By Jessi Hanson, (PhD student), & Cynthia Caul, (MID)
Sponsored by the Ford Institute for Human Security, on October 7th, 2015 Victoria Nalongo Namusisi presented to GSPIA on the history and current work of Bright Kids Uganda (BKU). Victoria is the founder and director of this Ugandan organization and children's home, located in Entebbe. Founded in 2000, the organization strives to assist children of variety of backgrounds, primarily who are: orphaned and abandoned, physically impaired, contracted HIV/AIDS, living on the streets or rescued from Internally Displaced Peoples' (IDP) camps due to war and conflict. The organization takes on children of all ages, and supports these children as they grow, even into their early adult years. Children receive safe, supportive shelter, food security, quality education, and entrepreneurial skills training. Education is at the forefront of Bright Kids Uganda's work. Each child receives schooling or educational scholarships on a yearly basis. Much of the costs of the children's education is funded through an international sponsorship program and donor/partnership support. During her presentation, Ms. Nalongo Namusisi provided a first-hand example of what human security program implementation can look like on the ground. She shed light on the realities of navigating difficult, sometimes seemingly unbearable, social situations related to the mission and scope of human security organizations, as well as more generalizable information about non-profit management.
Nalongo Namusisi shared a number of heart-wrenching stories about the children she has fostered during her years running BKU. The stories specifically detailed cases of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence and acid attacks in Uganda. In creating BKU, Ms. Nalongo Namusisi has been able to facilitate change in her sphere of influence. By providing BKU beneficiaries with a stable home, daily meals, access to health care, education and a support systems, BKU is able to change the course of these individuals’ lives.
Ms. Nalongo Namusisi also spoke at length on the subject of sustainability, and the importance of cultivating honest and transparent relationships with donors and prospective contributors. As BKU continues to grow, Nalongo Namusisi explained the challenges BKU faces financially in accommodating more children, while simultaneously experiencing diminishing individual donations due to donor fatigue. Part of the organization’s strategy for mitigating the impact of donor fatigue is investing in income-generating activities to aid the organization in achieving a level of self-sustenance. BKU was recently awarded a $50,000.00 grant that has been used to this end, by investing in agricultural lands, rabbit rearing, and other income-generating activities. This past summer, one GSPIA intern was able to help launch the rabbit rearing project—now in its third generation, as well as witness BKU’s very first maize harvest.
To learn more about the work of Victoria Nalongo Namusisi and Bright Kids Uganda, please visit www.brightkidsuganda.net. Ms. Nalongo Namusisi has visited campus twice before and you may view news articles of her past presentations here (2012 and 2013), as well as videos of her lectures on the GSPIA YouTube channel (2012 and 2013).