Motta Africa is the founder of Baba Yangu Foundation; a Ugandan-based NGO working with less privileged Children who are exposed to the harsh realities of life at a tender age.
Motta reaches out to unparented street children who generally lack access to food, shelter and public school services due primarily to poverty. These children have no homes or were forced to desert them for places they thought would be safer. For a five – seven year old, that decision is hard enough to gauge; no child can fully grasp the risk. But more and more of them are taking to the streets of Kampala each day.
Through Baba Yangu Foundation, the 38-year-old and his team reach out with assistance inform of meals, medical care and most importantly spiritual guidance.
Baba Yangu Foundation also encourages the street youth to engage in different livelihood/service skills training that will help them to have sustainable income generating activities
Growing up with a passion
Motta Africa, the last born of three boys raised by a single mother, spent his early life on the same streets that these Children live today. It is during his visit to Kisenyi, one of the largest slums in the middle of downtown Kampala that our correspondent noted that while he might not have all the resources to offer these children a life they hope for, he daily dwells among them and shares what much he has in every aspect.
Our correspondent’s observation was that majority of the people increasingly flocking kisenyi slums are women and children, and they come in well determined to do whatever it takes to survive. During this visit, Motta was in the company of well wishers including Michele Thomson, “The Honorables” actress Monica and several local leaders of this slum.
“Take me home! Take me home!”
Above is a statement one of the kids made when he saw our reporter step on the Kisenyi soils .
“A child from the street, living in the slums also has dreams that he wishes to attain. But, without guidance such dreams seem distant and unattainable in the face of the harsh realities that they sees growing up.” Motta remarked.
“They also have dreams – For the time I have had sharing and loving these children, I have come to realize that if given a chance they can become great citizens. Some of the children turn to pickpocketing and substance abuse just to fit among their peer.” He added.
Motta visits several shelter structures in Kisenyi which house countless children and women. Each night, each head has to pay about Shs 2000/= or else leave the structure for city conners and verandas. Many mothers store fat-rich tails of sheep from slaughterhouses just to be able to cook a fried meal for their young ones once in awhile.
Our correspondent saw almost all children carry small bottles with a small opening at the top, and a wet piece of cloth inserted.
“What are they using the bottles for,” he asked.
“They are sniffing petrol from the cloth,”Response came from one of the elderly men at a distance.
“Many abuse drugs due to peer pressure, relieve themselves from daily stress, forget the conditions they are in or to fill in the gap of boredom. The lady that sells this stuff is known to the community but all efforts to discourage her from selling such harmful substances has been unsuccessful. Their choice to abuse petrol puts them at great risk for serious health issues and dependency.” He added.
Not many of these Children and parents welcome strangers, but once you approach them with a common figure, they will let you in and smile on as they anxiously await a meal – Motta’s talk sessions are helping them come a step closer to realizing their future could be a sharp contrast of their present.
Therefore, Baba Yangu foundation protects the vulnerable group through sensitization, conducting interactive sessions focusing on effects and ways to protect themselves from falling victims of abuses, they also provide them with the referral pathways to report all cases and get medical and all forms of support.
From this little experience we had with Motta, who is also a gospel artiste and brother to famed ‘Ganga man’ singer Exodus, you will understand that his childhood in several ways prepared him for the heartfelt work he is currently doing among the youngsters who are daily challenged to make decisions that will determine where they’ll be a few years from now.