Every morning at Love Uganda Foundation (LUF), fifteen-year old Morgan is greeted by caretakers he calls “Papa” and “Mummy.” Then he gets ready for the day, eating breakfast prepared by his elder sisters at the orphanage, dressing in his school uniform and heading to school. During the holidays, he does chores and plays with his friends - drawing, reading and writing. When Morgan has time, he practices songs and games that the orphans sing and play for visitors at LUF. At night, after watching a movie on Papa’s laptop, Morgan heads to bed.
This is a typical day for an orphan at LUF. LUF provides support to 219 orphans and other vulnerable children in regions of Uganda through their orphanage home and external programs. Their programs help sponsor and provide support to vulnerable children through resources including education, food and clothes. The organization is focused on the overall health and well-being of their orphans: physical, mental, financial, and spiritual; they provide health care and sanitation programs, peer to peer mental health, and business mentoring and vocational training.
LUF was founded by the late Emmanuel McMillan Kitumba because he was inspired to help sponsor orphans while he was in college. In 2008, Kitumba “do to others what has been done unto you,” inspired by the words of his mentor Andrew McMillan. Kitumba established LUF in 2012 as a community-based organization, before creating a larger national center in 2014. Kitumba’s organization quickly grew from ten orphans to thirty orphans due to the high demand for support of vulnerable youth around the country.
“To help the vulnerable Ugandan children and their communities, we carry out interdependency methods, that enable them work [sic] for themselves while being sponsored in their work, for example small scale businesses like farming, weaving and others,” Team Leader Robert Paul Kyeyune said in a written interview with Paper Bridges. “Social work teams bridge the gap between the vulnerable and their necessities, they talk about their mental health through group sessions where they talk about problems they have and how they could solve them.”
LUF’s programs work to change lives and empower the next generation of orphans and other vulnerable communities in Uganda to be independent even after leaving the organization. In addition to supporting the children themselves, LUF works to empower the family members and guardians that still remain an active part of the children’s lives.
“Most of the Orphans we have both in the Orphanage and our external program have lost their fathers and they have other siblings living with poor and vulnerable widows, [and] since we cannot look after every Orphan in a vulnerable family, we introduced up [sic] a program called Women Empowerment,” Kyeyune said. “We provide vocational trainings, business mentoring and capacity building to these widows and Elderly people under this program/work, so that they can sustain themselves and the children that we are unable to support.”
On April 22, 2016, Kitumba tragically died in a building collapse that contained LUF offices. Along with its founder, LUF lost its legal papers, and unknown people claimed the home that Kitumba had created. The orphans were left with no home; some children were taken back to their relatives while others were taken by other orphanages.
In July 2016, Kitumba’s older brother Kyeyune reestablished LUF with the help of his other brother Kyoyita Israel. After retrieving the legal documents that they had lost, the brothers began door-to-door charity outreaches. Kyeyune was determined to revive LUF in honor of his late brother and to support communities in need. “I am motivated to work for LUF because I love to develop and change someone’s life from scratch to success and I also love to make my late young brother’s vision successful,” Kyeyune said.
In the future, LUF plans to build a separate and bigger orphanage to accommodate more youth. The orphanage aims to raise funds through activities such as marathons and carwashes in addition to finding donors who could provide grants. Individuals in their communities can make a difference to orphans in Uganda through fundraising for or donating materials to LUF.
“It is important to help orphans because it reduces child deaths, human trafficking, child labor, child molestation and other problems that they may go through after the death of parent/s,” Kyeyune said. “It is also important to help Orphans because it helps them have access to essential needs like good food, better education, good clothes, good shelter, good medical care that they cannot have after the death of their parent/s.”
Before Morgan came to LUF at nine, he could rarely go to school because his biological mother did not have money to facilitate his and his siblings’ education after their father’s death. Morgan and his older sister fetched water for people to make money, but their family still did not have enough money to eat or have clean clothes.
When Morgan came to LUF, it changed his life. “The new mummy I found was so loving and caring, she could take good care of us like babies,” he said. “We were taken to school; this was my every time dream, to go to school putting on full school uniform, shoes and stockings, well packed container and a bottle of juice. Love Uganda Foundation made my every day dream come true, I attended my classes without any stress of looking for school fees or food, I started my comfort zone studies and next year I am joining high school.”
However, although LUF tries to have enough educational resources for all of its children, school supplies like books, pens, pencils and school bags are limited to some of the children, Morgan said. They further explained that LUF is renting the place where the orphans currently sleep, so the organization is looking for a bigger space to accommodate for all of the children.
“I would like more people to understand that [in] Uganda many orphanages and many orphans need help more especially in education and feeding. If people could help them out in these two problems they will have changed the world,” Morgan said.
The name “Morgan” is a pseudonym used for privacy purposes.