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Gloves for Guns

Sports and other support for former child soldiers to help them reintegrate into society. Boxing, track and football (soccer) will be coached while these young men complete their education to at least primary level. The grant would go to constructing sports, educational and living facilities for at least 100 children and young adults. Playing sports is an important part of the healing process. These boys were abducted from their homes as young as eight years of age and forced to kill as a way of life. They lose all connection with their families and there is little hope of finding their families again on their own. The boys arrive at Mukono, the nearby town, by bus and on foot, homeless and bewildered. The project must provide emergency lodging and food, while arranging lodging in nearby homes for those we cannot accommodate, while the boys go to school and socialize through sports. The confidence, self-esteem and sense of belonging achieved through sports are a vital therapy for these severely traumatized children. Working with the UN and other NGOs in the North, we will try to locate lost family members. Where feasible, we will arrange secondary education with our partner school, and within three years we intend to provide basic IT instruction at our facility. Boxing is especially popular in Uganda and, in the case of disabled child soldiers, can be tailored to many levels of ability. These children were forcefully deprived of their childhoods and are missing a critical part of human development: play. Social, emotional, cognitive and physical development depends on play. We will provide a place where these young people are always welcome, safe, and comfortable and where they are free to play and learn and discover themselves.

Who is the sponsoring organization?

Malaika Youth Project. Malaika Youth Project is a non-profit trust in East London, England and Masindi, Uganda. In London, we tackle crime and disaffected youth (usually not in employment or education) through free sports and academic tutoring. In Uganda, the challenges are more critical and our mission is to provide shelter, sports and education for street children. We aim to have green sports, educational and living facilities in Uganda that will be free of charge to former child soldiers and homeless children. Fruit trees, vegetable gardening and keeping chickens are part of the plan to build financial sustainability. The London organization will do most of the fundraising. We have raised about $6,000 toward the project so far. The Uganda group will work with local partners such as: Queen Sylvia Nagginda of Buganda, who will encourage former child soldiers to come to us; Paul Bakaluba Mukasa, former member of parliament and director of the nearby Paul Mukasa Day & Boarding Primary School; and Majib Kasule and his Proline Soccer Academy. In collaboration with local authorities in Mukono, a city which is walking distance from our property, we can get children that we cannot accommodate placed in homes and enrolled in school through national government programs. We would be an important point of entry for those kidnapped children to rejoin civil society. While they can be as young as ten, they will typically be between young teens through age 25. Great design is a powerful way to support our goals, not only by being environmentally sustainable but also by being friendly and encouraging a sense of community. Websites: (Uganda) http://mayopu.org (London) http://malaikayouthproject.org.uk and www.malaikablog.com http://mayopu.org

Where will the project be located?

Bajjo, between Seeta and Mukono, Kampala, Uganda

Bajjo. According to Google Earth, longitude is 32 43 15.51 and latitude is 0 22 15.68. Please note the province is Mukono, but the website did not recognize it. It is near Kampala. Extending to the Kampala-Jinja Highway, this large plot of land is walking distance from Mukono, where former child soldiers come through or get stuck as homeless children. The large blue structures nearby to the east (seen on Google Earth) are chicken hatcheries. The area is forested and farmed, with clayey soil. There are currently two houses on the site, close to the road. We are not far from a clay brick fabrication facility in Seeta, and believe our property is suitable for construction. The property is owned by us, however, if for some reason it is deemed to be unsuitable, the Kingdom of Buganda will give us the use of a plot of good land for 49 years.

Do facilities at the location need to be constructed or upgraded?

Yes. We can supply computer generated images of the design for our facilities, created by an architect and an engineer, out of the very earth on our site. Durable, low-maintenance, environmentally friendly and made entirely from local materials, the structures are designed to be constructed quickly, cheaply and in such a way as to be easy and unobtrusive to “add on” as we are able to afford more buildings. We need everything from the ground up – a track for running, a boxing gym, and a level field in addition to the green-roofed earth buildings and storm water management.

Are any further architectural or design services required?

No.

Would this project benefit from the assistance of construction professionals?

Yes. We need on-the-ground expert assistance. An RIBA architect and an engineer in London (both familiar with building in Africa) have given us their services, but we have not secured any expert assistance in Uganda.