This week, the Ugandan community is awash with news of the demise of Becky Nampijja, a recent graduate and a beneficiary of the Watoto Child Care Ministries.
Becky was raised up as one of the thousands of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children that have characterised the Ugandan social scene in part due to the scourge of HIV and AIDS reaping their parents or the burden of social responsibility being too much for unemployed parents.
In a unique model of a foster community, off Mityana Road, Watoto Child Care Ministries places 8 such children in a home with a mother and there, their lives being to take shape as they should have been had they stayed in a proper home. They get brand new brothers and sisters, and learn to accept new mothers with whom they share life. They go to school, have a medicare facility and a community centre where they meet on the weekends for events and church services.
Becky, would have, earlier on, travelled on the famous Watoto Children’s Choir where she would have sang and danced to share the gospel, and tell of the story of her rescue and transformation; and help to raise funds so that more children like her can be rescued. In the course of her life, true to the african adage, Becky would have been raised by a Village!
That village would include sponsors, from 6 countries where Watoto Choir has been, that village would include me and you, who for a paltry UGX 70,000 every month, provide the resources that Watoto Child Care Ministries needs to put children like Becky through an education all the way to the University.
In January 2015, a little orphaned and abandoned gal had grown and transformed into a beautiful young leader, armed with an education and the best possible upbringing – Becky graduated with an Economics degree. She bit so many odds to get to this point, and she already had a job, a rare and priceless acquisition in a country with nearly 83% graduate unemployment.
There are 4000 such children in the Watoto Children’s Homes and thousands more in the other foster homes scattered allover the country. In those homes, there are children who look up to their big sisters (read: Becky) and mothers who pride in sons and daughters who have lived to beat the curse of a fatherless generation.
To have to live with the death of Becky Nampijja in such a senseless spectacle is a heart wrenching matter – Becky is the very future of this country and before we have to reap the reward of years of hard work in rescuing and raising her to rebuild her nation, Becky is taken away from us.
My heart weeps, and the pain cannot be verbalised.
On the day of her death, Becky was one of the first of many fatalities for the month of March 2015, recorded at the Central Police Station in Kampala. This station reports 308 deaths due to Boda Boda accidents for the first 60 days of this year – that is 15 lives every single day.
If Alshabaab was killing 20 lives every month, there would be a supplementary budget for military acquisitions to the tune of many billions of shillings. Yet we sit idly by as Boda Bodas kill 15 people daily.
We had Operation Wembley when armed thugs began to kill and rob, at the height of it, no more than 30 people were killed in a month – but today we sit idly by as Boda Bodas kill 15 people daily.
Uganda, how many young people are we prepared to lose before Boda Bodas become a terror in our lives? How many excuses and reasons are we going to give before we consider this a serious threat to the very life of this community?
The strain on the country’s limited health budget is growing. According to a report by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and the department of orthopedics at Mulago, about 40% of trauma cases at the hospital are from boda-boda accidents (pdf). The treatment of injured passengers and pedestrians accounts for almost two-thirds of the hospital’s annual surgery budget.
For the life of Becky Nampijja and 308 other Boda Boda deaths in 2015 alone, I demand that we do something!
So i have watched the rest of it, and am now back. At about 14.00 and the next 20 seconds, its clear America will not get involved if their Security or Financial Stability is not at stake. So what? Can we fault them for that? Or is it because we hallucinate in the same subconscious naivety most of Africa had when Obama ascended the presidency. Even then, we grapple with reality and take it out on Americans?
I have been part of Watoto Child Care Ministries, and i was fortunate to be a part of a team that has toured Canada and US. Simple, the mission, tell them about our plight, and ask for help. When we (Watoto Church) didn’t know how to solve the crisis of a parent-less nation, Gary M Skinner, did the same thing that this young man has done. Find a genius way to tell the story, and be humble enough to ask for help. To this day, some of the first children rescued by Watoto are now employed, most are at University, and they are giving back. Back to the cause that rescued them, so that cause can rescue others like them.
We didn’t fold our hands over half hearted efforts, and though Gary, originally from Canada was the brainchild, Ugandans, have now picked it up, and run with it. But the message is still outside there. And guess what, the help keeps coming.