Deep Wells of Hope
An international study week on children of prisoners in Uganda
We were delighted to be able to attend this year’s international study week on children of prisoners in Kampala, Uganda. Hosted by Wells of Hope Ministries, the programme included meetings with charities and the Ugandan Prison Service as well as visits to schools, prisons, and family members’ homes. It was a week rich in opportunity to engage, reflect, and learn alongside international colleagues. Our Child & Family Support Manager, Sarah Roberts, was given an opportunity to share our development work with schools as well as deliver training to teachers and Wells of Hope staff, and she has returned buzzing with new ideas!
Headed up by Francis Ssuubi, Wells of Hope does exactly what it suggests, offering a deep well of hope to some of Uganda’s most vulnerable children and families. As with Families Outside, family support work is at the heart of what Francis and his team do, and they have extended this to include a designated boarding school for children of prisoners. Wells of Hope Academy currently educates 91 children affected by imprisonment. The focus is not only on education and the development of life skills, important as those are; children are also given the opportunity to build a relationship with their imprisoned parent and are taken on regular visits to the prison. It’s the only intervention of its kind in Uganda (and possibly also in Africa), and it quite simply changes people’s lives.
Like children in the UK, Ugandan children with a parent in prison experience loss, trauma, stigma, and shame. Unlike their British counterparts, however, they face additional risks: being sold into slavery, child sacrifice, and being forced into child prostitution. Add to this the challenges of no phone calls into the prison and very infrequent visits (once a year is considered good), and it is clear why Wells of Hope is such a lifeline.
To read Sarah’s blogs from the international study week on children of prisoners, visit our Facebook page.