Greetings from the House of Peace Orphanage in Kayunga, Uganda!
The Medicine for Sick Children Foundation has been very active recently with the House of Peace (HOP) Orphanage. We have been working with HOP since 2009, initially providing the orphanage with medicines as part of our medicine cabinet project. The current house for the HOP sits on 10 acres of land in the Kayunga Village. This land is owned by the orphanage director, Pastor Moses Kawooya (Pastor K), and it was passed down to him from his parents. The land is very fertile, and shows promise for the development of a farm. But a few months ago we got a call from Pastor K.
Pastor K informed us that the HOP in Kayunga had failed a health department investigation, and as a result, was closed as a government registered orphanage. Broken by the news and unwilling to leave the kids behind, Pastor K moved the children to Jinja, closer to his own home. Now, removed from where they grew up, and spread out around Pastor K’s neighbors willing to take in the kids, the children adapted to the new, cramped quarters in Jinja. This is when Pastor K called on us asking for help.
The Ministry of Health said that the House of Peace needed to construct a new pit latrine, as their old latrine was too close to the house (sanitary hazard), full of waste, and falling apart. They also said that a few improvements to the house needed to be done, such as fixing windows (to prevent insects from entering), painting the walls, and building a dish rack (for sanitary cleaning/drying of dishes). All of these improvements resonate with the core goals of the Medicine for Sick Children Foundation, and provide a sustainable impact on the improved health of the children. After meeting with Pastor K, hearing his concerns, and getting project estimates, we decided that we could help the House of Peace get up to code.
Construction started on the latrine on April XX. We decided to make the latrine 60 feet deep, which Pastor K estimated would last the orphanage over 20 years. We also ensured the latrine was placed at least 40 meters from the house, which was a health department regulation.
Work on the house started a few days after the latrine. First the floor of the house got resurfaced, along with the glass on the windows going in. The walls were washed, and we helped out with the painting! The dish rack was built, and the man who dug the latrine pit also helped to dig a rubbish pit.
As the paint went on, the house really started to brighten up. The few older boys who still lived at the HOP helped with a lot of the work, which helped save on labor costs.
We revisited the House of Peace on May 4th, 2014 to check the progress before the volunteers Margaret and Maxine returned to the United States. We were able to bring the children from Jinja to the House of Peace in Kayunga to show them the renovations. They hadn’t been to the HOP in 4 months, and the excitement of returning was very apparent. You could tell that this was where their home was.
This day was also a celebration of the work that we had done thus far. Many members of the village came out to show their gratitude for the work that was going on. Pastor K has been very involved in the village community for many years, which was apparent from the village community’s enthusiasm for the House of Peace reopening. The whole day was a great reminder of why we are dedicated to improving the health of children!
Construction at the House of Peace remains ongoing, but we expect it to be finished by Mid-May 2014. After this time, we will call back the health inspectors to have the House of Peace approved, and then the children will be able to come back. Our hope is this can be done before the next school semester begins!