Although I have travelled a lot on my own over the years, I must admit my first visit to Africa felt a little daunting.

I was meeting Paul Quincey in Addis Ababa airport, as he was visiting Ethiopia first. I made a quick decision not to read any reviews of the airport and just enjoy the adventure. More importantly, I wondered where I was going to be able to watch the World Cup final if England got through, as this was the day I flew. As it happened I had nothing to worry about, the journey and airport were good and England went out in the semi-finals, so no worries there!

Flying over Lake Victoria, we landed in the evening at Entebbe airport. The journey from here to Kampala was a crazy cacophony of noise and vehicles. There were bikes, little taxis crammed with as many people as possible, and more shops and stalls than you can imagine. I’ve never seen so many mannequins along the side of the road in my life! I saw motorbikes carrying what looked like the contents of someone’s home on the back, another carrying a car bonnet, and more with so many people and children. How did they all fit on?

The reason for my visit was to follow up on the government’s recent initiative in Uganda to resettle children living in Children’s Homes with surviving relatives or extended family*. As my day job for many years has been in social work and managing a team who assess and support kinship carers, it was the perfect opportunity to be able to share some of my knowledge. Also, and more importantly, to ensure that any decisions made about the children entrusted into the care of Komamboga Children’s Home were made in the children’s best interests.

It was fascinating to see how similar Ugandan and UK law are concerning children. The immediate challenge however, seems to be the lack of training available to staff and the practicalities and follow up on the ground.

We had a busy week at Komamboga, meeting social workers from other organisations and going on field trips with the Director, Tom, and Social Worker, Shivan to see some options for the Komamboga children. For me, as a Social Worker, it was great to be able to share different ways of working and new tools for helping with the placement of children.

The week passed far too quickly and it was time to say our goodbyes but I believe we achieved a lot of things in the short time that we had.

*Recently the Ugandan government revised its care policy because of serious failings by some institutions. Their policy is to place all children in need of care with families. CPA is working with Tom and Shivan to find suitable families for all the Komamboga children. This will take time and CPA will continue to support the Home to provide a safe environment until every child is happily settled and has completed their education.

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