Doreen’s Story: Can you help Home-Start Uganda?

Charles Mugasa, National Director of Home-Start Uganda, describes the dire situation that many of our Home-Starts are facing across East Africa, not just in Uganda. Home-Start Worldwide is appealing for donations to assist these schemes with food and basic amenities. Read on to see what Charles has to say… 


Our HS families had just begun their journey to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and only to be disrupted by the unprecedented ongoing Ukrainian crisis that has caused a sharp rise in fuel prices that in turn have precipitated a scarcity of essential commodities and high prices, particularly food.  I’d like to take a moment again to highlight the challenges of chronic and severe malnutrition among vulnerable children in some Home-Start areas in Uganda. The lack and access to food including other basic needs are still real, this puts our clients’ lives, especially children and their caregivers, in jeopardy as well as our own.


On normal routines of home visiting, our Volunteers truly experience tough situations, coming into direct realities of the injustices of life for so many children and families. Our Volunteers work in the slum areas of Kampala City and deep poor rural areas of Kabarole, Gulu and Bwikwe. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, desperate parents have begun travelling to volunteers’ own homes seeking relief food instead of waiting to be visited by the volunteer.


Last week Doreen, frail and still on medication, desperately walked all the way from Kisota, a poor urban village in Kampala, accompanied by her youngest daughter Maria to find Home Start to help her. Our Scheme Coordinator, Bernard encountered her on the way. Bernard discovered that Doreen was a widow and HIV positive and with her 3 children aged 3,4 and 7 all living under a tree covered with old paper boxes and a torn tumpline. She had been unable to pay the monthly rent of $50, which was six months in arrears and so they were evicted. 


Two out of three of her children are under the age of 5 and HIV positive. Her oldest daughter had to drop out of the UPE school and got hired by a neighbour to sell mangoes on Kampala streets to earn some money to save her siblings from dying of hunger! Doreen was so weak and feeling dizzy that Bernard had to help her walk and later hired a boda-boda to take her back to her makeshift home. He discovered that the children are all suffering from malnutrition and the awful pain of hunger. This family needed urgent assistance and Bernard had to seek immediate food that was secured from the Good Samaritans group at a Local Church and also organised a temporary house to live in. We are in the process of finalising a plan for a longer-term solution to help this family.


So, I share this with you for Doreen and every Ugandan woman living in similar or worse realities. With so many children suffering, and women abandoned to care for them alone, some days it just feels overwhelming! I say this as I also share that we are making headway, that with hope of finding new partnerships, Home-Start is and will continue to identify children in dire need and we will continue to ensure they receive the immediate, urgent and critical support they need to grow and thrive.


The cost of providing emergency food parcels and detergents is only £25 per household, but any gift will help!


Please follow this link to find out more about how Home-Start Worldwide is supporting Home-Start schemes in Africa and what you can do to help these desperate families: