Otino Waa started out of a desperate need to protect orphaned children from being abducted by the LRA and becoming child soldiers. What began as a rescue mission in 2002 and 2003 has developed into a home, school and family for over 300 orphaned children. Over the years, we have sought out the most vulnerable, desolate children to take into our orphanage. Our desire was to meet the greatest, most dire needs.
Many of our children come from dangerous or abusive situations. For example, there are three siblings who were quickly taken in after their uncle murdered their mother to take over the family's plot of land. He was arrested, but escaped and, at the time of taking in the three children, he was on the loose. We took them in as they had no living parents and their village was not safe for them. Other kids come from situations where they were taken in by relatives or neighbors, but were made into servants rather then joining part of a family, forced to do hard labor, steal for food or beg on the streets. Other children have had serious medical conditions and their family could not care for them or they were unwanted and abandoned because of their medical problems or deformity.
It is for these types of children and situations that Otino Waa exists, and will continue to exist.
As Uganda has stabilized since the end of the war, we no longer are fighting the LRA and child abduction, but are now fighting AIDs, extreme generational poverty, a broken economy, disease, unsafe water and hunger. Working in the heart of northern Uganda for over 15 years, we are constantly faced with the realities of the conditions children are trying to survive in.
In 2018, we stepped out in faith to create a second branch of Otino Waa called Community Based Care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, in order to reach deeper into the villages around Otino Waa. By utilizing the community based care model, we are able to serve exponentially more children then ever before and make our resources stretch further.
The types of children and families that fit into a community based model include children who may have a living mother, grandmother or relative who is willing and physically capable of caring for the children - but who needs assistance with basic necessities like food, clothing and education. By sponsoring these children to go to school and providing basic food or medical assistance, we are able to lift a great burden off the family, allowing them to put money for school fees towards a small business start up, purchasing an animal or buy seeds to plant. The children are receiving a high quality education and are served two meals a day at Otino Waa. After only a month of being in community based care, many children had gained between 5-10 pounds!
We believe that there is a great need for both models of care in Uganda. We strive follow God's leading and utilize our resources to the greatest capacity, and we know that to do this, we will continue to learn and adapt to the changes happening in the region we work in. We want to stay relevant in meeting the needs and interacting with the current situation in northern Uganda.