Uganda is a country located in East Africa and has a population of approximately 46 million. It was ruled by the UK until 1962 when it gained independence. The word “independence” paints a rosier picture than is reflected in reality. Since 1962, the country has had to deal with many violent conflicts, as well as a long-held military dictatorship. The instability has made life extremely difficult and even dangerous for its population.
The biggest challenges for children in Uganda include poverty, health care, low education rates, and child marriage, to name a few.
Poverty is a huge problem as it leads to poor health and limited education, which makes it more difficult to escape this impoverished state. Because of poverty, large portions of the population are unable to afford the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Unfortunately, low rates of economic growth and the effects of civil disorder are major factors in causing poverty.
Inefficient health care and lack of access to health care result in higher mortality rates and increased incidences of disease. The impoverished have reduced access to health care because health centers are generally located closer to larger and more affluent populations. Almost 80% of the population lives in rural areas. The poor do not have access to transportation to get them to health centers.
Educational challenges in Uganda are enormous. This is due in part to high levels of teacher and student absenteeism. By missing blocks of education and being unable to connect the dots from one discipline to another, a child misses out on the step-by-step progression in the chain of acquiring knowledge.
Inadequate availability of learning materials is another roadblock to a child’s learning process. Especially in impoverished areas where families have severely limited resources to obtain books, pencils, paper, etc.
Large class sizes are a problem, as well. If children are unable to get individual attention, the learning process becomes uneven, ensuring that slower-learning children fall behind.
Child marriage is a sad, frequent, and painful reality for a large proportion of girls in Uganda. Girls trapped in child marriages are less likely to complete their education and more likely to face gender-based violence. They are more likely to be out of school and not earn money to contribute to the community.
Unemployment is another problem facing the country of Uganda, and it is a major problem. The unemployment rate of the youth population (ages 15 to 30) is estimated to be 64%. People who are unable to find work are not supporting themselves or contributing to the community.
What Can We Do to Help?
Fortunately, in the face of all these obstacles, there is an organization dedicated to caring for neglected children in Uganda: Sozo Children. Founded in 2010, Sozo is a mission-based ministry focused on lifting children out of poverty and making them stronger in every way so they can become passionate leaders for Christ who will transform their communities for the next generation.