I am a trained UK social worker with experience in frontline child protection, youth offending, youth homelessness, children in care, and children at risk of child sexual exploitation.
I have also had extensive experience with NGOs and Christian ministries internationally, and has served both short and longer-term with ministries in Hong Kong, Mongolia, Mainland China and Uganda. My main areas of expertise include street children, child crime, child protection, asylum seekers and HIV.
Through Biojemmss, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) I set up in 2009 I am dedicated to furthering the rights of children in Africa, particuSiânlarly taking a stand against corruption and abuse in children’s institutions.
In my spare time, I enjoy listening to and making music. I love travelling and learning new languages.
Originally from Wales and a daughter of CMS missionaries, I travelled to Uganda to visit a children’s home run by a family friend in 2005. I fell in love with the country, the people, and experienced a strong sense of calling over my life. Sadly, I came to learn that abuse was taking place at the home and people who were aware of itSiân were either powerless or unwilling to take action. I had bonded with the young people living there, many of whom were around my age, and wanted to take them somewhere safe.
I found another home that appeared safer and more suitable, but this did not offer the long-term solution anticipated. I prayed about what I should do, and felt called to start a new home run on Christian values and precepts, and Biojemmss was born.
We found a property to rent in Rukungiri and the children settled there, with access to food, clothing, education and everything they needed to grow into Siânbalanced and successful adults. Many were orphans or had been rejected by their families, and each has a disturbing tale to tell about their life before coming to Biojemmss. All the children, young people and now young adults have committed their lives to God and are thriving under our care. We have since taken on other children and young people, as well as expanded our work with initiatives focused on preventing children becoming “at-risk”. Siân
We currently have two residential homes: one in Rukungiri for younger children and one in Kampala for young people who are working or attending university.
Our wider mission is to change the culture of childcare and understanding in Uganda, and to stop the cycle of children at risk by dealing with the root causes.
There are various reasons why Ugandan children end up in situations of risk. One of the main contributing factors is poverty, which limits the options for families and makes them vulnerable to different forms of exploitation, including child labour and trafficking. Child abandonment and children being orphaned through HIV and other diseases is also common due to the poor standard of health care and education. As in other countries, children are also at risk from domestic violence, familial abuse and family breakdown.
We have therefore started more community-focused projects inclSiânuding prison ministries, hospital ministries and annual children’s camps hosting up to 600 children.
We are also planning to open a new community complex in Entebbe in the near future. While we will provide short-term residential care there, our mainSiân focus will be on child protection, prevention of exploitation and rehabilitation, where possible. The ‘village’ will be well-resourced, encouraging families to come together and to educate parents about the value of children and how to protect them from risk.
Ultimately, our vision is by working with like-minded ministries that the children of Uganda will be safer and more valued as a result of our work.
Some of our main challenges:
Poor national enforcement and understanding of laws relating to children. The authorities and officials often provide confused and conflicting information regarding our responsibilities, legal duties and paperwork.
Staffing. Difficulty in recruiting reliable, trustworthy and qualified staff.
Significant inflation. In the past few years, school fees and food costs have more than doubled.
High national youth unemployment. This creates difficulties for the organisation in transitioning its young people to independence, meaning that many have resided with us for longer periods than expected, faced financial hardship and required ad hoc support on an ongoing basis.
National economic instability. This has created challenges for our self-sufficiency projects.