My story of how i started the children's ministry
I am called Nambowa Ruth Bulyaba, the Executive Director/Founder of Another Hope Children’s Ministries (AHCM). I was born in 1979 and I have a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics with Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. Currently in the same university, I am taking a master’s degree in Statistics majoring in Biostatistics with a scholarship from Institute of International Education in New York. I am single and have no biological children yet however, the ones I have now, have given me the satisfaction.
I have ever worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation officer, Statistician or Data Manager. My last job contract ended in Dec 2008 and currently I have no job but hope to get one.
I do run an orphanage and a children’s home called Another Hope Children’s Ministries (AHCM), I started this ministry in October 2005 but officially registered in 2006 as a community Based organization (CBO) in Wakiso District and our registration number is WCBO/579/2006.
Why I started AHCM
By the time I started understanding as a child, I was staying with only one parent that’s my mother. She had a separation with my dad and there after got married twice but they all never worked out till she remained single. I got to see my father at the age of 18.
I don’t know all the children my father has but I do understand that he has over 40 children. He had around 10 wives or more. My mum had 12 children and we had different fathers; me and my brother Pastor Elijah we had one father, the 8th born had her different father, the 4 last borns had their father, the first born had his father, the 2nd born had her father, the 3rd born too had her father and the 4th and 5th borns had their own father. In my mum I am the 7th born.
My mother never stayed in any marriage for a long time or permanently and therefore she had to raise us all. Her source of income was coming from food stuffs that she used to sell (which she still does). This income was never enough to support us all, so the better suggestion was the older sisters to be married off one by one as the approached 13 years (this is the same age my mother was married off). The 2 older brothers had to go and start working and start their own life (that was the 1st and the 5th born) before they were 18 years old. Elijah was sent to a relative who raised him and we are grateful for her because she paid much of his school fees till in secondary level when my mother and Elijah had to start the struggle. (Pastor Elijah also has a big story to tell, thank God he is a Pastor now). The 8th born was also sent to a relative. Imagine splitting us yet our parents were both alive.
After the marrying and splitting, we then remained me, my mother and the last 4 born. I was the oldest then (6 years) besides my mother. Though we remained few, still the income from food stuffs was not enough to help us. This only created more room for us because now a room that was for 13 people had now remained for 6 of us and my mother too had a chance to sleep straight (before her and the older children could sleep seated because the place was not enough for all of us to lay straight ). Because the income was not enough, this meant I had to also help my mother raise more money by also selling food stuffs. As my mother went to the villages to collect food stuffs for sell in the town where we were, I remained behind to take care of my 4 young sisters and brothers and at the same time sell food stuffs that she had left unsold.
I used to attend class, then come back home at break time to feed the children (the school was near to where we were staying and they understood our struggles so they were cooperative in any way).
Also at lunch time I could help in serving customers at a small restaurant that was operated in the same room we were sleeping (during the day we put together all our beddings to allow the operation of the restaurant). She could leave home to go to the market to sell the food stuffs when food is cooked ready for me to serve customers at lunch time.
Due to the fact that some nights we stayed in the house alone with me as an older person while my mother goes to look for food stuffs in the villages, at the age of 7 I was raped by our neighbor (I thank God that during that time HIV had not circulated otherwise I would have contracted HIV and may be dead by now). I got wounds in my private parts that I suffered with for about a year but never told anyone. This tormented me for a long time till I shared it to a Pastor in a youth conference that I was attending at age of 20 after a 2nd rape.
When I was eight years old, one of my younger sisters who was a twin died of measles and at the age of 10 years, we lost our last born due to floods. We were staying a slum area and when it rains in the night we have to stand because water enters into the house. This time my mother was not in the house, she was admitted in hospital. When it rained, it was so heavy that we failed to realize it at the start, by the time I work up water was at a high level in the house, I work the young ones to stand, and little did I know that the last born was not woken up. So in the morning, I rushed to prepare food that I did take to the hospital to my mother with one young sister, she asked how we were and I told her we were all fine not knowing that Paul had died in the flood. When I went back home, I found neighbors gathered and they told me my brother was very ill and they have taken him to the same hospital my mother was, I rushed back and found that actually they had taken a dead body because he had died some time back. This has been one of my worst experience give the proper care to him yet I was old (10 years).
I worked so hard with my mother, we shared responsibilities, she pays school fees and I pay for scholastic materials. I used to perform so well in class despite all the trouble I went through. I managed to finish my secondary level but did not get a government sponsorship. My mother promised me that she will work had to put me in the university and I was so happy. She did for sure work hard but in my 2nd year at the university, she got pneumonia and she could not pay my tuition and other necessities because she was admitted for 3 months. I had to involve myself into a love relationship not for love but to be able to get some financial assistance because the food stuff I was selling could not meet all my family needs and I had to pay my mother’s hospital bills too. (My mother had been a prostitute one time but thank God she didn’t contract HIV).
I managed to finish my 2nd year but in 3rd year (my final year) in the 2nd semester, things got tough but the church I have been attending since the age of 13 helped me to raise my tuition balance and I did my exams and finished the degree.
Mean while when I was in senior 2 our 1st born died of HIV/AIDS and left one orphan, when I was in my senior 6 vacation, the 4th born also died of the same disease and left 3 orphans and while I had just completed my University in 2002, the 3rd born also died of HIV/AIDS and left 2 orphans. I personally looked after them and watched them slim each day, AIDS is a deadly disease, I have experienced this. They died in pain, bad memories for me.
Therefore my mother has lost 3 of her children to HIV, one to measles and the other to floods. This makes it a total of 5 dead children and now 7 of us are still alive. Me (I look after orphaned, street and poor and also I am a youth leader and an usher in our church), Pastor Elijah (he is an assistant pastor in our church and he runs an evangelical mission called Living Hope that goes to un reached places of Uganda to preach the gospel), Rachael (Gospel musician), Kato (instrumentalist in our church), Lydia (Chief usher (head of ushers) in our church), Rehemah and Kyeswa are just church goers. My mother is an elder in church and also she is an usher.
With all those orphans, the family grew bigger again and bigger responsibilities for me and my mother. By the way from the age of 6-13 years, sometimes we could go without food or one meal. We could sell food in a restaurant but we could eat left-overs of customers, is that strange.
Despite of all the struggles, my mother used to cook food every Sunday and we could take it to the streets of Kampala (the capital city of Uganda) and serve it to the street children and the poor. She did this for 5 years and later she started feeding poor people at church every Sunday which she is still doing up to now. She is now 65 years old and she has so far lost 4 teeth, I hope to buy her teeth to fill the gaps.
Core of starting AHCM
Because of all the struggles and the suffering I went through, despite the fact that I had both parents alive, I realized that orphans must be suffering a lot more because they have no one to care for them. I pledged to God that if He can help me through the suffering and I finish school without being married off then I will help the orphans, especially those orphaned with HIV/AIDS. Sure God did it and I was not married off, I finished school well. Actually my 2 young sisters look much older than me and one of them got married when she was 18 years and the other got a baby when she was 22 years.
I had thought that I will at least help 10 orphans as a means of paying back to God. When I finished school I got a job and told my mother about my pledge to God, she was so happy and she agreed to stay with the orphans that I would have got while I go to work (my first 2 jobs were 120 miles away from her so I could visit every weekend). On top of my late brother’s and sisters’ orphans I added more 5 from the community I was staying in and I started helping them and feeding them, paying their school fees to mention but a few. People used to tell me that I should think about myself not other people because I suffered a lot and they watched me suffer now it’s time for me to enjoy. But because I had a pledge with God, I had to fulfill it because he had brought me that far and people could not see that it was God.
In 2006, there was a lot of child trafficking in Uganda, and the government announced that if any person is leaving with people they are not related to then they should let the government know. I went to the government office since I had the 5 orphans that were not related to me, they did advise me to register as a community based organization. I searched the community that would have affected a lot with HIV/AIDS and it’s not having international organization and this was Wakiso district. So I did go to the district offices and they registered me as a community based organization (registration number is WCBO/579/2006).
I did focus much on the HIV/AIDS orphans because these are the orphans that are neglected most by the community and relatives since most people think that they are infected too with HIV/AIDS virus from their mothers. Yet the truth is most of these children don’t contract the disease from the parents especially with the PMTC program now (Prevention of Mother-baby transmission). For instance the HIV/AIDS orphans I have only 4 have HIV/AIDS that they contracted from their parents, the rest are negative. The 4 infected children get free HIV treatment from one of the leading peadiatric HIV/AIDS center in Uganda, the only challenge I have I nutritional food and transport to the clinic for these children.
Also I didn’t forget 2 categories of children that suffer a lot; 1) those children that could be in the same situation like I was in (‘children from poor and single parented families’) and 2) children on the street because they are like orphans, they have no one to turn too.
After registration in Wakiso district, I rented a house in one of the villages in Wakiso (Nansana) and this is where I moved in with the 10 children and God helped and I got a job in Kampala, which was around 7-10 miles away from the home. After one year, the number went on increasing because I saw there were so many orphans and needy children to help. Actually as I talk now, there are 47 children in the home and I have limited the number to this because I don’t have support.
Sources of funding
• The main source of income has been my salary but now I have no job.
• Art & crafts that children make
• AHCM T-shirts
• Music DVD performed by the children
• Sometimes from international volunteers that come to volunteer with us (give material, financial and physical support).
• International Visitors & friends
• Sponsors of children (at the momet we have 14 children sponsored)
I have 5 full time staff I am working with and I pay them a monthly fee. I also have 2 staff who are just volunteers, I just meet their transport expenses and 3 that part time with us.Also some times we have international volunteers (we starting receiving volunteers on 14th Dec 2007).
Rent: sometimes it’s had to raise the money and the landlord always is on our neck to pay for 3 months at a time.
Food: major challenge, sometimes we go with one meal a day except for the 0-3 year children and those that are HIV infected are give extra meals
School fees: in 2008, 5 of our children actually never attended school because there was no money.
Medication: mainly rely on local herbs from trees and other plantations because these don’t need a medical examination. We have received drugs from international volunteers but we sometimes can’t afford to pay for a doctor or nurse to come and examine the children so as to prescribe the right drugs.
Loan : I have always got salary loans to help meet the costs of the children and as I write I am still paying off a loan and now it’s a challenge to me since I have no job at the moment.
Construct a children’s home
Pay off the loan
Start a farming project to help supply food on a continuo’s basis
Expand the Art & crafts project so as to increase the income base
Expand a poultry project as an income generating activity that will help sustain the children’s home.
With the Art & crafts and poultry projects, I believe that Another Hope Children’s Ministry will be a self sustaining Ministry hence not relying on donations only.
If you would like to stand with us in away, please you are welcome.