It is a bright day at Kaihura trading centre, about 40 kms on the new Fort Portal-Kyenjojo road. I see a sign post written on ‘Bringing Hope to the Family’ on the right hand side of the road. As I branch off, shortly after a two-minute-drive, I am already at the children’s centre that is well-fenced with a tall wire mesh.
At the gate, the guard asks me who I want to see. ‘I want to see Kunihira,’ I respond. After registering, he gives me access to the premises. I find many children, boys and girls in the compound, happily playing. This is the baby’s home that has brought hope to many children in the western region. In the office, I find a policeman registering a child who they had earlier in the day rescued from a woman, they found seated in the middle of road, waiting for a car to knock them dead.
It is a beehive of activity as people are busy slashing, building, sweeping, older children are peeling Irish potatoes for supper, while the senior women are washing clothes, mopping and bathing children.
Moments later, I find Kunihira inside, playing with the youngest children. After exchanging pleasantries, she confesses, “I love children so much. I can spend the whole day playing with them.”
Faith Philo Kunihira is mothering hundreds of children who have been abandoned or abused in Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge and Kagadi districts.
Kunihira is the founder and the executive director of Bringing Hope to the Family, an non-governmental organisation based in Kyenjojo District in western Uganda, that offers education, child care centres, has supported health by building two health centre IIIs and connected hard -to -reach places by building bridges, among other services.
“In the last 19 years, I have educated 265 children who have all obtained degrees. 80 are now at universities,” Kunihira reveals.
Asked how she sustains this initiative, Kunihira says her tireless efforts and long hours of work keep the babies’ home going. She also noted that she receives support from different donors.
According to Kunihira, 1,225 vulnerable girls and boys have obtained vocational skills, while 136 others are undertaking vocational studies in different institutions.
“Some of the children I support are in schools like Mandela in Hoima, Kyebambe Girls Senior School in Fort Portal and several other schools. In primary schools, there are 1,650 and 62 (0 to 14 years) are in the babies’ home,” she adds.
Kunihira says more than 1,600 people living with HIV receive quality health services at Hope Again Medical Centre III and 265 of these are children.
The centre also provides free nutritional supplements. “In July, we are opening a new health centre III at Kanyegamire in Bufunjo Sub- county, Mwenge North in Kyenjojo District. We also focus on water and sanitation. We have constructed three boreholes and 62 shallow wells around Kyenjojo District,” Kunihira explains.
Kunihira says her initiative has supported 1,224 households with agricultural inputs, nutrition, mosquito nets, psychosocial support, handled child abuse cases and supported several villages to start up saving groups.
“During our community outreach programmes in 2016, I found that the people of Kanyegamire were cut off from the rest of the district, as the only makeshift bridge had been swept away by floods at Kahombo swamp. I was told that pregnant women would fall in the waters as they sought medical services to Kifuka on foot, about 20 Km away” she says.
“While building a medical facility was ideal, we later found out that constructing the bridge first would save lives. I started soliciting for funds (Shs320 million) and I am glad that the local people will have a new bridge in July this year.” She says she received a lot of support from Duke University in North Carolina, USA.
Born 49 years ago at Ntutu village in Nantungo Sub -county, Kunihira went to Kaihura Primary School and Madox Secondary School. She holds several certificates in HIV/Aids counselling and computer science and an Advanced diploma in Project Planning and Management. She holds a degree in Business Studies from the Institute of Computer Management in the UK. She holds a Master of Science Business Administration from Roehampton University in the UK. She was recently honoured with a Doctorate in Humanity from Lead Impact University in USA.
Kunihira worked at Shell Jinja as an accountant, Uganda Grain Milling Company as an audit assistant, director at the Source Café in Jinja and is founder of the Masterseed Primary School in Jinja.
Today, she is the founder and executive director of ‘Bringing Hope to the Family’, ‘Home Again’, and a medical facility -Hope Again Medical Centre III, ‘High Hope Primary School’, New Hope Vocational institute, Future Hope- a Pregnancy Crisis Centre and runs a Community Development Programme that focuses on infrastructural development in Kyenjojo District.
What others say
Adolf Baguma, 17
Student at Mandela SS in Hoima
Philo Kunihira supported me to go for surgery in Califonia after I was tortured at home in Rugombe in Kyenjojo District, in 2016. When I recovered, she offered me a study bursary. She is a blessing to our village.
Tom Mwebaze, 26,
Clinical Officer and the officer- in-charge of Hope Again Medical Centre III
I met this lady with a heart of gold after completing Senior Four. She paid my school fees through A- L evel and at Fort Portal School of Clinical Officers. She is a hard working woman, very caring, and a mother.
Kunihira is a hero sent from heaven to Kyenjojo. She has supported the vulnerable children and mothers in this region. She is selfless and generous. She always yearns to see people doing better and these are enviable and rare virtues.