Q: When and why did you establish JFCU ?
I founded Joy for Children-Uganda (JFCU) in 2005 as a non-profit children’s rights centre and non-governmental organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice to children in Uganda. We currently have offices in Kampala, Central Uganda, and Kabarole District, Western Uganda. Our ten-person staff, along with local and international volunteers, creates and implements human-rights-based initiatives that improve children’s lives.
Q: What is your vision for JFCU ?
We envision all children in Uganda enjoying their rights, being protected and cared for, and having equal opportunities to realize their full potential. JFCU aims to be a well-connected, well-known children’s rights advocacy and action centre delivering high-impact services for children in Uganda.
Q: What is the age group of the children youâ€™re helping, and in which areas of Uganda are you most active ?
Children from infancy up to the age of 18 benefit from our services. We are currently serving children in Central and Western Uganda, in both urban and rural areas.
Q: What specific issues do you address ?
The plight of orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda inspired the formation of this organization. We are working to prevent all forms of violence against children, including abandonment, neglect, abuse and child labour, and to ensure that every child has equal access to high-quality education, particularly girls.
We are also working to end the sexual exploitation of girls and the damaging practice of child marriage. Other issues affecting children such as poverty; poor health due to HIV/AIDS, malaria and malnutrition; conflict in families; and the need for clean water, sanitation and food security are also at the forefront of our advocacy and activist work.
Q: What are your main projects and strategies?
We are supporting and implementing community-based initiatives to prevent violence against children and send more children to school. Our Good School Toolkit, which is being used in more than 450 schools in Uganda, provides teachers with educational and technical assistance to create an optimal, violence-free learning environment.
In conjunction with our grass-roots Girls Not Brides Empower Project, which aims to end child marriage in Uganda and keep girls in school, we are partnering with more than 15 local and international organizations in a massive public education effort to end child marriage and support girls’ empowerment and equal access to education.
We are also encouraging economic development in the slums of several Ugandan cities with child education sponsorship, health insurance, savings and credit programmes, and income-generating activities for women.
We are implementing all of these initiatives by training local government officials to uphold their responsibilities as set forth in the Children’s Act of Uganda, the Ugandan Constitution, and the United Nations Child Rights Convention. We produce community- and school-based events incorporating drama, poetry and music to further public education on issues affecting children.
We participate in press conferences, media interviews and interactive radio programmes that allow for feedback from the community. And we help to organize local women’s meetings and children’s support groups comprising community leaders, teachers, parents, health practitioners and JFCU staff members.
Q: How successful have you been ?
To give a few examples, we’ve sent 70 disadvantaged children to school and taught more than 200 women reading, writing, business and craft skills so they can better support their children. We are working with over 100 schools to end discrimination against girls and increase their access to education. We’re one of the leading organizations working to end child marriage in Uganda and throughout the world.
To date, we’ve rescued more than 3,000 children from violence, including those who have been abused and abandoned, and have found better homes for them. We have also worked with local volunteers to establish 57 child-support groups throughout Uganda, who work directly with vulnerable children through one-on-one counseling.
And JFCU was recently featured in the BBC documentary “On the Tea Trail with Simon Reeve,” which highlighted child labour practices at tea plantations.
Q: How are you funded ?
We are funded through the generosity of private foundations, individuals and non-governmental organizations throughout the world. Currently, we receive no government funding.
Q: What are some of your most pressing needs ?
We need funding for all our programmes, including our public education efforts and training for our staff and volunteers. We also need computers, video cameras and transportation vehicles to help us work more effectively and keep our offices open.
Q: What are your goals for the future ?
We hope to establish additional children’s rights centres in Uganda, which are self-sufficient and will enable us to expand and sustain our programmes focusing on the prevention of violence against children and children’s education. We are also planning to build schools for children to provide high-quality education in parts of Uganda where there are either no schools or children live too far away from existing schools. So we need to raise funds for these initiatives as well.
Q: Why is JFCUâ€™s work so important to the well-being of children in Uganda ?
Children’s lives are being transformed by our efforts to prevent all forms of violence against children and to ensure that every child has equal access to education. Every day, we are reaching children directly who face severe challenges. Every child deserves the right to food, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to be a child. We are committed to securing these rights and ending suffering for all children in Uganda.
Q: How can one support a child in Uganda ?
You can sponsor a child’s education and keep in touch with that child throughout the year, building a personal relationship. You can make a donation to JFCU by cheque or bank draft. We also accept online donations and in-kind donations such as books, children’s toys, videos, computers, clothing and other gifts.
You can also support children directly by volunteering in our programmes, becoming an intern with JFCU, or applying for a job with us.
Clock tower Kampala, Uganda
Tel: + 256 703 65 32