Changing the narrative

Some of the journalists in attendance discussing the importance of children growing up in families during the engagement forum

In Uganda, the media continues to shape the agenda and change public perceptions in the country. However, in matters of children rights and protection, it often portrays orphanages as a good solution without highlighting the harm they cause.

With a view to change this narrative and encourage family based care, we invited top Ugandan journalists to discuss the importance of children growing up in families rather than orphanages.

Changing the narrative 2
Harriet our foster carer taking care of Diana (L) and Prince (R)

Joel spent his childhood in an orphanage and left the care system as a young adult. He shared that he did not know what to do when he left the orphanage. “I wish I had grown up within a family,” he said “I would have a family to call my own,”

Most journalists noted that they had no idea what alternative care is. “When I came here, I did not understand issues surrounding the protection of children, adoption or foster care,” said Juma Sseyid a journalist with Rock Mambo Radio.

After the workshop, we asked Juma what he had learnt, he was quick to say the discussions had armed him with tools to use to promote alternative care.

“My radio station will undertake an initiative to promote adoption and alternative care in Tororo region” he added

Tororo is one of the districts where we are currently working with the Government to transform from dependence on orphanages to family based care.

Lydia Ejon a journalist from Radio Lira also shared that the discussions were an eye opener for her. “I have been inspired to make a positive change,” she said.

One of the policy under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGSLD) is making sure that children in Uganda grow up in families.

Mr. Shafiq Butanda, the head of Alternative Care Unit, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Dev’t speaking to the journalists during the engagement forum

“We encourage that instead of children being placed in residential care facilities, we want to see them going to relatives, the uncles, the sisters, the brothers and the grandparents,” said Shafiq Butanda, the head of Alternative Care Unit, MoGSLD. “To us, family is a better place for children,”

We will continue to inform and equip journalists with alternative care options. Together, we can make families, not orphanages.