It all started here! When Simon and Nicola Neal followed God’s call to Uganda in 2009, He broke their hearts for those they met living in the slums around the capital. It was here that Every Life began – seeing lives transformed in the poorest neighbourhoods. We now work in seven different communities on the outskirts of the city.
Rural to urban migration in Uganda means Kampala’s population is growing by 5% each year. In fact UNICEF now estimates that 70% of people in Kampala live in slum communities. Typical issues here are unsafe and unhealthy homes, overcrowding, limited access to basic services (from clean water and waste disposal to health and education), and lack of secure land rights. Consequently, health problems are persistent, safety is a big concern, flooding is common, and families are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. For example, in slums there tend to be fewer schools, standards are often lower, drop-out rate (due to ill health) is higher, and it’s hard to do homework without electricity for lights.
This is the backdrop to our work in the slum-communities of Kampala…
What we do
Each week, the whole team (30 staff) spend a morning ‘on the front line’. They visit one slum community each week as an opportunity to meet new families, and touch base with people the team already know. Building relationships, identifying needs and offering to pray with people, are the priorities. The families that we identify who need additional support are then supported by our Frontline team. This may be emergency (or regular) food parcels, medical emergencies, or ongoing support regarding domestic abuse and child protection.
In Kampala, our work with slum communities is complemented by our ‘Family Centre’ – located in a quiet rural area outside the city, it provides temporary housing and support for struggling families that need urgent care and intervention.
In each of the seven communities where we work, 20-25 people meet each week as part of our Life Group programme. They cover a wide range of topics including healthy living, parenting, income generation and money management. However, it is not simply the training on these topics which is of benefit – enabling people to meet and share their lives together is also empowering. Alongside each Life Group, we have a Discipleship Group. These provide an opportunity to learn more about what the Bible has to say about day-to-day life, pray with one another, and see first-hand what happens when people encounter Jesus.
We also run specific courses to address specific issues. One of these is our Nutrition Programme which is a three-month course that enables children to put life-limiting malnutrition behind them. Another is our recently launched adult literacy class where 30 women are learning to read and write.
Most of our 28 Champions have experienced first-hand, the impact our programmes and an encounter with Jesus can have. As members of the community, they are then able to relate to people, and influence change in a powerful way.
Take our 14 Health Champions as an example. They identify children who are malnourished and either need emergency medical attention or would benefit from our Nutrition Training programmes. They also perform regular check-ins with those who are already on our Nutrition Programme in order to monitor their progress. We have seen lives saved and desperate situations turned around through their kindness, local knowledge and presence on the ground. With their help, we are able to reach far more people than would be possible with only our team.
Each week, 80 – 100 children, in our seven communities, come together for an action-packed time of games, songs, and Bible stories. It’s a great chance to teach them some simple skills, like brushing our teeth, how and why we wash our hands and learning to count. Not only that but it also provides us with an opportunity to identify children who are at risk from neglect or malnutrition. In the holidays, numbers increase to 150 – 200 children each week (per community)!
Each year, more than 150 children attend our annual Children’s Camp at our Family Centre. It is an opportunity for fun, learning new skills, and encountering Jesus through prayer, worship and teaching.