Rukungiri: The family home
When we first rescued 18 children from an abusive care home in 2007, we relocated them to a new home in Rukungiri, almost 400km from Kampala in south-west Uganda. Since then, other children have been taken into this family home to protect them from abuse. We continue to adopt children when we see a situation of need and are able to offer safe refuge.
Biojemmss still believes that the best place for a child wherever possible is with their family and rooted in the community. The organisation therefore endeavours to return children home when it is safe to do so. An example of our work in this area is the support we provide to street children to trace their families and rehabilitate them back with a family member.
Biojemmss is committed to providing a high standard of care until our children and young people reach adulthood and independence. We understand that a child’s well-being is dependent on living in a permanent, loving and secure environment. The Rukungiri home is a safe and peaceful location, and our staff and volunteers have a heart for children, working hard to help them reach their full potential.
The children take it in turns to take responsibility for the running of the home, to make family decisions about the household timetable, to raise shopping needs in our evening forum meetings and to participate in discussions about their care. This child-centred and participatory approach supports their growth and development, as well as building confidence, restoring their sense of personal boundaries and control, and teaching them how to handle responsibility.
Biojemmss provides full-time education so that every child is equipped for adulthood and financial independence. The children’s educational needs, such as school fees, uniform, textbooks and scholastic materials, are covered by the organisation. They study at some of the best educational institutions in the region, including Modern Rukungiri Primary School, Masaka Secondary School, Datamine Institute, St Charles Lwanga Vocational School and Ndejje University.
As many of our young people have previously had poor educational experiences, Biojemmss supports them through tutoring and devoting extra time to revision during the holidays. The home also has its own library.
At home, they children and young people receive daily input, love, support and guidance from the staff team, and the girls have a designated female worker to specifically support and guide them. The children are also given the opportunity to meet individually with one of our social workers to discuss their experiences, concerns and how best to deal with life’s challenges.
Our young people organise their own meetings to share how they have overcome certain situations. They support each other in making responsible and positive decisions. Peer counselling has been pivotal in supporting the children in feeling able to safely voice past traumas.
Music, dance, film and drama
As well as providing a means of personal expression and achievement, our music, dance, film and drama activities could lead to a future source of livelihood. We allow our young people to explore and excel in these activities, with support from children’s ministries in the local church. The children particularly enjoy cultural and modern dance, dancing competitions and dramatic plays.
Our young people have performed in various community celebrations and festivals, and a few have gone on to build careers in these areas, with one releasing his own album and another setting up a film production business. One of our members was also recognised for his contribution to film in the Rukungiri district. Our young people have derived an increased sense of well-being, enjoyment and self-esteem from these activities.
There are many opportunities in the home and in the local community to engage in sport activities. There is a football pitch nearby and many of our young people play for local teams. There is also badminton and football equipment at the Biojemmss home, which they use regularly. The aim is to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, and to involve our young people in community life.
Biojemmss has adopted children as young as four and as old as seventeen. Home activities are varied to accommodate different play and learning needs. The children enjoy activities such as colouring, playdough, art and crafts, and painting, as well as outdoor activities.
All of the children have a personal relationship with Jesus and we believe it is extremely important to support them in their faith and spiritual development. One of the ways we do this is through daily Bible studies and worship time. They explore the Bible as a family, with the opportunity to ask questions, pray together and lead the sessions themselves. This is supplemented by access to Christian media for all ages, and support to attend church youth conferences and weekends away.