Creating a childhood and opportunity for orphans in rural Uganda
The Blue House
Hope Multipurpose Inc. provides food, shelter, and immunizations to children in Uganda who have been orphaned by AIDS, and supports and encourages their basic education and life skills training. Out of extreme necessity, rudimentary operations began in July, 2004. Following is the tale of a few of those orphan children of Uganda, and it is a true story.It was written down to create awareness of a far away community living a reality most Americans can barely imagine, and to explain the crushing and very practical need served by Hope Multipurpose Inc.
Some residents of the Blue House
Once upon a time, in Kazo Parish of the Mbarara District in Uganda, Africa, there were 12 children who had no home. They were orphans, their parents having died in the AIDS pandemic that had infected so many of the citizens of their land. At this time, there was no cure for AIDS, and there was no medicine in Uganda that would help those who were sick. When they could, the children would stay with relatives, but almost everyone in Kazo was very poor. Their aunts and uncles and grandparents (if they were living) wanted to care for the children, but life was very difficult and the relatives could seldom help. These 12 children had very little food to eat, and what they could find was often spoiled. They could not often wash themselves and had few clothes, so the children were dirty and their clothes were soiled. They went to school when they could, but they were hungry and it was hard to study well. And when the children were sick, there was no medicine to make them better.
However, everyone knew that it was very important for the children to go to school. They needed to learn how to take care of themselves. They hoped to learn to count and do figuring, to write the alphabet and make words, and to read books and learn about their world and all its wonderful people and places and ideas. The children were eager to learn the many technical and life skills they would need as they grew into adulthood -- how to grow food and build shelter, how to have healthy babies and provide for their families. Some of the children wanted to learn even more -- they wanted to become nurses or teachers, to fly airplanes and write stories and work with computers. One child even had the idea of becoming a research scientist and finding a way to end AIDS!
The Blue House girls and their housemother learning to grow food
At this point in most stories, the childrenís fairy godmother would enter the picture and, waving her magic wand, make it all better. Thatís not how this story goes because, you see, this is a true story about real children who are living in Uganda at this very moment. But there was a lady from Uganda who, at that time, lived in the United States, and she wanted to help the children.
Beatrice Garubanda and her family lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, a place far, far away from the children of Kazo. For the last 17 years, Beatrice had returned to Kazo several times to visit her mother and brothers and sisters and their children. Two of those trips were to attend the funerals and to assist the families of her brothers and their wives who had died of AIDS.
Although Beatrice was very sad to lose her brothers, her heart broke into a thousand pieces when she saw the children. Some were her nieces and nephews, but there were others -- so many others. For a time, aunts and uncles looked after them, but often, they, too, became sick. Grandmothers helped as much as they could, but they were old and tired. And, of course, everyone was very poor. Thus the children, some as young as six or seven, had to take care of themselves, and it was very hard.
When Beatrice returned to St. Paul, she told her friends about the children. Being a teacher herself, Beatrice knew the children needed help if they were to attend elementary school. She wanted to build a wonderful place for the children to live and play, to get meals and health care, and learn to raise vegetables and sew their clothes. She even found some land in Kazo for the building. By now, Beatrice knew the place would have to be very big. There were so many children, as many as 100, she thought.
Beatrice knew it would take a lot of money to build such a place, and it would take many years. She and her friends formed a Board of Directors and they worked to become a non-profit corporation so they could raise money to help the children. They called the organization Hope Multipurpose Incorporated, and everyone talked about what should be done. It took a lot of time, and everyone was so busy. Then, in the summer of 2004, Beatrice was again called back to Uganda. A third brother had died of AIDS.
This visit was the hardest one of all. There were even more children without a home and food. This time she counted over 200! Some of the children, particularly 12 orphans, were suffering terribly. How would they survive?
Beatrice talked with people in Kazo and formed a plan. She knew that, even though it was not at all ready, Hope Multipurpose Inc. must begin to operate immediately. She visited area officials, the teachers at the school, and a doctor. Everyone welcomed HMI and offered their encouragement to Beatrice. She and friends and relatives in the town scraped together a bit of money and found some construction materials.
The Blue House
In two months, they fixed up an old shop on the property, giving it a corrugated metal roof and even some windows. They bought some food, and bunk beds, and kerosene lanterns. A housemother was found to live with the children and to care for them.
The 12 orphans in crisis were moved into the building. At least, thought Beatrice, these few have a place to sleep each night and will be fed. They could bring food and water to school each day (as they must), and there is an adult to turn to if there is an emergency.
Hope Multipurpose in Uganda
Soon it was time that Beatrice returned to her family in the United States. Her sister and brother-in-law agreed to look after the needs of the children, the housemother and the property by serving as caretakers. However, she knew that the small amount of money available to meet the needs of the children would soon be gone. And she knew she must find a way to continue to help them. Beatrice and her friends started making plans. Her church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal, offered to host a dinner for charity and to include Hope Multipurpose Inc. as a benefactor. Beatrice would sell some Ugandan craftwork at the event to make a bit more money. She and her Board talked about a fashion show featuring colorful African styles and fabrics. She wanted to visit with and write to organizations that might provide financial assistance through grants and other gifts. Although Beatrice didn’t know if her plan would work, she knew she must try it. Perhaps, upon learning of the need in Kazo, there would be others willing to help those orphaned children in Uganda. Perhaps there would be more ideas, more ways to help, than Beatrice could imagine…
Sadly, Beatrice died suddenly in 2005. She was only 49 years old, and had just established Hope Multipurpose, Inc. (HMI) as a nonprofit in Minnesota and as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Uganda, with boards of directors in each country. The boards, friends and families in both countries have continued her work, supported by churches, individuals, and other Ugandan-Americans.
The rest of the story is yet to be told. How the story continues, of course, depends on you.New people will learn of Hope Multipurpose when you tell them about it. You will find undiscovered resources and create new ways to help the organization fulfill its mission.