On a bright Saturday morning in Fort Portal City, about 50 metres away from the city centre, I can hear the voices of children crying endlessly. My curiosity leads me to the gate to find out what is going on.
On Kyebambe Road near the entrance of Karuziika palace in Tooro Kingdom, is a gate written on Toro Babies’ Home.Inside the gate, I see many children playing happily in the compound. But the security guard needs to know why I am at their premises.
This is one of the orphanage homes in western Uganda that looks after abandoned children below the age of three.
After clearing at the entrance, the security guard leads me to an office, where I find Rose Kakwera, who I later gather has been taking care of children in the orphanage for 20 years.
Toro Babies’ Home was founded in 1970 by Rev Jonathan Rwakaira, the Bishop of Ruwenzori diocese and and Rev Serapio Magambo , the Bishop of Fort Portal Catholic Diocese. It currently has 51 children under care. The children were abandoned by their parents.
“On June 1, 2000, I approached administrators of the baby’s home and asked them to allow me to take care of the children free of charge. After several interviews and making consultations, I was given a job at the orphanage. I left my family members and decided to start looking after children,” she recounts.
Kakwera says she has nurtured hundreds of children from neighbouring districts of Fort Portal such as Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Ntoroko and Bunyangabu.
Kakwera wakes every day to wash clothes for children, bathes children, feeds them and cleans the house. Because of her dedication and love for children, in 2002, she was given a house within the orphanage.
Kakwera, a mother of four, says when her children grew up, she became lonely. The house became empty, I needed company. When I got a job at the orphanage, God had answered my prayers of bring an end to loneliness” Kakwera says.
Like any mother at home, she looks after all the children in her home with one heart; she feeds them with milk, food, dresses them, bathes them and carries out other responsibilities.
All the items she uses to take care of these children are supplied by the administration and her responsibility is ensure that all children under her care are well looked after.
“Sometimes I do not sleep at night because they are always crying. When a child is sick, I take him or her to the hospital and tend to them until they recover. The administrators pay medical bills. I am happy that I am playing a mother role in the lives of these children,” Kakwera says
Kakwera currently has 10 children under her care. Many of the children under her care are below the age of three. She says the administration has rolled out a programme where children above three years can be adopted by either their relatives or members of the community.
In 2017, Kakwera, the longest serving worker at the orphanage was recognised for her exceptional work.
Kakwera says she derives her joy from knowing that children under her care are well taken care of. Her plan is to continue serving in the orphanage.
Kakwera urges parents to fulfil their God-given roles of nurturing and taking care of their children as opposed to abandoning them. “If you cannot afford to take care of a child, you are not obliged to have one. Why would you carry a pregnancy to full term and throw the child in garbage? Kakwera wonders. Last month, when Tooro babies home was celebrating 50 years, the two Bishops (Reuben Kisembo of Ruwenzori diocese and Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal catholic diocese commended her as a dedicated and responsible woman, who has nurtured many children during her stay at Tooro Babies Home.
The Toro Babies Home matron Betty Kemigisa says Kakwera is a very hardworking woman. “She is a good mother, who loves children and her job. Many people love her and as we celebrate the golden jubilee, we also celebrate her for her dedicated work,” Kemigisa said.
“Sometimes I do not sleep at night because they are always crying. When a child is sick, I take him or her to the hospital and tend to them until they recover. I am happy that I am playing a mother role in the lives of these children.”