In 1987, the last bloody civil war in Uganda came to an end. A huge number of children had lost their parents. The once rich country had become one of the poorest on earth. After the new government had begun its work, L’ESPERANCE offered its help to orphans in early 1988. At the time, armed gangs of former soldiers were still roaming the countryside murdering and looting.
It was to take years before security was restored in most areas of the country. Only 13 km from the capital Kampala, L’ESPERANCE took over a 45 hectare property in a beautiful location directly on Lake Victoria.
Even before the land was transferred and construction work could begin, help for orphans began: 25 parentless children were provided with accommodation and learning in Christian boarding schools to relieve the worst of the need until the first orphanages were completed. These were soon joined by 25 more orphans, while in 1989 an access road was constructed and construction of family homes began. The following year, the first orphans were able to move in. Most had lost their parents in the fighting and horrors of war. Some parents had died of diseases, mainly AIDS.
In addition to the family houses, a school and a community center for church services and social meetings were built in the children’s village. Large garden areas and orchards were planted. A medical outpatient clinic with a small maternity ward, workshops for metal, wood, textile and leather processing, a small store and a stable for keeping chickens were built.
Gradually, 100 orphans were admitted, who, in addition to schooling, received practical instruction in the various areas of work of the Children’s Village.
In 2011, after 23 years in which L’ESPERANCE consistently provided help to needy orphans in Kirinda, this children’s village had to be closed. The reason was a new Ugandan law which, after a referendum, allowed the Buganda tribe to establish representative kingship. It also gave back all the land that had belonged to the king before the civil wars. The latter was not willing to take over the hereditary lease that L’ESPERANCE had signed with the government.
With the loss of the beautiful lakefront property, we were urged to vacate the buildings as quickly as possible. This left 100 children and young people homeless. For them, it was now a matter of making the best of the situation and reorganizing their future. They were sent to expensive boarding schools. Arrangements were made with distant relatives and helpful families for all of them to have a place to stay during the vacations.
After five weeks of intensive search, we managed to buy the beautifully located property
Kinyo on Lake Victoria, and start from scratch.
In 2012, the construction of the living quarters for the director and two small guest houses was started.
In 2013, Matthias Kowoll ensured the water supply of the children’s village in only four weeks in a remarkable engineering achievement, from the capture of two springs to a distribution house and 5.4 km of pipes. The buildings that had been started were completed and the construction of the first houses for orphans began.
In 2014, 40 small children moved into the new houses, all of them coming from misery unimaginable for us. A chicken coop for 1,000 animals was built, a banana plantation was established, a cacao plantation was started, a timber plantation was undertaken and vegetables were grown.
By January 2015, the necessary infrastructure was complete. All major departments were in operation. A kindergarten and the first two classes of the elementary school could be opened in February. The 40 resident children in the village were immediately joined by 80 children from the surrounding area. We provide exemption from school fees for poor families from the surrounding area.