AFRICA/UGANDA - Childhood denied for the Karamoja children, among misery and begging

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 childhood   street children   mission   human rights  


Karamoja (Agenzia Fides) - They sit all day, until two or three at night, at the edge of the streets, begging for a few pennies. They cannot have a hot meal, go to school, play, wash, feel safe and secure. They are children from the Karamoja area, one of the poorest in the northeast of Uganda, who are forced by adults to beg in the capital Kampala.
To counter this shameful social plague, fueled by the conditions of absolute misery in which these children live, Sister Fernanda Cristinelli, a Comboni missionary, is engaged in the start-up of a day-care center for children, where school support and reintegration family programs are promoted.
Sister Fernanda, on a mission in Uganda for ten years, another ten in Kenya, after a short period in Rome, is now back in Uganda, as coordinator of the office for women in the diocese of Moroto.
"The return to Uganda has put me in front of a phenomenon that I had never seen in Kampala years ago", she says in a note sent to Fides. "Children aged 3 to 10 and girls from 12 to 14, are on the streets, the busiest of the capital, who beg and in particular adult women who control them. The little ones jump towards cars in the unpredictable traffic of the streets of Kampala to beg and girls, with babies on their shoulders, do the same. In addition these children live in decrepit tents at the edge of the city, in the mud when it rains", continues the missionary.
"With the women in the diocese we have tried to create awareness and literacy programs. That is why we thought of creating a place near where they live, to accompany them to have a truly worthy life. For them a point of reference, where they can come, feel welcomed, play a bit, give them something to eat, talk to them is important. The goal of our project is to make them feel that childhood is something different from being on the streets", concludes Sister Cristinelli.
The diocese of Moroto has a population of 520,000 inhabitants, of whom 328,000 Catholics, 6720 baptized, divided into 11 parishes with 14 priests. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 7/11/2017)