Families once vulnerable to trafficking find stability and hope

A widow who was left in destitution to care for seven children found security, stability and hope for a brighter future thanks to a community project pioneered by Hope for Justice.

Life was bleak for Pendo; she was overworked, exhausted, and living in poverty, while fending for herself and her family in Uganda. Many of her children were required to work instead of attending school to enable the family to afford just one meal a day. They had to carry out hazardous labour, such as fetching water, washing clothing and selling items such as books, bananas and wafers on the streets of the capital. Their work helped to supplement the family’s monthly income of 300,000 Ugandan shillings – the equivalent of £65 or $85.

The 35-year-old mother said: “I had lost all hope. I was desperate. My teenage children were not in school and we did not have a strong relationship. I had to force my children to go and work so that they could contribute to the family income, risking being arrested by the city law enforcement officials for illegal street vending.”

She was caring for five of her own biological children as well as her one-year-old and 13-year-old nieces who had been abandoned, and her poorly 60-year-old mother.

The family, who live just outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, were highly vulnerable to child abuse and at risk of exploitation.

Hope for Justice teams recognised their plight and decided to take action. So last year, we connected Pendo with a social and financial group in her small village. The savings group, which is built on community cohesiveness and trust, enabled Pendo (pictured here with members of her family) to save money and take out a loan.

She has since become the group’s welfare officer. “My capital has grown and I make a profit daily,” she said. “My children are in school and we can afford three meals a day. The welfare fund saved my daughter’s health and education; it enabled her to access medical care after she collapsed at school during her national examinations in November 2018. Today her prospects are greatly improved because of the examination certificate she was able to acquire.”

The family was also enrolled on a parenting course, which has helped Pendo to bring up her children in a stable home environment. It has taught her to set family rules, to develop a culture of respect and honesty, and to counsel her children so that they develop independence in the long-term.

Zaina, Pendo’s 17-year-old daughter, was enrolled on a skills training programme for children. With help from Hope for Justice, Zaina is pursuing her childhood dream of being a hairdresser and has been given a seven-month apprenticeship.

Hope for Justice has helped to transform this vulnerable family that was on the verge of abuse and exploitation by breaking the limitations over their lives and unlocking their potential.

*Names have been changed