THE ADONAI CENTRE
A HISTORY OF HOPE
Uganda faces an ongoing crisis – 2.9 million children are orphaned as a result of civil strife and the HIV/AIDS crisis, from a total population of more than 41 million. Founded on Christian principles, Adonai is a community-based, nonprofit organization doing its best to respond to the needs of the children that reside in the small, rural community.
The Adonai Child Development Center was founded in 2005 by Pastor Aloysious Luswata and his wife, Abby. Pastor Luswata heads the Victors Church, an evangelical church in Nsaggu, a village of about 1,000 people in Wakiso District, Uganda. The church was founded in 1992 with few resources, yet was able to thrive due to the determination of Luswata and his dedication to the people. The Congregation today consists of about 100 families.
From the beginning, the spiritual needs of the community were overwhelmed by poverty. Children especially were suffering, so the Church accepted this as a call to action. Pastor and Abby started small by taking in children into their own home, those who would otherwise be on the streets. And though the Church had little – its only structure, a temporary one of mud and thatch – it lent support to the opening of a small community school in 1997.
The school opened with just 30 children. Unfortunately, students' families could not afford even modest school fees, and the Church could not cover the teachers salaries on its own. After three years of struggle, the school closed in 2000.
Pastor and Abby would not be deterred. In 2004, Abby, a trained teacher, left her government position to work full-time with her husband. In 2005, they started a new school, this time with the benefit of experience. The Church was on stronger footing, their temporary structure, which had collapsed during a service in 2000, was replaced with a permanent one. The earlier attempt had also left them with a humble but usable structure in which to begin teaching. Starting with more students also meant that there were more who could afford school fees. This time, the school started with 105 students in preschool through P3. The class size quickly grew to 270 students by the beginning of 2012 and is close to 350 students today. While only about 40% of its students can afford the modest school fees of 90,000 UGX per year (approximately $30 US or £20), the school receives additional support from the church and a few private donors.
In 2006, a donor in the UK provided 50 m UGX (then about $24,000 US or £13,000) for the purchase of a 1.8 acre plot of land to build a home for orphans who could not be accommodated with relatives and families in the village. In addition, three local benefactors provided a 15 m UGX interest free loan, the final amount to secure the land the Centre now occupies.
In 2007, the aid organization Fields of Life brought a volunteer team to Namugoga to construct a block of seven classrooms and two offices that now houses the school.
In 2008, understanding the importance of the community's economic well being to the future of its children, Adonai began to experiment with programs to develop opportunities for Namugoga families. Programs offering livestock to families for their own health and to generate cash have already had an impact on some families. Today, families in the village have some 100 pigs from the original gift from Adonai. The organization itself tends 550 chickens and 13 dairy goats.
In the absence of any other resource, Adonai has become the most important driver of community and economic development in Namugoga.