HALO has five homes in Uganda and each home has a name and its own personality. Four homes are in Kampala and the fifth is in Gulu which is a town in Northern Uganda. The homes are simply named by the area of the city they’re located in. The greater Kampala area is broken down by districts and parishes. Each district and parish has a name. Our homes are located in three different districts but they are only about 20 minutes from each other. Each home has a unique vibe and I’d like to talk briefly about each home.
All of the Kampala homes are ranch style houses that are within a walled off compound. The yards are medium sized but with enough room for the kids to run around and play. The houses typically have four to five bedrooms, a small kitchen, one bathroom, and a storage closet. Each house also has a separate bedroom outside as well as an outdoor bathroom and kitchen which are standard features for houses in Uganda.
Mengo Home– The Mengo home is an all girls home with 22 girls ages 9-18. About half of the girls are 13 or younger so the home has a very youthful feel. The girls love to play with each other so they are always playing games, dancing, and hanging out as a group. The majority of the Mengo girls enjoy dancing and singing. They choreograph their own dances and hold practices every week. The Bukesa boys, from the Bukesa home which is a short five minute walk away, usually join the girls for dance practice. Overall the Mengo home is a playful home with the sweetest girls who love a good giggle. It is always a joy to spend time with the Mengo girls.
Bukesa Home – The Bukesa home is a busy place filled with 21 rambunctious boys who love to have fun. Fun and silliness is the unofficial motto of Bukesa home. These boys love to run, jump, skip, flip, and fly around. It is near impossible to get one of the younger ones to sit down with you and concentrate for more than five minutes. They are always finding interesting ways of entertaining themselves. Sometimes I find them chasing the chickens around the yard. Sometimes half of them are up a tree doing who knows what. Other times they are all working together to take apart and repair old electronics they’ve found. I never know what I am getting myself into when I visit Bukesa home.
|Unloading food from the truck|
|I wasn’t kidding…Nathan and the chicken he caught|
|Karim! How did you grow your hair so long?|
|Typical. In a tree.|
Lungujja Home– The Lungujja home is a home for girls who were involved in prostitution. The girls are older and more serious than the Mengo girls. They are pretty typical teenager girls. They’re into clothes, music, and hanging out with their friends. The Lungujja girls are more interested in doing well in school and learning practical skills than playing and having fun. In their free time they like to sew, dance, and to spend time relaxing and chatting with each other. I deeply admire the strength and courage these girls have. They are learning how overcome their pasts and to be strong confident young woman who look forward to their future possibilities.
Makerere Home– The Makerere home is a home for older boys who were living on the streets. All but two of the boys in this home are older than 15 and all of them have had very hard lives. Due to the nature of their childhoods the Makerere boys are tough kids who do not like to show emotion. They are not really into playing as much as the Bukesa and Mengo kids are. Most of the boys are in secondary school so they spend a lot of time focused on school and doing homework. Despite their rough exterior they are really sweet boys who love deeply. They enjoy playing soccer and making crafts like beaded bracelets.
Gulu Girls Home – The Gulu home in Northern Uganda is quite different from the homes in Kampala mostly because of the cultural and structural differences between the two places. The Gulu home is in what we in Uganda call the bush or the village. The home has a lot more land than the Kampala homes and instead of being located in a city it is located in a rural farming area. The kids do not encounter the same distractions as the Kampala kids do because there are none of the features of a large cosmopolitan city. Gulu is a quiet and small town that has far less infrastructure than Kampala. The girls are very well behaved and the home operates in peaceful unity. The girls are very sweet and they love to perform plays and dances. They keep themselves busy each week by organizing game nights, debates, and intentional family time where they share and the mentors teach lessons. They also enjoy taking care of their garden. It is always a treat to visit the Gulu girls.