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  • Sylvia Agaba Project Director

ALL JOY "The Effects of Covid 19 on Children and Teenagers"

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Greetings from the staff and families at FOCUS Mulago Child Development Center. It is your generosity that gives hope to hundreds of children, families and community here. We pray God’s favor and blessing upon you and all your loved ones. Welcome to our bi-monthly news.


ALL JOY

The 26th of May 2020 saw 289 families shouting for joy after receiving food items. This was as a result of your giving towards COVID relief. The recipients included all child supported families and 100 community members who were finding it hard to place food on their table. Susanne one of community members shares her story.

“I thank FOCUS for thinking about us too. I am a single mother. I was abandoned by my husband two years ago. I wash clothes for people for a living but due to the lockdown business, ‘customers’ are home washing for themselves. My children collect scrap metal which they sell and fetch water for people for us to survive. A village Health Team Worker invited me to FOCUS and I did not know what to expect. I am so thankful. Our last bar of soap was given to us by a neighbor. I have received 5Kgs of maize flour, 3kgs of beans, 3 kgs of rice, I liter of cooking oil and a 1kg bar of soap!”

Please copy this link and watch a 6 minutes video of recipients expressing gratitude.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wkWLjilbyCmrmN86_LVrqoR9V-hFcNDB/view?usp=sharing


Before the outbreak of the pandemic, children were spending the biggest part of life in school. Nine out of twelve months of the year, they are in school. Mentoring roles were left to teachers and programs like FOCUS. Although the lockdown effects are more negative, there are a few positives. Children now have an opportunity to be taught livelihood skills from their parents. More than half of the children supported in the program have sought for employment opportunities. They are not only making money but transferring what they have been taught at the project to real life.


Ryan a 14-year-old has learnt carpentry during the lockdown. He is making grocery boxes. When asked his motivation, he replied;

“I got the idea from my friends. They encouraged me to work rather than stay redundant at home.” Ryan earns 5000 Uganda Shillings a day an equivalent of $1.4. He saves 3000 shillings and spends the rest. “The life skills taught at FOCUS have helped me know how to control myself and to behave well with others. For example, colleagues annoy me but instead of fighting or talking back, I move away.” Ryan explained.

Sarah too chose to support her mother. She has learnt major lessons in business and applied the skills she was taught too.

“I decided to help my mother in selling fruits and vegetables for it’s the family source of income. I have known how hard my mother toils for us to survive. I can’t just waste her money anymore on luxuries like clothes and shoes I don’t need. Rather, I now prefer to spend money on buying polyethene bags for packaging and saving for scholastic needs. Secondly, working with her has kept me busy. I don’t have time to spend gossiping with peers. I have also exercised self-control in a way that even if a customer calls me and they don’t buy from me, I don’t get annoyed nor quarrel. I simply say; ‘Thank you, maybe you will buy from me tomorrow or any other time.”


THE EFFECT OF COVID ON CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS

Although Uganda is slowly opening, schools and other institutions of learning are still locked. This has worsened challenges to the most vulnerable. There is a significant increase in protection risks for children, adolescents and youth which has left them susceptible to emotional, social and economic effects.

Many of the core support structure for children; which are schools and child-friendly programs/ spaces are now closed. Yet they play a vital role in keep children out of danger.

Many households are being pushed into extreme poverty and hunger. Parents who have lost their jobs are increasingly unable to feed their families. This is pushing more young people into child labor to help support their families. As a child development Program, we recognize that if this is not well managed, it will harm the children in the long run.

Walter is 14 and in Primary Four. During the lockdown, he decided to become a vendor to feed his family. A few weeks ago, he visited the Center to share the fact that he was no longer interested in school. When asked why Walter responded;

My dad used to provide for us but he’s no longer working. The money I earn is helping care for the home. I have realized that my young siblings even after the lockdown ends will need to be cared for and I want to pay their school fees.”


Secondly, the prolonged period of being confined in small homes is leading to an increasingly stressful environment. Research shows that 80% of parents have used violence to restrain children. Children are also witnessing more fights and abuse between parents. Two weeks ago, one of our teenagers ran away from home. It was after arguing with her mother on not showing proper responsibility for her young ones. Threateningly, the mother told her and her sister that if they can’t abide by her rules they can leave! This girl chose to leave home. The Project staff are still trying to track her whereabouts.


How we are helping children & youth to learn at home.

The Project prepared and gave age-appropriate learning materials to each beneficiary. When the students complete their work assignments, they submit their work for review and correction where needed. We continue to seek opportunities on how to engage children academically so that their love for school isn’t lost.

Each staff has been assigned families to visit. The target is to be present in the lives of all the children. We seek to have meaningful interactions that help us identify needs and be able to meet them. A case in point is Walter’s family that has been assisted to settle rent earlier.


Thank you for partnering with us.

Until Next Time;

Sylvia Agaba

Project Director

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