Improving the lives of children living in the Ugandan slums

The centre provides a safe place with trusted adults for the children

The centre provides a safe place with trusted adults for the children

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This summer Sheena Campbell is heading to Uganda to visit Children on the Edge’s project in the Soweto slum. She’ll be writing about different aspects of the project as the visit approaches and how readers can help. This week, it is all about T-shirts.

Child sacrifice remains extensive throughout Uganda, with children disappearing frequently only to be found murdered or mutilated by witch doctors as part of ceremonial ritual.

The children have mapped out safe and dangerous places in the local area

The children have mapped out safe and dangerous places in the local area

The abhorrent practice was particularly prevalent in the area surrounding Soweto slum when Children on the Edge started work there three years ago.

In 2001 there were seven cases of sacrifice and eight in 2012 but the in the last 18 months there have been no reported incidents.

This is largely due to one of the most important components of the West Sussex-based charity’s project – the establishment of a community child protection committee (CCPC).

“At the height of the killing spate in July, 2012, ten responsible adults were identified within the community and were trained on all aspects of child protection,” said Esther Smitheram from the charity.

Ten responsible adults within the community were trained on all aspects of child protection

“Part of this process was to raise awareness on the issue of child sacrifice, tackling the beliefs, mindsets and behaviour that sustain the practice.

“These workshops were held together with local leaders and police.

“The CCPC then began raising awareness of child protection issues within the community, holding community-wide meetings and visiting door to door.

“They were equipped with a loudspeaker system so that when a child went missing the community could be alerted.

The message is clear in the team office

The message is clear in the team office

“This along with a bicycle so members could immediately report cases to the local police has proved to be a remarkable deterrent to the perpetrators.”

The scheme has been so successful it is being rolled out into neighbouring communities Wandago and Kimasa, where abductions are still commonplace.

New committees have been established and bought bicycles and loudspeakers but one thing these new teams still need is T-shirts.

“As they are a new organisation in the community, they need to be recognised as part of the child protection team to start to build awareness,” said Esther.

“We’d be so grateful if Observer readers could donate to Sheena’s Justgiving page to fund these.

“Each one just costs £3, and at this stage, they’d be a real help.”

To donate for the committee’s T-shirts visit www.justgiving.com/Sheena-Campbell2.

What is Children on the Edge?

Children on the Edge works with vulnerable children around the globe – those often forgotten about by society. In the Soweto slum the charity has launched a multi-stage project to keep youngsters safe and give them a chance at a better life. Its Child Friendly Space provides pre-primary education for children under five years old and educational and play activities for children aged six to 14.

Nutritious meals improve health and community child protection committees provide support on parenting, family planning and preventing abuse.

Vulnerable households are able to meet their own needs through comprehensive agricultural training. The centre allows 200 children to access child-centred activities each day. It gives 60 displaced youths vocational training.

The child protection committee raises awareness of abduction and allows the community to act quickly if perpetrators are spotted.

More information is available online at www.childrenontheedge.org.