Jeremiah House provides housing and the love of family for homeless young men while they continue their education. The project is named after the verse Jeremiah 29:11, telling of God’s promise of a hope and a future for all of us, the staff and volunteers at the home are on a mission to show the youth the love of God and to make it clear to them that they are not a mistake, that they were created for a purpose, and that God has a plan for each of them.
Jinja Connection provides education and shelter for full-time and part-time street kids. Our drop-in centre offers a safe space for kids to come and get something to eat and build relationships. Staff and volunteers also target street kids who have little or no education and provide schooling for them along with a co-op program for skills training. Whenever possible, street kids are reunited with their families through a process of reconciliation.
Detailed Implementation Plan
In the last six months, we have continued to encourage the children at Jinja Connection to find a love for learning through our interactive classes. We are excited to share that many of our students have now chosen to leave the street and focus on pursuing their education.
Two students who were resettled into homes wrote their Primary Leaving Exams. Both of these individuals successfully passed their exams with top grades and have now moved on to their secondary school education. 15 children who were once living on the streets of Jinja have now been successfully resettled back into their homes with family and we are thrilled to hear that many of them are already enrolled in school! 12 young men who once relied on Jinja Connection have graduated with a certificate from a local vocational school in the region, 3 in hairdressing and 9 in bricklaying. We have also been able to advocate for 20 children to be released from police custody. These children were taken by police when they were “idle” on the streets.
We have observed improvements in the overall well-being of the children at Jinja Connection. We believe that these improvements are likely linked to the counselling services we have added, as well as additional opportunities for the children to bathe.
We have identified approximately 37 new children in the Jinja region who are living on the streets. Over the course of the next 6 months, we plan to provide support to these children.
In the next 6 months significant focus will be placed on doing more awareness work within the town of Jinja, including distributing flyers and posting posters to educate our neighbours on children who live on the streets. We have experienced an influx of tourists in Jinja and unfortunately have observed the children being impacted in a negative way. We hope that through raising awareness, we can create positive change.
We hope to hire a new social worker. This individual will play a very critical role in Jinja Connection, as they will help primarily with resettling the street children back into their family homes.
We are very excited to share that we are beginning the process of adapting two Canadian Big Brothers, Big Sisters programs: Go Girls! (for girls) and Game On! (for boys). These programs are designed for youth during their formative years, and focus on helping them reach their full potential in life. We are also hoping that once the programs have been adapted we will be able to train group mentors/instructors who can also implement the programs.
We are excited to share that all of the youth in our care have acquired care orders. These orders are critical as they are legal documents enabling us to keep the children in our home. As a program, we are focused on family or guardian reconciliation and reintegration. One of our youth successfully reconnected with his grandfather this autumn. We are so happy that they were able to establish a good relationship before the grandfather’s passing.
Two youth from our home have successfully completed and passed their primary seven exams with incredible grades! We are so proud of their hard work and dedication to their studies.
In December, several youth from the house learned new skills and assisted George and Rhonda to help fix some of the chairs in our home that were in need of repairs. Rhonda also volunteered her time during the school vacation and taught one of our youth how to knit, and Ronnie conducted some basic computer lessons with two primary youth and a staff member, on our recently acquired office computer!
We hosted several soccer tournaments with other homes and organizations in the region, including Sera’s Home and Gi Asco. These tournaments were so successful that we have also introduced the sport of volleyball to the mix! Uganda’s Proline Football Club from Kampala visited our house to play soccer and share their inspiring stories with our youth. The team promised to promote any youth who showed great potential in soccer. One of our own youth was even invited to train with their youth team on three occasions.
Stories of Transformation
Our friend Kevin is 13 years old from Masese in Jinja. Four years ago Kevin left his home in Moroto (13 hours from Jinja) after the death of both of his parents. His father was a cattle keeper who was attacked by people trying to steal his cattle and he was killed. After hearing of the new of his father’s death, Kevin’s mother committed suicide. This left Kevin at age 9 alone at home when his aunt came to get him and brought him to Jinja (Masese). Although his aunt wished to be able to take him to school, she was unable to find the money for school fees. There came a time when she could also no longer provide food for Kevin so he felt he had no choice but to turn to the street. He started looking for scrap metal, charcoal and bottles to earn money for food.
In March 2016 during one of Jinja Connection’s street walks, we found Kevin on the street. He was counselled and invited to come to Jinja Connection. Kevin responded very positively to the program, where his desires for and education were very apparent. In October of 2016 Kevin was enrolled in school. He is determined to succeed in his class and says he will never return to the streets. We are excited to help Kevin to fulfill his dream to receive an education!
“If I can only get the chance my brother has of attending school, I would take it with both hands and I will never waste it! I sometimes feel sad that my brother always escapes from school and goes back to street. Sam why don’t you stop?” Those are some of the very first words that came out of the mouth of David, a 9 year old boy I was counselling along with his brother Sam.
The counselling session was the very first one I had with the two brothers after they had lost their only source of hope – their mother. David is 5 years younger than his brother but when you interact with him, he sounds much older than his age. He had always been the one at his mother’s bedside, taking care of her as she was dying of AIDS.
David had never attended school, but when the chance prevented itself, David happily accepted and has never looked back! He is one of the most-loved and cheekiest boys we have at the house. His discipline and his care for others is evident.
David still struggles with class work (especially the English language and literacy work) but he has always showed commitment and regularly seeks out older boys to help him with his homework. When others have teased him during tutoring sessions, he has always smiled and said, “You can laugh but you also didn’t know a thing when you had just joined!”
He has fully regained hope and even though this year he was asked by the school administration to repeat primary one, it hasn’t broken his spirit.
In October, H. L. Photography hosted an incredibly successful photoshoot in support of Jinja Connection! All the money raised went directly to the work of Jinja Connection. “Thank you” to everyone involved for your support!
On May 7th, 2017, we will be hosting the 6th annual African Tea & Auction. This incredible fundraiser will take place in Bowmanville, Ontario and will go directly to helping children get off the streets and back into school where they belong.
We are looking forward to welcoming the Greene Family who will arriving in January and will be helping, sharing and learning with us at Jinja Connection! We are SO excited that they will be here for 6 months!
Throughout the last six months Jinja Connection has forged a very strong relationship and partnership with the local police, in particular their child and family unit. This new relationship has resulted in them leaning on Jinja Connection when they are working with local children living on the streets.
We hosted our first ever Christmas African Tea and Auction this past November in Kitchener, Ontario. Thanks to everyone who came out to support Jeremiah House, we truly appreciate your generosity!
|Total Income 2016||$122,128|
|Total Expenses 2016||$139,428|
|Overall 2016 Budget||$139,931|