Religion: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census)
Percentage living below the poverty line: 24.5%
A little bit of history
Winston Churchill once described Uganda as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, owing to its striking scenery. However, over the years Uganda has suffered great unrest and tragedy. After achieving independence from Britain in 1962, the following years plunged the country into chaos. Years of civil war under the leadership of Idi Amin and Milton Obote took the lives of more than 400,000 Ugandans and destroyed the economic and social foundations of the nation.
Since 1986, under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni, the country has enjoyed relative stability. However, in the north the government remains locked in conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group of rebel fighters who are renowned for the brutality and use of child soldiers. The region is hugely insecure and tens of thousands of people have been displaced as a result of the conflict.
How Uganda makes a living
Uganda is a remarkably green country, with substantial natural resources, fertile soils and regular rainfall. As a result, agriculture is vital to the country’s economy, employing more than 80% of the work force. The government, with support from international organisations, has made a huge effort to stabilise the economy by reforming the currency and raising producer prices on export crops and petroleum products. These changes are having a positive impact and Uganda is now one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, boosted by the recent discovery of oil.
Challenges faced by children
Despite economic progress, life remains tough for many children in Uganda. The AIDS pandemic ravaged the country in the 1980s and 1990s. While efforts to curb the spread have led to a reduction in rates of infection, there are still an estimated two million AIDS orphans in Uganda. Many of these children have not only had to deal with immense grief, they’ve also been left with the huge responsibility of caring for themselves and their siblings. In the north of the country, where civil war is still rife, children already living in abject poverty are also at risk of being recruited to fight as child soldiers for the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Compassion in Uganda
Compassion's ministry in Uganda began in 1980. Currently, more than 93,500 children are being given teaching, health checks, nutritious food and support by 342 church-based projects.
What sponsored children learn in Uganda
During a project day in Uganda, sponsored children will typically take part in activities such as:
9.00am Prayer time.
9.30am Spiritual lessons. Children sing songs and learn Bible stories.
10.30amBreak time with snacks. Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships. Every child is provided with a nutritional snack such as tea, porridge and a bun.
11.00am Social lessons. From conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem and a Godly character, children are taught social and personal skills.
12.00pm Lunch consists of maize, rice or plantains with beans, peas or beef.
13.00pm Health lessons. Children are taught practical health and hygiene tips such as how to prevent malaria and HIV.
14.00pmLetter writing and career planning. Older children work with project staff to identify their strengths and interests, setting realistic goals for their future.
Older sponsored children are also given vocational training in skills such as carpentry, tailoring, and mat-making. Parents are offered monthly classes on adult literacy and quarterly training on topics such as hygiene, parenting and income-generating activities.