Child Sponsorship Father Christmas visits Northern Uganda Father Christmas visits Northern Uganda We all know Father Christmas could never deliver presents to every household in the world on one night. His sleigh would have to travel many times faster than a jet fighter and his reindeer would burn up going that fast! Well, in fact he is still delivering Christmas presents and is currently in Northern Uganda. Our Child Sponsorship Coordinators Joseph Sabiiti and Catherine Essanyu, who head up Amigos’ Child Sponsorship Programme, are delivering Christmas presents to the sponsored children. After the tough year of 2020 with a COVID-19 lockdown and a travel ban, they are delighted to be back finally in the communities. Our Child Sponsorship programme is an essential and integral part of our outreach programme in the rural communities, like a cog in a machine. It does not only help a child but supports a family for three years. The child is supported with school materials and a uniform while their caregiver joins one of our farming groups to learn conservation farming and business skills. Once the three years are over, the family is ready to support their child fully, having learned to increase their crop yields significantly, provide for themselves and plan for a better future. Managing the Child Sponsorship programme requires care and dedication. Amid tens of thousands of children in the rural communities where we are working, finding the children and families suitable for the programme is a painstaking process. And keeping in touch with current children and ensuring good links with sponsors is a key feature of the work. The Journey North So on 27 January 2021, Joseph and Catherine embarked on their month-long journey to visit children in their localities. The purpose was to visit the current children, distribute Christmas gifts, check on how they and their families are doing, receive the children’s letters to the sponsors, add new children for the next three years and meet new officials and pastors in the new sub county. Joseph and Catherine love it and love the children. The long 1023km journey on dusty and bumpy dirt roads, the scorching hot temperatures, the bush fires, missing their normal food and even the struggle to find enough water are all worth it. It’s especially rewarding they say, “Because we get to see the joy of these vulnerable children receiving Christmas gifts – comfortable mattresses mean the end of the straw mats on the floor! We love the change we see in these children that they can now write on their own and the impact of the food distributions that came in at the right time.” In their month away, Joseph and Catherine are visiting four districts – Lira, Gulu, Masindi and Wakiso. They write, “In total we have 465 children to visit and we will recruit 70 more children ready to add to the programme on top of these.” How the typical day unfolds for Joseph and Catherine! “We are up by 6:00am and we start our day with prayer. We normally start on the planned activities early and we are out on the road by 7:00am as for many of our sub counties it often takes an hour to get there. By 8:00am we are meeting the caregivers together with their children, and after the pastor opens in prayer we all take a turn to express our thoughts. Next we update our photos of each child before the sun is too hot after which the letter-writing begins at 10:00am which usually carries on until 4:00pm. While this is happening caregivers meet with the pastor for advice and counselling. But often these timescales don’t quite work out. Children and caregivers come to the church on foot, frequently from a long way, and if they are late we might not finish there until 6:30pm and won’t arrive back at our lodgings until 7:30pm. We prepare for a late dinner at 8:30 pm and we talk through the plans for the next day during dinner time. We then retire to bed at 10:00 pm till the next day starts again." Do you have any stories (especially funny or insightful ones) you could share? During the update photo-taking there was a little child called Patrick who kept on imitating Joseph as he would instruct these children about their standing positions while he was taking the pictures. Little Patrick would imitate Joseph by saying, “Smile, look up and move in front” in his little voice and make the crowd burst into laughter. So if you would like to sponsor a child and by part of the story of transformation in their life, please visit our Child Sponsorship pages.