3 October 2008

Uganda: 50 Years of Nsambya Babies' Home

Kampala — Last Saturday, Nsambya Babies Home celebrated 50 years in existence.

In 1958, a group led by Rev. Fr. Rawlinson, the then General Secretary to the Episcopal Conference of Uganda, founded what later came to be called Child Welfare and Adoption Society.

Rawlinson had during the course of his work, come across many missions caring for orphans and needy children without any subsidy of any kind. He wanted to provide better and centralised care for children. He envisaged a system where social workers could trace relatives of the children and arrange for their rehabilitation among their relatives.

The home started as a voluntary organisation. In 1962, it was taken over by Uganda Episcopal Conference and called Catholic Adoption and Child Welfare Society. It took over Iganga and Moyo babies' homes.

According to the home's history records, the society first had an office on Kampala Road but the premises became too expensive for the young society. Rev. Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni then gave them a home at Catholic Secretariat in Nsambya. In 1965, Kampala Archdiocese constructed for them a home at Nsambya Church road, with financial support from an anonymous Charitable Trust in England.

As time went by, it expanded to include the children homes in Ibanda, Moroto, Kitgum, Lira, Jinja, Nateete, and Kankobe.

In 1999, the founders decided to let the different homes run independently under the respective dioceses. The Child Welfare and Adoption Society now runs Nsambya Babies Home, Natete Family Group Home and Kankobe Children's Home in Mpigi District.

According to the welfare officer, John Kasule, the cases of parents dumping children born with HIV/Aids on the streets and filthy garbage skips are increasing, especially in Kampala. He says the traced parents, claim they have no resources to look after an HIV positive child.

"For most of them, it is poverty and misunderstandings in homes which lead to such brutality," Kasule says.

He says Nsambya Babies Home alone rescues 15 abandoned children and resettles another 15 every year. Currently, the home houses over 167 children, under the care of 13 members of staff.

"When the children are brought to the babies' home, they are screened for various illnesses and those found to be HIV positive are taken to centres providing HIV care and treatment such as Mildmay Child Aid Centre," Kasule says.

He however called upon everybody to take the responsibility to identify and tackle conditions that may force children to go on the streets or to be abandoned by their parents.

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