In crime-ridden slum in Kampala, mom feeds kids by selling coal

(Photo: Chuck Bigger for Compassion Intl)

In this crime-ridden neighborhood in the slums of Kampala, Mariam, 8, her three siblings, and their mother, Goretti Namata, live in a rented clay home with a leaky roof. Floral curtains divide the living area from the family’s bed. Just outside the door is a cooking area and a heap of charcoal that Goretti sells.

But she doesn’t sell enough to meet all her family’s needs. Her customer base lives in the same neighborhood and can’t afford to buy much charcoal. Her husband, who helps with the charcoal business, recently moved in with another woman down the street. Adding further stress for Goretti, she worries that her home will be bulldozed.

Goretti and Miriam (Photo: Chuck Bigger)

“We’ve already received notices from the government that they want to destroy this whole place, remove all these ramshackle houses,” Goretti says. “They could get rid of us at any time.”

Despite these ongoing hardships, the family’s situation has improved immensely over the past eight years.

When Compassion’s local church partners in Kampala first visited the slum to offer help to families there, they found Goretti feeding tea to newborn Mariam. They asked why she wasn’t breast-feeding the baby, and Goretti said she couldn’t afford formula and was afraid she would give her daughter HIV, which Goretti had been diagnosed with in 2005.

Seeing that Mariam was malnourished, the church workers immediately registered her and Goretti in

Kampala neighborhood where Goretti lives

Compassion’s Child Survival Program. Babies and their caregivers in the program receive health care, spiritual guidance, food, education and other crucial support, thanks to Compassion donors. Program workers delivered groceries to Goretti, including formula and supplements to boost the baby’s health. Thankfully, Mariam tested free of HIV.

To ensure that the mother could better meet her family’s future needs, Compassion trained Goretti in income generation. After learning more about running a small business, she and her husband took out a $450 loan from the bank, which they used to by a large supply of charcoal. Their business began to pick up. Now on typical days, Goretti makes about $3 to $4. She pays $19 a month in rent and $12 a week in loan repayment on top of other costs of raising four children.– Compassion International

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