Richard is a playful, inquisitive six year old who lives in a makeshift orphanage for children and young adults with special needs in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Although he was born with one, shortened arm and a partial hand, Richard is extremely dexterous and very independent. He can use a knife and fork, he likes to draw and he can string beads, using his feet and toes in place of hands and fingers.

The children and young adults who live in the institution range in age from 4 to 22. They have a wide range of special needs including physical disabilities, learning difficulties and developmental conditions such as autism. The building is dark and dilapidated. Richard shares a cramped dormitory with all the other younger children. He is desperate for attention and for something to do but there are very few toys or books there, let alone the kind of specialist resources that would allow Richard to develop to his full potential. Richard is sociable and very keen to communicate but his speech has been delayed because he spends all his time with children and young adults with learning disabilities who cannot speak and this is delaying his own development. Richard is growing up in silence.

Like most of the other children and young adults who live in the orphanage, Richard is not an orphan. He has a family but poverty means they cannot care for him without support. His mother visits him when she can but it takes a day for her to reach the city and she has other children to care for. Hope and Homes for Children believes that all children, whatever their needs, should grow up with the love and protection of a family.

Our work in Rwanda and Uganda shows that it’s possible to close orphanages by finding safe, loving family based care for children. We will do all we can to reunite Richard with his parents and give them the training and support they need to care for him so that he can grow up alongside his brothers and sisters, learning and developing as part of a family.


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