A BETTER WORLD FOR KIDS
Pilot Project For Building Life-long Resilience For Vulnerable Children (Aged 6-12) And Elderly In Nakivale Settlement, Uganda
Focusing Initiatives International
Daniel Osako, Managing Director
Patricia Omidian, Program Advisor
Uganda remains the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa with over 1.29 million refugees and asylum seekers, 61% of which are children.
Many of these children have experienced severe traumatic events (including displacement, family separation, death of parents, abuse, neglect, physical violence, sexual and gender-based violence, and patterns of prolonged tension and violence in over-stressed families) that undermine their resilience and natural ability to cope positively with adverse situations.
Mental health problems affect about one in ten children and young people in Uganda. An assessment conducted in two refugee hosting districts indicated that 68% of refugee children who were suffering from psychosocial distress had not received the mental health care or social interventions that they needed. The report further indicated that the majority of the relationships in which refugee children were involved had violent components. The lack of structured recreational activities and limited educational and social opportunities for children and adolescents in the settlements has left them isolated from their peers, lacking healthy stimulation, and at risk of drug and alcohol abuse. The arrival of Covid-19 significantly impacted the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees causing symptoms of anxiety and depression to rise dramatically higher than in pre-pandemic Uganda.
Existing development and protection programs for refugees generally focus on older teens and emerging adults. The specific needs of both younger children and the elderly are generally ignored by these programs or assumed to be met by family-based activities..
In many cases, families have had to make the painful choice to abandon their grandparents in order to escape war or other violent situations with their children. Those elderly who have managed to survive abandonment have lost everything – not only their homes and families, but also their former status as wise elders entitled to respect and assured of their importance to their communities.
Even where abandonment is not an issue, the rapid pace of social change has widened the generation gap, eroded traditional support networks, and weakened community values, leaving older refugees unable to experience the same authority, care, and attention that they had in the past.
Traditional wisdom is lost when folklore and other essential aspects of community culture are no longer passed from one generation to the next. When elders, who are the main source of this rich heritage, die without passing it on, cultural stability declines in already stressed refugee communities, creating a poor environment for healthy childhood growth and development.
A Better World For Kids was inspired by Daniel Osaka’s personal life experience as a lost child. He proposed this project to fill the gap in services and increase the resilience and psychosocial wellbeing of both elderly refugees and vulnerable children by building cross-generational ties that can enhance both elderly and children’s mental stability and create a sense of normality and social contact that allows children to grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
To increase the resilience and psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable refugee children of 6 to 12 years and of under-served elderly in the Nakivale Settlement in Uganda.
This project seeks to: