According to the Ugandan National Household Survey, 11.3% of Uganda’s 17.1 million children are orphans. Close to 6,000 mothers die during or just after childbirth, and the AIDS epidemic has rendered close to 660,000 children orphans (UNAIDS, 2015).
In 2013, Children to Love began a partnership with Mercy Childcare Ministry (Mercy). At Mercy, an emphasis on family reunification is key. Oftentimes, families abandon children due to financial difficulties and other stressors. Mercy looks into each child’s case to determine if financial assistance or other supports can be utilized with families to help them care for their children. In cases of abuse, Mercy seeks out willing foster families and investigates the possibility for adoption. Since 2002, Mercy has facilitated the restoration of close to 300 children with their biological families, 30 adoptions and currently cares for close to 200 abandoned infants, children and orphans. There are currently eight houses in the Mercy Childcare Village, with a set of house parents caring for up to eight children in each house.
In addition to their direct work with orphaned and abandoned children, Mercy also runs the Family Empowerment Program, a program dedicated to empowering families and communities by empowering women. This program was started to help people get on their feet so that they can provide for their children while bettering their lives. Mercy believes that a woman's heart is for her family, so when you empower the woman, you're also empowering her children. The Family Empowerment Program offers several different opportunities including micro-loans, financial training and a vocational program. Learn more about the Family Empowerment Program here.
Mercy’s reach also extends to special needs children in Uganda. Many families lack the financial resources to care for these children, or simply do not understand how to care for them. As a result, many children with special needs are abandoned or die before the age of 5. Mercy works with families with special needs children to link them to educational resources, rehabilitation services, and medical care.
Mercy Childcare Ministry is overseen by Executive Director Wilfred Rugumba. In addition to his role as Executive Director, Wilfred sits on the District Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Committee which serves to advocate for children's well-being in the district of Wakiso. Wilfred is also President of the Board of Talitha Khoum, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates girls who were trafficked and/or under sexual exploitation. He and his wife Vena have two sons, Graham and Joshua, and two daughters, Zoe and Rille.
Thanks to Mercy Childcare, Eddie has been able to grow up with a family. See his story here.