017, 82 children visited their parents in prison; 5 prisons; 16 of these were visited their parents for the first time. The children were so happy to meet their parents and the parents too were overwhelmed with joy upon meeting their children. They visited Women Prison Luzira, Luzira Upper Prison, Kitalya Prison, Jinja Prison and Nakasongola prison. The children were accompanied by Wells Of Hope volunteers.
11 children visited in Women Prison Luzira, 53 children visited in Luzira Upper Prison, 3 children in Kitalya Prison, 7 children in Jinja Prison and 8 children in Nakasongola prison.
Below were the highlights of what transpired in the different prisons;
Women Prison Luzira: The mothers had prepared a lovely meal for their children and they tried to provide scholastic materials along with some basic needs for them like plates. The most life awakening moments at a time the inmates met their children after a long time. As the children waited for their mothers in the waiting room, Frank 8 years one of the children who was visiting his mother for the first time said that his father had tried to explain to him how his mother looked like, but he wasn’t sure of what he looked like. When his mother came, tears of joy rolled down her cheeks; she couldn’t believe that she had finally met her son. Florence 15 years and Rachel 14 years were also in great amusement that they visited their mother after 7 years; they had a great moment to get together again. Their mother was amazed at how fast they had grown. Maria 9 years and William 14 years visited their mother for the first time as well; on seeing Maria and William, the beatific look in her eyes would not hide the joy she felt even though it was going to be short lived, the brooding face also made it clear that seeing her children alive, was another miracle. She said that Maria and William were going to be murdered at the time she committed the crime. Patrick (7 years) and Edith (7 years)’s mother was overwhelmed to see her children too; she kept on saying that her children were going to die because the community wanted to take revenge on her. She cried when her children sang and danced for her.
Upper Prison Luzira; 2 sections were visited that is BOMA and CONDEMN
In Boma section, the children found their usual spots where they usually interact with their parents as they started practicing their special presentation for the parents. There was a lot of anticipation as the children waited for their parents who later joined them. There was a lot of excitement as the parents hugged their children, others were seen engaging in an opening prayer with their fathers and were deeply engrossed in conversations. Parents later started serving their children the meals they had prepared, it felt like ‘home away from home’; they were all in high spirit with look in their eyes.
Nusula 5 years and Juma 10 years also met their father for the first time; they were quiet at first but with time they caught up and started chatting with their father, he was extremely happy to see his children and encouraged them to study hard. John, Mary Agono (17 years)’s father said, “ I am glad that my daughter is different from the other girls of her age I left in the village; she would be with 3 children by now, but because of Wells of Hope she is still in school. She challenges me, the fact that she speaks English so well.” Faith 10 years and Tendo 7 years also visited their father for the first time, the girls were very happy as they ran to meet and hug him. Ismail their father said “I am very happy to see my daughters; they are all grown up and beautiful, thank you Wells of Hope for taking care of them.”
Juliet 13 years and Jenifer 10 years, visited their father for the first time; he said, “I cant remember Juliet because when I was imprisoned she was light skinned and now she is dark skinned, I have to closely look at them because it has been a very long time.”
Later, parents assessed their children’s reports and encouraged them to read hard, they also had some food stuffs prepared for the children to take back with as they went back to school; it was a great thing to see parents provide for their children school necessities like basins, sandals, books, pens and pencils.
In Condemn section; the parents were very happy to see their children and expressed their gratitude towards Wells of Hope for taking care of their children.
The teacher who had accompanied the children assessed the children’s academic progress with the parents and they were very glad on seeing how greatly the children had progressed; they encouraged their children to read very hard and make sure that they balance their studies and other activities.
The highlight of the day was when all parents gathered and the children in lower primary made music presentations for them; it was very amazing because the solicitors were children who were rather quiet but were confident and they sang with very good English.
Jinja prison; The Prison Wardens were welcoming and they helped in calling the inmates (parents) who were undoubtedly expecting the children. After a few minutes, the inmates came in; they expressed their joy on seeing their children. Later, the fathers served a lovely meal which they had prepared for their little princes and princesses.
Ben the teacher who accompanied the children briefed the fathers about their children’s academic performance and shared their reports to which the parents cheered their children; and where poor performance was observed, the parents encouraged their children to perform even better.
The inmates said that they were so grateful to Wells of Hope for the great work; “we are seeing our children after 10 months and they have grown and look so healthy!” they exclaimed.
The children happily and with bouncy faces shared their well colored letters which were also a special moment, some asked their little ones to read their letters to them, which was so touching!
The Highlight of the day was when Angel Nawangi 7 years read her letter to her dad while she sat on his lap. The smiles that cut across her face made him sob a little, Angel’s dad later shared that he was arrested when Angel was only seven months and then to see her looking so beautiful and reading her own hand written letter to him was very astounding! He said that he had no exact words of how to thank Wells of Hope! He is hopeful that he will be released soon.
The children expressed joy and excitement all the way to Nakasongola prison.
At the prison, the children and staff who had accompanied them were warmly welcomed by the prison Officers who ushered them to the waiting areas in the two prison sections. In the men section, the fathers were delighted to see their children; they expressed their joy with hugs. They expressed their gratitude towards Wells of Hope for the support rendered to their children; and were later engaged in deep conversations with their children. The laughter and smiles on the children and their parents’ faces showed that they all enjoyed one another’s company. The parents reviewed their children’s academic progress and encouraged them not to give up on their dreams; “My son, continue trusting in God and he will definitely help you,” a parent was heard telling his son.
In the women section, the mothers welcomed their children with shouts of joy; with ecstatic gaze on their faces, they hugged their children and were astonished by their growth. They were later engaged in deep and very interactive conversations with their children. During the visit, they shared a lovely meal which the mothers had prepared.
The highlight of the day was a mother who encouraged all the children to always have a Godly character and be well-disciplined because these are a key to their success. “Thank you Wells of Hope for being parents to our children; before joining Wells of Hope, we were not sure how they would turn out but now, we are at peace.” another mother remarked. Annet Kampi, Wells of Hope staff member reviewed the children’s academic progress with the mothers. They encouraged their children to fully rely on God for wisdom so that He would guide them through their studies. The mothers expressed gratitude towards Wells of Hope for the initiative the organization took on to look after their children. The mothers joined by their friends shared a prayer with their children and then bade them farewell.
KITALYA PRISON: The children accompanied by Wells of Hope volunteers reached the prison safely and were warmly received by the prison officers. The inmates and the children shared snacks and encouraged the children to read hard. The Welfare Officer thanked Wells of Hope Ministries for all efforts made to have the visit but also most importantly for taking care of children the ministry has no attachment to.
We thank Mavuno Cloud 9 Cell from Mavuno Church for donating the funds for the prison visit; we thank them for their continued support for children with parents in prison.
Wells of Hope Ministries is proud to have hosted Prof. Rebecca Ginsburg from the Education Justice Project (EJP) of the University of Illinois. Rebecca was accompanied by her daughter, Anna Ginsburg 10yrs who is also a volunteer with the Education Justice Project; this visit took place from July 8th to July 17th 2017. The Education Justice Project is a unit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in Illinois USA. Education Justice Project provides college-in-prison programs that demonstrate the positive impacts of higher education upon incarcerated people, their families, and the neighborhoods. The Education Justice Project publishes Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry, a reentry guide which is free for Illinois prisoners. The guide identifies things to do prior to release and provides a list of resources for after release.
Working with Wells of Hope, Rebecca and Anna Ginsburg during their visit, together we carried out an assessment of the reentry landscape in Uganda and general needs assessment required to develop the Ugandan reentry guide.
The Education Justice Project’s reentry guide that they developed for the state of Illinois has been very successful. Learning from what Rebecca and team did through EJP we hope to develop a Ugandan reentry guide which we will probably call reintegration guide the best way its described in Uganda. This will be a booklet or a pamphlet that will avail information to inmates before they are released from prison and after they have returned back to their communities. The guide will identify things to do prior to release and will provide a list of resources for after release. It could have things like where and how to get a national Identity card, mobile telephone lines, HIV/AIDS services for prisoners who have been on special treatment and free legal services, how to continue with education for those who have been doing education programs in prison, how to get a job and many other needs. It will include information of contacts for counselors, employers, housing, healthcare and many more that can help formerly imprisoned persons plan their next steps.
During the study, we interacted with the different people that come in contact with inmates in Uganda, these included: the children whose parents are in prison at Wells of Hope High School and Wells of Hope Junior school, the Uganda prison officers, spouses of inmates, prisoners, civil society organizations which included: The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), and Franciscan sisters.
Rebecca Ginsburg interacting with spouses of prisoners
We learnt that many inmates who have spent time in prison endure untold poverty and un(der)employment, their families were ripped apart to unfathomed levels and there is a general sense of the need for criminal justice reform in Uganda. Primary needs of people leaving prison included means of support; accommodation; social support and understanding; healthy social connections; practical help (e.g. how to secure national ID, to access free health care); legal assistance, especially in dealing with land disputes; support to help them survive first few weeks especially if they have no family to help.
In the prison, they need: information about home; knowledge about how to go about life upon release; assurance that help will be available to them upon release.
People coming home are not all the same. Primary distinctions include: gender; class; length of time served; in condemned section or not; educational level; where returning to (e.g. Kampala, rural areas); Age of person reintegrating is another important distinction. Older people face different challenges than younger ones.
The study further showed that most of the men when released from prison, they often do not return to their families. Most prisoners feared to go back to their areas of origin because they feared the community would revenge and kill them; they were concerned that possibly they had not been forgiven for the pain and loss they had inflicted on the people they had offended. Information and resources that support family reunification or, at least, loving relationships between family and released parents, might change that.
We observed that social well-being is improved when all people are living full, meaningful lives, meeting their potential and able to form stable households and the Reintegration guide will be able to support this.
The Education Justice Project will continue to work together with Wells of Hope Ministries to produce a Reintegration guide for Uganda.
"Reducing Poverty By Supporting Children And Their Families" - 5th International Study Week On Children With Parents In Prison
We are glad to report that we held our Annual Study Week from 19th to 24th June 2017. This year’s theme was “Reducing Poverty By Supporting Children And Their Families.” We were glad to have Quniana Futrell an Author and a Children's Champion based in the US interact with children with parents in prison, their parents in prison, families of prisoners and Wells of Hope Team.
Upon arrival, Quniana expressed her happiness to have come to Uganda and was looking forward to getting to learn more about Wells of Hope and the work we do with children with parents in prison.
On Monday, Quniana interacted with some members of the National Children’s Authority (NCA) and Girl Child Network (GCN), Wells of Hope partners. She was accompanied by Wells of Hope staff who included: Ellen Eva Ssuubi Wells of Hope Executive Director, Marjorie Lunkuse Wells of Hope Deputy Executive Director and Jacqueline Sekyana Wells of Hope Communications Officer.
Mr. Kizza, the Executive Director for NCA talked about the transition of the NCA from the National Council for Children (NCC). They are responsible for carrying out independent Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) on issues about children.
He went on to say that the issues surrounding children with parents in prison have not been addressed yet and yet it is something that should be considered so that they are provided the services they need. The aim of the NCA is to strengthen advocacy and sensitize on planning and integrate early childhood development. In the end it will be able to deliver policy of how children can enjoy the services.
The second meeting of the day was with a partner organization called the Girl child Network (GCN) where Quniana and the Wells of Hope team met with Christine Adero the project coordinator and her assistant. Christine shared about the work that GCN does with girls in general and especially girls who are at Wells of Hope whose parents are in prison. She listed some activities they do such as; Mentor a girl child, Girl empowerment clubs and Skills trainings.
Christine said that through these activities, the confidence and self-esteem of the children has been greatly improved as she ensures that she gives these girls a platform to express themselves where they feel confident and protected so that they discuss issues without fear of the response of their teachers. Quniana was very impressed with the work that they are doing and encouraged them to keep up the good work as giving these children voice makes them feel safe and protected especially when amidst all other challenges your parents are in prison which makes them have less confidence
The final meeting of the day was at Wells of Hope Offices. Quniana was warmly welcomed by the Wells of Hope team. She was engaged in a meeting where she got to know more about Wells of Hope and what they do and was very impressed by all the work that is being done by Wells of Hope Ministries.
She later interacted with some spouses of prisoners under Wells of Hope care, who were mothers (of children with parents in prison) under the Tailoring programme. The ladies shared their life stories with her about how joining the Wells of Hope program has greatly helped them improve their livelihoods, one lady Susan shared that before when her husband had been imprisoned, she faced so many challenges and didn’t know how to look after her children to the extent that they were dropping out of school but with Wells of Hope, they supported her children and took them through school. Susan added that she also joined the tailoring program and learnt how to sew and can now even make her own clothes and her children’s clothes. She said that she was among the first team to graduate and every lady received a sewing machine from the organization and this has helped her to earn some money from home while working on that machine, and with that money she was able to join the savings group which was also started by mothers of children with imprisoned parents under Wells of Hope care and she can now save some money to look after her family even with her husband still in prison.
Quniana was very impressed with how far the ladies had come with the work they were doing and the efforts. She encouraged them to always put God first in all they do and continue with the hard work so that even with their husbands away they can manage to look after their children and always be there for them. She was very impressed with their work that she requested that they take her measurements and sew for her a skirt
Quniana interacted with the inmates under Wells of Hope care in Upper prison Luzira and Women prison Luzira. The visit was commenced by a meeting with David Okiling, the Welfare Officer at Upper prison Luzira, who praised the work that Wells of Hope is doing in prison especially the food supplements for the elderly and sick in prison as the prison only supplies one meal a day and so the supplements are very much appreciated. He went on to say that the prison does not have the capacity to support the prisoners’ families and they can only do such through the support of organizations like Wells of Hope that can reach out to the families and support them.
Quniana and the Wells of Hope team interacted with inmates on death row and those serving long sentences whose children are under Wells of Hope care. The inmates shared some testimonies about the work that Wells of Hope has done for them, which included educating their children, providing good welfare support to their children, among others. The highlight of the visit was that one parent stood up and shared about how his daughter came to visit him and he asked her to pray but she said to pray in English; though he could not speak the language, he was very impressed that she could pray in English and was very proud of her.
Quniana encouraged the inmates that their children love them very much and did not expect anything from them expect to just be there for them and always remember that there is nothing they could do that could stop their children from loving them. She went on to encourage them to always stay in touch with their children as that is all they need and not money. She encouraged them to keep the faith strong and they will one day be victorious.
Quniana visited the children with parents in prison at Wells of Hope Junior School.
Acompanied by Wells of Hope team from the head office, she was warmly welcomed by the scouts who were happy to receive her. Charles Ocoper, the head teacher welcomed Quniana to the school and gave her a brief introduction about the school. Accompanied by the scouts, he then guided her around the school
Quniana was then led to the classrooms where the children had prepared some presentations for her. The highlight during this session was the song sung by children in kindergarten; the children expressed joy as they sang a song welcoming Quniana to the school. With wide smiles on their faces, one could tell that they were very happy to see their guest. The other presentations included: a poem by the children sharing their plight about injustice and appreciation to Wells of Hope, a presentation about craftwork and a skit about good sanitation and health.
After the presentations, the children, Quniana and Wells of Hope team merged for a praise, worship and devotion session which was wonderfully led by the children. Sarah 15 years led the devotion and encouraged her friends to emulate Christ as in Matthew 25: 34-40. Her emphasis was on helping others
Quniana was entertained by the enyunyuzi children choir with their beautiful songs, dances and the great poem organized with the help of the Ellen Eva Ssuubi Wells of Hope Executive Director
Quniana thanked the children for everything that they did for her. She encouraged the children by telling them that whatever happens in life happens for a reason; that they should always be hopeful in life that all will be well. Quniana donated scholastic materials to the children which included: story books, puzzles, colouring books, among others, which she handed over to them with so much joy. The children were very happy to receive their items.
Quniana had some time to share with the children; she painted with them and also drew with them pictures. It was a great time for her and the children.
She had a one on one interaction with teenagers. She encouraged the children and told them that they should keep in mind their dreams and that they should make them come true and that she would keep praying for them. She also added that when they grew up, they should try and give their children a different life from what they had gone through. In addition, the Executive Director went ahead and encouraged the children not to feel ashamed about their parents in prison because they were not the only ones in the same situation
Quniana also interacted with the teachers at Wells of Hope Junior School. Quniana advised them that they should be able to understand the children with parents in prison because they are missing their parent in prison. Ellen Eva Ssuubi also advised the teachers to play their part and help in ensuring that the children have good discipline
Quniana accompanied by some Wells of Hope team members were hosted by Gloria Nanfuka, a presenter on the mid-morning show at 104.1 Power FM and later interacted with the children with parents in prison at Wells of Hope High School.
At the radio station the team talked about the effects of parental imprisonment on children and how the Uganda prison system is not supporting children with parents in prison.
They went ahead to discuss how the community can be engaged in the work being done by Wells of Hope through offering their time to mentor and support these children. Further, Quniana shared her experience about how it was like growing up with both parents in and out of prison and how her resilience and how God supported her to become a champion for children with parents in prison through her experiences. She emphasized that all that children want is love from their parents and all ex-prisoners should always be there for their children and always just need support them as children do not need their money but just need their love and their presence in their lives
In the afternoon, the team went to Wells of Hope High school. They were welcomed with a group of girls doing a traditional dance with drums, Quniana was so excited and very happy.
Charles Senoga , the school head teacher warmly welcomed Quniana and gave a brief introduction about the school and the different activities that the children are engaged in to include co-curricular activities that help the children cope with parental imprisonment.
After the brief introduction, Quniana was guided as she took a tour of the school. She was very impressed with how neat and organized the school was and thanked the head teacher for the good work. The children then presented to Quniana the art work that they had prepared for her.
The founder and a teacher of Biology made a presentation about the effects of parental imprisonment on children to include, trauma, PTSD, stunted growth, poor academic performance amongst others.
Later, the children led a wonderful praise, prayer and devotion sessions.
During the devotion study, Mary 17 years encouraged her friends to always believe that they have the power to change anything through believing in God, and referenced the study from Ezekiel 37.
The children presented a short play about effects of parental imprisonment. Peter 17 years and Mary 17 years shared their testimonies about how their lives positively changed when they joined Wells of Hope. One child said he had never seen shoes or even so many books in his life until when he joined Wells of Hope.
The children entertained Quniana in a traditional dance from Eastern Uganda which was very exciting and got many children happy.
Quniana encouraged the children to always be resilient in the work they do and to always ensure that they forgive their parents for the crimes they committed so that they can move on. She encouraged the children to always make sure they have a dream they work hard for so that they are successful in the future. The children welcomed this advice and promised to always work hard
Quniana was accompanied by Wells of Hope team members to visit two of the families of children under Wells of Hope care. With warm hugs, the family members of both families welcomed Quniana and the Wells of Hope team.
In the first family to be visited, Benaletta a grandmother of David 5 years and Annet 7 years (both at Wells of Hope Junior School) said that at first, she was scared of letting go of her grandchildren to Wells of Hope, but with the stories the children share with her during holidays, she became calm and accepted that the children were in good hands. Silivano, the children's grandfather was grateful for the help; he said that their grandchildren got shoes and eat well. “Ever since the imprisonment of our son, our family has been struggling financially & emotionally but with the intervention of Wells of Hope Ministries, we believe life will get better now that the burden of these 2 children has been reduced” said the grandparents.
Quniana encouraged the family to keep up doing the right thing and know that God loves them all.
In the second family, the mother of Harriet 7 years and Simon 9 years (both at Wells of Hope Junior School) expressed gratitude and joy for all the support Wells of Hope gives her, with tears of joy she said, “I really want to thank God for you people (Wells of Hope Ministries) because if you didn’t come, I don’t know where my children would be.”
Quniana was really impressed and touched by the mother’s story and resilience amidst her situation. She encouraged the family to continue trusting God, keep praying and believing in God because he cares and loves her family so much. She also encouraged her that she is not alone by sharing her story of how she also grew up in a struggling family
Day Six: Final Day
The last day of the study week was full of emotions and a lot of love from the group, Quniana was very excited and happy that the week had come to an end and that she had learnt so much.
The team shared some of their highlights of the week and Quniana thanked the team for being so professional and very caring and loving towards her and that she looked forward to the time she would come back to visit.
She was very happy that Wells of Hope encourages counseling as the children need it very much and Wells of Hope should always remind children that they are special and beautiful and that they are important.
We thank Quniana Futrell and everyone she worked with to ensure that she attends this memorable week at Wells of Hope Ministries. We thank National Children's Authority, Girl Child Network and Uganda Prisons Service for their continued support.
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