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.