Foundation For Education And Development (FED), a community-based organization founded in 2002, is dedicated to supporting orphans and other vulnerable youth in Uganda and Africa at large. They currently have 120 orphans, ranging from eight to eighteen, under their care.
According to their website, the organization strives to improve the quality of life for orphans and other vulnerable youth. They seek to endow them with moral values to be respected and responsible in their communities. FED’s website emphasizes raising awareness of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS among the youth.
To further assist vulnerable youth, FED’s website states that the organization supports education by sponsoring school fees and additional scholastic materials. They intend to build their own primary, secondary and vocational schools, as currently only 40% of the orphans in FED graduate high school.
Although FED has goals to further support youth education, there have been challenges along the way. “COVID-19 has made us fail to raise funds since the lockdown was effected[sic] in Uganda. People who were supporting us lost jobs, and now we are in trouble funding people to fund our project. But we are following the standard operating procedures (OSPs) to this organization, and it has helped us to avoid COVID-19,” an employee at FED stated.
Despite the obstacles of COVID-19, FED aspires to care for vulnerable youth in their communities and find ways to fund their projects. Bogere Alphonce, the Director of FED, explains that he is motivated to work for the organization because of his own experiences and his community’s experiences.
“I was born in a home with many children and my Fathers income fell when he lost job [sic]. My uncle took over me and started caring, paying school fees and other basic needs. Seeing all that, I am motivated to help others in need,” Alphonce said. “Living for others is a rule of nature. We are born to help each other, no matter how difficult it is.”
According to Alphonce, there are a variety of reasons why children come to FED for support, including poverty, hunger and loneliness. With more than one million people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, the epidemic has particularly impacted the country and the organization.
“The families have lost elderly sons and elderly daughters due to AIDS, leaving orphans whose mothers also die later, and yet their grandmothers are already elderly and sickly. Our entire community has lost several elders, age mates and even juniors, leaving orphaned children without reasonable help… Such tragedies constantly inspire us into caring for the needy,” FED’s website states.
Growing up in orphanages without a family can have lifelong psychological consequences on orphans. In general, studies suggest that orphans may experience greater negative psychological impacts and higher levels of psychosocial distress compared to non-orphans. To provide emotional support, one of FED’s initiatives allows them to exchange letters and emails with other people in their age group from around the world via pen pals and emailing a friend. “This helps children to learn writing letters as well as knowing that there are children of their age group out there who know and think about them,” Alphonce said.
“Childhood lost: Assistance for children orphaned by AIDS in Uganda.” United Nations Children's Fund, 21 June 2007, www.unicef.org/aids/uganda_40064.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.
“Psychological Characteristics of Adolescents Orphans with Different Experience of Living in a Family.” International Journal Of Environmental & Science Education, 14 Oct. 2016, files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1120236.pdf. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.
Zhou, Grace. “Understanding the Psychosocial Well-being of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC): The Intersection of Research and Policy.” Duke University Libraries, May 2012, dukespace.lib.duke.edu/dspace/ bitstream/handle/10161/5386/Grace%20Zhou%20FINAL.pdf?sequence=1.Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.