What you need to know:
Having grown up among the vulnerable children she used to rescue from the streets, raising them in a good environment and educating them, I thought it was best if I took it on
Bashir Musaazi is a teacher and one of the directors at Buloba Royal college school but besides that, he also manages a foundation called Africa Children Heart Uganda which takes care of vulnerable children. Isaac Ssejjombwe had a one on one with him about his love for street children.
Where did the idea of starting an orphanage come from?
It was my mother's idea, Elizabeth Beverly Nakacwa (RIP) was the founder of the orphanage. Being an only child, I took it over after she passed on. Having grown up among the vulnerable children she used to rescue from the streets, raising them in a good environment and educating them, I thought it was best if I took it on. It was a very hard time for us when she passed but I had to keep the legacy.
What does Africa Children’s Heart Foundation do?
The orphanage that is located in Mpigi Buwama Sango helps vulnerable children most especially street children. We rescue street children and rehabilitate them. Among the vulnerable include the blind, victims of rape, the disabled, and those living with HIV among others.
How do you convince these children to abandon the streets?
Some need to be rescued but not many people can help them out so it is easier for us when it comes to such children while others are used to street life. These are the most complicated ones but we take it as a process. We first talk to them, and then we show them the advantages of living on the streets among other things. Recently, we rescued a boy from Kasese who was working in the salt mines and selling and using drugs at the same time. We are trying to rehabilitate him and I am currently living with him at home before I take him to the orphanage.
Like that boy who was mining salt, many others are getting some money on the streets, and how do you prepare them mentally to abandon the streets?
It has been hard getting a child from the streets to settle in an organized community. We talk to them, give them all the care and advise them. Some of the volunteers are professional people. We have a nurse, two teachers, and someone who is qualified in counseling and guidance.
Tell us about the process of rescuing these children
We work with the Ministry Of Gender which gave us papers authorizing us to do this kind of work, we also talk to community leaders who sometimes get these children and hand them over.
How many children are you looking after and how many people do you work with in this orphanage?
We are looking after 32 children so far. We are a team of ten volunteers some of whom were my mother’s friends.
Is your team qualified to handle these children?
Yes, they are. As I said we have counselors and teachers. With my journey to where I am, I believe the children relate with me because I was once on the same path as them.
Do you face any challenges?
My dream is to rescue at least 10,000 children but I still have limited space, so I have to manage with what I have for now. I was lucky to make friends who turned who became partners from the United States known as Friends of Africa Children’s Heart and they have been helping us with some donations along the way. Aside from that we still face the challenge of education since we can't afford to take them all to school but we do homeschooling for them especially hands-on skills.
How have you been managing to run this foundation?
I have been using my salary to feed them and I also sell the products they make like success cards among others but still, we couldn’t manage on our own. However, Covid 19 outbreak was a blessing in disguise. It opened up doors for us to be known. A lady known as Mandy and her husband Doc have played a vital role in this foundation. This year, our children got a chance to get formal education. We have two girls in secondary, others are in elementary schools while others are in primary.
Where do you see the foundation a few years from now?
God willing, I want to have rescued every child on the street, by getting them homes and seeing them live better lives. I was a victim of such a situation and Mr Matovu Abdallah Ssebyala, the founder/ Director of Buloba Royal college school rescued me and is also funding this foundation.