Ugandan OrphansAccording to UNICEF, approximately 65% of Ugandan minors are orphans and categorized as vulnerable children. Specifically, the country has 8 million children that are vulnerable and more than 2.2 million children who are orphans. The organization attributes these high numbers as the outcome of the AIDS pandemic. As a result, this leads to many families losing one or more parental figures in their household. Living conditions in the country lack both quality and quantity, with several structural concerns. This is especially prevalent for impoverished communities and worse for Ugandan orphans. Habitat for Humanity Uganda estimates that 900,000 housing units in the country are below standard and in dire need of upgrading. This is not including the extreme need for additional housing units across Uganda.

Inspiration to Create Weight of Glory Orphan Care

Weight of Glory Orphan Care is a nonprofit established by three college friends from Arkansas who are creating glory for Ugandan orphans. In 2010 Travis, Krystin and Megan spent a semester in college visiting the L’esperance Children’s Aid orphanage in Uganda. Within a couple of days, the three friends became invested in the connections they made with the orphans. They also cultivate a strong friendship with the director Wilbroad. During their five months stay, these three students viewed the orphanage’s daily struggles, especially as they planned to relocate in the near future.

Like many other orphanages, the L’esperance is highly dependent on volunteers and international donations. Upon arriving back in the U.S., the three friends kept in touch with Wilbroad. They discovered that in the relocation process to Lake Victoria, the orphanage had lost much of their regular donation support. In the summer of 2014, only 20 out of the 78 kids had a home. Additionally, many had to be sent to distant boarding schools due to a lack of education funds at L’esperance.

Establishing Weight of Glory

Travis, Krystin and Megan informed their communities of the difficulties the Ugandan children were suffering. They received support in tremendous ways. In addition, the support led to the realization that a U.S. based nonprofit organization that invests in orphaned kids in Uganda was a possibility. Within the first two years of establishing Weight of Glory, the nonprofit was able to assist in rebuilding a Kinoyo Kindergarten classroom. The classroom has the capacity for 120 children. Additionally, the goal of the Arkansas-based nonprofit is to produce sustainable solutions for Ugandan orphanages. As a result, it leads to the construction of a poultry farm that houses 1,000 chicks at L’esperance.

Weight of Glory Helps Ugandan Orphans

The Weight of Glory Orphan Care commits to creating sustainable projects that help the orphans directly. For example, sponsorship for 25 children at L’esperance, taking the primary role as an international partner and holding Gala fundraising events to educate the local communities about orphanages in Uganda. But one of the bigger projects that has had success is the read-a-thons at local schools. During this project, local U.S. children are educated about the daily lives of Ugandan children. The program also promotes donations that assist in providing school supplies to the primary school children in L’esperance. Additionally, they sell merchandise online that helps support their status as a nonprofit organization and goes directly to supporting Ugandan orphans.

From their time spent at L’esperance, the three friends discovered the four categories by which the children find support at L’esperance. Primary school orphans are dependent on the orphanage for their education from a very young age. Meanwhile, secondary school orphans are finishing their education through L’esperance. On the other hand, community students are residents of the local community with limited access to essentials such as food and clothing. These children are invited to the Kinyo Kindergarten at L’esperance for support and education from a young age. But the main group is resident orphans, who are completely dependent on the orphanage, from living quarters to education programs.

Megan, Krystin and Travis drew on their experience in Uganda to build the Weight of Glory Orphan Care nonprofit. The success of the nonprofit lies in partnering with local communities with international partners that can support the orphanages. These friends’ nonprofit is creating glory for Ugandan orphans by attempting to carry the heavyweight of caring and shining a light on the stories untold in global orphanages.

Sumeet Waraich
Photo: Flickr

orphans in africa
As the poorest continent in the world, the people of Africa face many struggles regarding poverty. These struggles impact the lives of children the most, and many are left orphaned and fending for themselves.

10 Facts About Orphans in Africa

  1. There Are Millions of Orphans in Africa
    In the entire continent of Africa, there are an estimated 52 million orphans. Statistics for orphans combine three groups, including those that have lost both parents, those that have lost a father and those that have lost a mother.
  2. Africa Is Home to More Than a Quarter of All Orphans
    With approximately 140 million orphans in the world, Africa’s 52 million make up more than 30 percent of the entire orphan population.
  3. Millions in South Africa Alone
    There are an estimated 3.5 million orphans in South Africa alone. As of 2014, 812,000 have lost both parents, 2.13 million have lost their fathers and 611,000 have lost their mothers.
  4. Close to a Quarter of African Youths are Orphaned
    In sub-Saharan regions of Africa, around 20 percent of the population under 18 is considered orphaned.
  5. Millions Orphaned by AIDS
    Approximately 32 percent of orphans in Africa have had a parent or parents die from AIDS. Many of these children suffer from the disease as well. AIDS continues to be a major epidemic in Africa, and the number of those affected continues to rise.
  6. Many Recent Orphans Lost Their Parents to Ebola
    Thousands of African children were orphaned by losing parents to Ebola. The Ebola epidemic was especially detrimental to West Africa at its height, spreading through many countries, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, leaving close to 4,000 children without parents.
  7. Orphans Lead a Difficult Life
    Many orphans have no support and are forced to fend for themselves as well as their siblings. This includes maintaining a household, providing food and working to support themselves as well as fund education and medical costs. Yet, because of their young age, orphans are often unable to find any kind of stable income. Fear and stigmatization of diseases such as AIDS also contribute to unemployment.
  8. Extended Family Members Are Unable to Provide Support
    Many orphans turn to extended family members for support, but they are often unable to provide it. Their extended family often includes grandparents and women, who tend to make 31 percent less than the average household.
  9. Foreign Aid Supports Orphans
    There are many foreign aid organizations and projects aiding and supporting African orphans, including USAID. USAID’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program focuses on improving the health and well-being of African children, including orphans. This program focuses on reducing educational disparities, providing physiological care and support, helping fund families’ essential needs and ensuring legal support and protection.
  10. The Number of Orphans Is Decreasing
    Since 2001, with the help of foreign aid, the number of orphans in Africa, along with the rest of the world, has decreased and is continuing to decrease. This decline, although small, has been very consistent throughout the years, at approximately 0.7 percent per year.

The plight of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa is the culmination of a number of factors that require a multi-faceted and cooperative strategy to curb. As things begin to get better by some measures, it remains critical to continue the push for foreign aid at the scale of national policy.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr