This is how the children of HOREMI live

“How do the chil­dren live? And how are they doing?” These are common ques­tions that we can now answer thanks to the insights we gained during our visit to HOREMI in March 2024.

First of all, it is impor­tant to know that Uganda is one of the poorest coun­tries in the world despite its rich nature. Accord­ingly, the living condi­tions cannot be compared with our western stan­dards. 

In our opinion, the chil­dren at HOREMI are doing well, espe­cially by local stan­dards. They are safe, live in a good commu­nity, have a roof over their heads, are fed regu­larly and can go to school. None of this can be taken for granted in Uganda.

Location & surroundings

Hope and Rescue Missions Inter­na­tional, HOREMI, is situ­ated in a quiet and secluded loca­tion about 25 kilo­me­ters east of Iganga, the capital of the district of the same name. The last ten kilo­me­ters lead along a dusty dirt road past small hamlets and scat­tered huts. The “road” gets narrower and bumpier, and when you can go no further, you have arrived.

The build­ings of HOREMI stand on a large open space surrounded by fields and a few small houses and huts of the adja­cent neigh­bors: the two dormi­to­ries for boys and girls, a chicken coop, a ruin (which is to become the new office of the orphanage), “The Shade” (a covered open space), two latrines (one each for the orphanage and school), the new school building and the newly built small kitchen house with store­room.

On the way to HOREMI: Typical street scene, here the local butcher’s shop with attached snack bar …

The 0° show: HOREMI is close to the equator. The “roads” shown here in bold are single-lane dirt tracks. In general, Google Maps should be used with caution in Uganda.

The entrance to the HOREMI school: the new school building in the shade on the left, the play­ground on the right, the school toilet in the back­ground.

In front of the school building is the spacious play­ground and sports field. The house in the back­ground no longer belongs to HOREMI, a neighbor lives here.

The “main street” of HOREMI: the school on the right, the old kitchen building on the left, which now serves as a “drinks machine” (clay jugs with water). The bright roof at the back belongs to “The Shade”, a covered open space between the boys’ and girls’ dormi­to­ries.

Kitchen house and pantry (still under construc­tion). In the fore­ground, the ubiq­ui­tous yellow water canis­ters. In the back­ground, a few shady spots for the lunch break.

On the left the chicken coop, next to it the latrine for the orphanage. The boys’ dormi­tory on the far right.

Sleeping & Living

The orphanage consists of one dormi­tory for the girls and one for the boys. Each house has two rooms, one for the little ones and one for the older chil­dren. The little ones share a bed in pairs. Rather unusual for us, but a posi­tive normality for the chil­dren. Many of them never had a bed in their previous lives.

The dormi­to­ries are only for sleeping, they “live”, learn and play outside. Meals are usually also served outside, but on special occa­sions or when it rains really hard (oh yes, it does rain here …) a class­room is converted into a dining hall.

The boys’ dormi­tory. Typi­cally “a bit disor­ga­nized”, says Kenneth :-). The little ones share a bed. A big step forward, because in the old days they slept on thin floor mats.

Similar picture and system for the girls. Not in the picture: the room temper­a­ture of 38 degrees Celsius …

One of the four solar-powered “sun glasses” brought along, which will bring light into the dark­ness at night in the orphanage.

A short power nap before lessons start again: the home-made school benches are multi­func­tional.

“Dining room” in the shade of a mango tree.

The shady school veranda is a popular lounge and break area. However, colorful soft drinks are not part of the normal supply, but in this case an appre­ci­ated small dona­tion from the German guests.

The “boss’s office” also serves as a teaching mate­rials store and medi­cine cabinet.

Cooking & Eating

Food is a central item on the HOREMI agenda — and the biggest cost factor. Lukia, the cook, prepares all meals on an open fire in the newly built small kitchen.

The HOREMI kids (the orphan­age’s “own” chil­dren) are given a small break­fast in the morning consisting of tea, some milk, chapati (flat­bread) and some­times a banana or some toast. Some of this is kept by the chil­dren as a snack. Five days a week, lunch consists of posho (maize porridge) and beans or cabbage. On Thurs­days and Sundays, the cook serves rice with broth and a tiny piece of meat. The portions of the side dishes are substan­tial, but we have never seen a plate not completely eaten. The left­overs from lunch are served for dinner.

The school kids from outside who can pay for it also get the usual lunch. Everyone else (the poorer majority) gets a cup of liquid porridge: thin milk with a little oatmeal. Some chil­dren bring their own food, for example sweet pota­toes or plan­tains.

There is no running water for cooking, drinking and washing; it has to be brought in canis­ters from the bore­hole around 200 meters away. A “waterman” takes on the lion’s share of this very stren­uous work, but the chil­dren also fill and carry smaller canis­ters in the evenings, while they skill­fully balance slightly larger ones on their heads.

Kitchen with single-burner stove and XXL cook­ware. All meals for the HOREMI chil­dren and other (paying) pupils are prepared here.

Water does not come out of the tap at HOREMI, but has to be labo­ri­ously brought in canis­ters.

Cook Lukia distrib­uting the lunch ration fairly.

Rice is served twice a week. And it has to be checked for stones and unwanted foreign protein before­hand.  

Serving food in the class­room that was quickly converted into a dining hall. There is rice and cabbage. A piece of sweet potato and a fork for the guests. The chil­dren and most of the teachers eat with their (right) hand.

The portions at lunch are very generous, even for the little ones. Dinner consists of left­overs from lunch.  

It looks like dessert, but in this case it is an exclu­sive starter. Fresh fruit is expen­sive and there­fore rarely on the menu.

After the meal, the dishes are washed up together without grum­bling and the draining rack is slightly larger than usual.   

Sweet soda is only served on special occa­sions and is there­fore enjoyed rever­ently and in small doses.

Housekeeping & agriculture

In addi­tion to the manage­ment and teaching staff, other “locals” are involved in the day-to-day running of HOREMI. The “Matron” Peruse is respon­sible for child­care, laundry, farm animals and the kitchen. Brian is the man in charge of agri­cul­ture and a stand-in for every­thing else. Lukia is the cook and helps out at the orphanage and school. A water sprite and a night watchman complete the team. And of course all the chil­dren are involved in the daily chores. What struck us very posi­tively was how inde­pen­dently and natu­rally the chil­dren take on all kinds of tasks.

Ugandan washing machines and tumble dryers don’t need elec­tricity (which doesn’t exist here anyway), but hard-working hands do.             

Multi­func­tional court­yard: The laundry dries just as well here as the rice, which the free-range chickens also like to snack on.

Clearly arranged kitchen cupboard acces­sible from all sides with 360 degree venti­la­tion.

As soon as the chil­dren are a little older, they take care of the little ones as a matter of course.

Everyone has their own job. And if it doesn’t fit, it’s made to fit.

Proud fleet of vehi­cles: A bicycle that still lives up to its name and a so-called “Boda Boda” (small motor­cycle, the public trans­port stan­dard in Uganda).

The current live­stock: 3 cows, 11 goats and 45 chickens (which are unfor­tu­nately also very popular with thieves).

A little farming contributes to HOREMI’s liveli­hood. Ground nuts, the second most impor­tant legume in Uganda (after beans), grow on this field. The crop is harvested twice a year.

A small trial field for maize, with banana plants in the back­ground. Although there is plenty of natural irri­ga­tion overall, it is very irreg­ular. And there is prob­ably a lack of adapted seed.

Take that, Swabians! At HOREMI, the side­walk is swept every (!) evening …

Children, children …

How worth­while are the efforts of Naume, Kenneth, the whole HOREMI team and you, our friends and spon­sors? Have a look your­selve:

Made possible by your support. Mwebaale!

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