Images By The Mbuyu Foundation
Images By The Mbuyu Foundation
It was started by my husband, Dr Rob Makanda & myself (Leah Makanda), after we both had individual experiences in Katanga and had developed a heart for the people there.
Katanga is considered as an Urban slum and is situated on a flood plain right between Makerere University and Mulago regional referral hospital.
As of the last censors, some years ago now, Katanga was home to more than 20,000 people who live in mud, wood or brick homes (or a room as you’d really call it)
Water channels weave throughout Katanga, often alongside open sewage, often stagnant through dry seasons, until heavy rains come and flooding occurs. Those who live on the bottom side of Katanga deal with regular flooding during the wet seasons.
While there is a lot of challenges and crime for the people who live there – there is also a great sense of community.
It is because of these challenges, and also the strong sense of community, that before we started any of our programs we decided to do a needs assessment.
So while The Mbuyu Foundation was officially registered in 2016, we did not begin any programs until 2018 in Katanga after we spent time sitting and interviewing hundreds of families throughout Katanga – to hear what they wanted and what they felt was needed for their community.
Our programs flow from what they wanted.
Five years down the track we have many programs and have learnt a great deal, as we endeavor to empower people with the skills needed to break the cycle of poverty and to change the destinies of their family.
At Mbuyu we aim to impact the whole family, so every program stems from our original Read for Life program, which is a Literacy and Library program for school age children. The majority of the children we work with in Katanga go to poorly resourced and overcrowded schools, so many fall through the gaps when it comes to literacy. Our goal is to create a culture of young people that love to read and are able to read well and gain knowledge through reading that will take them further in life. We have around 200 children regularly attending our Read for Life program.
From that, all our other major projects flow – so for someone to attend one of our other programs, they should have a family member regularly attending Read for Life. This enables us to help the whole family and to continue to motivate the whole family to encourage the child to continue with their education.
Adult Literacy runs throughout the week, with beginners, intermediate and advanced class. We have adults who never even did any schooling and need to be shown how to hold a pencil, all the way up to adults who did some high school classes but had to stop due to a lack of finances.
It’s so incredibly exciting to see people gaining reading and writing skills, and also the confidence to stand in front of others and express themselves. Being able to read and write dramatically improves their ability to improve their businesses and the financial wellbeing of their families. But for us, one of the best things is when you hear a parent say, they can now read their child’s report card, or sit and help their child with their homework.
Five nights a week our Study club is available for primary up to university students. With people living in tiny rooms that accommodate multiple family members, finding a quiet space with good lighting to study can be difficult. Young people can come and study in a space with electricity, text books, teachers on hand and peace and quiet.
Our Sports for Life program runs to try and show young boys that education and hard work is important and that crime does not pay.
Through football and mentoring, our young boys are being given the opportunity to dream of a different life. Away from gangs and crime and one where they can work to change their destinies.
Our skills for life program is open to our sports boys, with many having graduated the program, and now having completely changed their lives.
Alongside all of our major programs, we offer many other programs and training from crèche services, child sponsorship, to family counseling, discipleship, medical and surgical camps, to human trafficking awareness programs and community clean ups.
We have a café and bakery now and medical clinic situated at Mulago Business Center – all aimed at being a training ground for those we work with and to be able to care for all those who live in the surrounded area.
We aim to not just give handouts but to give a hand up. To provide a space where people can grow and learn, and not just to learn a skill. A space where they learn to dream of a better life for themselves and for their children; where people find a place to belong, where they aren’t seen for what they lack, but are seen for what they can bring to the table.
Breaking the cycle of poverty is not easy, but everyone can be a part of the solution. And it starts small, with giving someone hope and helping them to see a different reality for themselves.
Every time someone supports us (whether that’s through one of our businesses or through becoming a monthly partner or a child sponsor) they are helping us to create that space. A space where doubts and negative voices are silenced and where people can begin to dream, grow and flourish.
This is just the beginning for The Mbuyu Foundation – but as lives are being changed – we are excited for what the future holds.