12 September 2010

On my first trip to Uganda, as I had never been there and didn’t know anybody in the country, I thought I would save time in locating the needy children by visiting the relief organizations in the country who were presently working with children. Surely they would know the worst areas of need.

I found the first organization and entered their courtyard. The first thing I noticed was a row of 6 brand new off-road trucks, all equipped with satellite equipment. Very nice.  I went into the reception area and explained who I was and asked for assistance in locating the villages in greatest need. The receptionist called the director who took me into a beautiful boardroom. I explained my purpose and asked for some direction. His response rather shocked me. He explained that they don’t know where the greatest needs are as they work more on programs and don’t get involved at the “grassroots” level. He went on to explain that they mostly worked with government agencies. I wondered to myself why they then would need  such  expensive all-terrain vehicles. I asked where the pictures of all the children came from that I saw in the reception area. He clarified that those pictures are mostly for fundraising and are more representative that actual situations. When he saw my consternation he called in one of his case workers for assistance. Unfortunately this didn’t help as the case worker also didn’t know where the greatest needs were. He suggested that we give him three days and he would try and find out the  areas  of need and create a list for me. I thanked them for their time, headed for the slums and of course found many groups in great need.

I found it disheartening that these organizations raise so much funding to “save the children” and yet they don’t even know where they are!