Many of these children are old before their time, taking on adult responsibilities like bringing in an income for their families to survive. But like children everywhere they still have ambitions for their future.
The Alliance has been supporting community organisations and national partners through the CORE initiative in Uganda to help these children and many others affected by HIV, so they can realise their ambitions and look forward to a better future.
In Luwero, 12 year old Kabwama, who lost his father to AIDS and is cared for by his grandmother, talks about his life. “I like school,” he says grinning broadly. “Science and English are my favourite subjects.”
“I live in my house with five people – me, my sisters and my grandmother. I live by taking care of the chickens. The best thing about the chickens is I can get some money. With that I will either buy more chickens or maybe a cow in the future. Sometimes I will buy sweets!” he laughs.
“I want to be a business man and make my business countrywide. I’m not sure what the name will be but I’m already thinking of it. I will sell cars all across Uganda and make lots of money. I will look after my one wife and my three children,” he explains.
Peter Lugudde is 15 years old and from Bugolobe village. He’s responsible for his family and cares for his siblings who are 12 and 14. Every month he needs to raise 7000 Ugandan shillings, about £3.70, which he does by getting water for people.
“Our father died in 1998 and my mother abandoned us in 2001. She went to the islands to look for work and did not come back. I want to have a big farm with pigs so I can get money to study. I’d like to be a teacher one day.
“I wake at 5am, read until 6am and then go to school. We don’t have breakfast in the morning but we can have porridge at school. I’m at school from 7am to 6pm,” explains Peter. “This is because I’m studying for my exams. I do this six days a week. On the other day I work.
“I really want some shoes, that way I can travel further and work for more people,” he adds.
Edith Nakafu is the foster grandmother of Juliette who is seven years old. They live in Mukono.
“Juliette arrived when she was just three years old. I’m a member of the group ‘Help a Friend’. My sister learned about this very neglected child and told the group about her. I chose to care for Juliette as all my children had grown up.
“There are no problems caring for her. She helps at home with the cleaning and I love her very much. I want to see her educated and trained on a good course for life. I would like her to help care for me in the future.”
Juliette’s ambitions are clear already. “I would like to be a teacher,” she says proudly.
Aloysius Rural Mission School is also in Juliette’s village, Mukono, and they see to the needs of more children abandoned because of AIDS. Aloysius, the founder, explains, “These children need special care to heal the traumas in their minds. Some strive to survive on their own. Can you imagine an under five year old preparing their own food?”
“We wake them at 6am and decide which of the children will get water, who will make the porridge and who will clean the cattle. At the moment there are ten who live on site and go to primary school.
“We have 50 children in total and food is costly. If the Alliance didn’t provide food we would not be able to feed these children.
“We thank God for our friends like the Alliance,” he says.
These children need special care to heal the traumas in their minds