In 2010 Tom Bagoole saw that at least 30 girls attending the school were in need of protection from the possibilities of early forced marriage, abusive guardians, child labour and extreme poverty.
He rented a small brick building opposite the school and promoted one of the staff, Betty, to stay with vulnerable girls and supervise them. We met with the girls and had a chance to hear some of their stories. They were all pleased to be in a place of safety, but they were living in very difficult conditions in 2 small rooms. The girls had no bedding other than blankets on the floor and slept huddled together in “spoon fashion”. There was nowhere to put their meagre possessions, 2 plastic bowls for washing, little or no soap and, of course, no light. Nevertheless, they thought themselves fortunate.
UKHF immediately went out to secure basic supplies. We bought mattresses, boxes for personal items, sanitary wear and toiletries along with some paraffin lights.
When Tom moved the school to the new site in 2012, he was able to accommodate the girls into the old brick classrooms and provide bunk beds. UKHF supplied mosquito nets and Kerosene lamps. The girls gained extra tuition to keep them occupied after school.
UKHF also pays the rent for the Safe house.
The girls are doing so well that there is a demand for a Safe House for the boys! Indeed, the majority of children getting top marks in their exams and sponsored to go to Secondary School are girls from the Safe House.
In 2013 Tom was able to move the girls into a much brighter rented brick building adjacent to the new school and next to the lodgings of three teachers. Thus security is much improved but, above all, the installation of solar lighting in February 2014 has made a great difference.
UKHF are continuing to pay the rent for this building but it is a long-term plan to build our own Safe House on site. The issue of protection from mosquitoes remains problematic.