By Prim K. Tumuramye
The National Director for Compassion International Uganda, Mr. Lenny Mugisha has urged church leaders to embrace and affirm one voice to counter the plight of the Ugandan child.
Mugisha made the remarks while giving a key note address at the 7th Umbrella Partners’ Consultative meeting held at Colline Hotel, Mukono from 23rd to 25th January 2018.
Compassion started its work in Masaka district in the early 80s, reaching out to children who had been affected by the war and the HIV/AIDS scourge. The organizationcurrently operates in all the regions in the country.
The Umbrella Partners Forum is a body that brings together the top leadership of evangelical churches in partnership with Compassion International to release children from poverty using a holistic child development approach. The Umbrella Partners meet once in every two years to review the role of the church in reaching out to children.
Globally, Compassion International currently has 1,884,783 registered children under its sponsorship programme. In Uganda, Compassion is currently partnering with 376 inter-denominational evangelical churches to support 101,478 children to enable them live better and fulfilled lives.
The holistic child development approach implemented by Compassion International assisted projects focuses on four thematic areas of child growth; spiritual, cognitive, social emotional and physical aspects.
Mugisha informed the church leaders that currently there is a deliberate effort to focus on increasing partnerships in the northern region because of its history. The northern region suffered over two decades of insurgency that left many families devastated with homelessness, poverty and child headed families.
Pastor John Ekudu, the president of the Baptist Union in Uganda, speaking at the same event urged the church leaders not to just pray and lament about the sorry state in which children affairs in this country are run, but to arise and do something.
In 1990, Uganda ratified the Convention on Child Rights (CRC), meaning that Uganda has an obligation to implement children’s rights as stipulated in the CRC.Children in Uganda continue to grapple with challenges that deprive them of a decent living.
The vices of child sacrifice, child labor, early marriages and in some instances child headed families are still evident in most Ugandan societies.The strategy to overcome these vices is multi-pronged and calls for the intervention of different stakeholders to raise a fulfilled adult.
‘It takes the world to raise a child. Each one of us must take position and faithfullyplay our part to raise up a virtuous generation.’ Mugisha said.
Mugisha’s call to action comes at a time when society is more of inward looking in raising children than it was in the pre-modern era. Then the responsibility of raising children lay in the hands of the village. Today the phenomenon of each one for themselves and God for us all seems to have taken root.
The 7th Umbrella Partners meeting reaffirmed the commitment of church leaders in working out a better partnership that has an increased focus on ownership, capacity development and resource mobilization. The church leaders also committed to work as a team for the greater good of society and affirm the ‘one voice’ but not the only voice strategy to advocate for the Ugandan child.
Compassion International has a multi –decade history of child advocacy work in Uganda. By last year, over one thousand students had graduated from different universities in Uganda under Compassion’s Leadership Development Programme support.
Thousands have also been equipped with vocational and tertiary institutional skills during the close to four decades of this ministry’s existence.