Vanessa is 9 yrs old and lives in Acholi Quarters with her mum, her grandmother, 3 younger siblings, and 4 cousins. Her father died last year, and the mother of the cousins (Vanessa’s maternal aunt) is also deceased.
Vanessa used to go to school. She was in P3 when her father died. Since then, her mother hasn’t been able to earn money to pay the school fees, and so Vanessa had to drop out of school. She now attends Hopeful Haven where she is able to continue to practice reading, writing, and maths. Vanessa says ‘I like Hopeful Haven because I like to learn. I would like to be a doctor when I am older and help make people better. It is my dream to be able to go to school again next year’.
Hopeful Haven is an informal educational provision set up by the members of the Lubanga Ber cooperative in Acholi Quarters, and funded in part by CRED Foundation. Each day, up to 20 ‘morning children’ and 20 ‘afternoon children’ attend the scheme, all of whom are unable to go to mainstream school due to lack of finances. Some of the children are like Vanessa, and have attended school in the past. Others have never had the opportunity, and so for them, attending Hopeful Haven is their first experience of receiving an education. Hopeful Haven is basic in what it can offer, but through it, teacher Miriam provides the children with hope, and a chance to gain the basic educational skills. As a result, if an opportunity arises for any of the children to go to mainstream school, they are better equipped.
The children also get a mug of porridge whilst they are at the Haven, which for some will be the only food that they get until their parent or guardian gets home from seeking work in the evening.