The Karamojong

     

Who are the Karamajong?

The majority of our children are members of the Karamojong tribe. Historically, the Karamojong were nomadic pastoralists (ranchers) of the Karamoja region in northeastern Uganda. Our children are from the Moroto district of Karamoja, and for various reasons have become displaced to the Masese village slums near Jinja. Although the socioeconomic climate in this region is complex, the families of our children have generally struggled through famine and territorial militarism, resulting in their ultimate migration towards the city. Many of our children have surviving relatives, either nearby around Jinja, or back near Moroto.
 
We make every effort to keep our children in contact with their relatives, as an integral component of the support system we foster around them. With a lack of understanding from the Ugandan government and other officials, the nomadic way of life is under attack. As one Karamojong elder explained:
 

There is too much blood being spilled on the land. The rituals are not performed as they should be. The government approaches us and our children with violence – they do not know our lives. The insecurity is finishing the animals and the young men. Perhaps Akuju [supreme creator] has left us for now to finish ourselves.

As we try to preserve what remaining ties to the rich traditions of the Karamojong these children still have, the reality is their ancestors’ beautiful way of life is gradually being pushed out by the modernization of Africa. Please take a look at some of the following websites to learn more about this unique culture of warrior-farmers.
 
Below are the links to informational pages about the Karamojong:

Link 1   Link 2    Link 3    

A day in the life of a street child..

4:00 am comes early, but by this time, the street child is well into his or her day. These children wake and walk (barefoot usually) the three to four kilometers from Masese village to Jinja town. The children are divided into groups, or teams (the same type that our children were once a part of), each expected to complete a task for the day. This might be searching through the garbage bins for food, begging local business owners for left-overs, or collecting firewood and charcoal or scrap metal to sell. These children are also expected by their parents or “care-givers” to return with money (the reason we see so many begging on the streets).

At around 9:00 pm, the day is done, and the children return home and hand in their day’s collection. If they are very lucky, they will get a small meal before bed, then wake up to start the whole thing over again. If the child was unsuccessful in collecting food and money for the day, they will be beaten and sent to bed hungry. Some children do not even have a family to return to; classed as ‘full-time’ they are runaways and occupy the streets twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. These children must face not only starvation and illness, but also the brutal batons of the local “police” and ill-meaning civilians who feel they deserve to be beaten.