Children Belong in Families, not Institutions

Children Belong in Families, not Institutions

Alliance for a Uganda Without Orphans – A Transforming Story

Daniel Kaggwa


As the Church prepares for the imminent return of Christ, the Holy Spirit is convicting men and women to practise true religion by caring for orphans and widows. In Uganda the church has been at the forefront of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) care but with critical gaps. AUWO is a growing movement of evangelical churches and child-care NGOs that is helping administer a paradigm shift to address these critical gaps in the existing care system among churches.

The first paradigm shift is from institutionalised care to family-based orphan care. Hundreds of churches had responded to the problem by setting up orphanages but thanks be to God, through teaching them our Heavenly Father’s heart of “placing the orphan in families” change is coming. In one of our recent sensitisational trainings in Lwengo district a pastor confessed “I had always thought God was happy for us to gather kids in an orphanage and help them but now I see He is grieving because we have not fully embraced His heart for the fatherless.” This confession came after our initial 3 hour presentation on The Heavenly Father’s Redemptive Doctrine of Adoption of the lost as a sure way for the church to discover his heart for the OVC.

A lady in Busia testified during our seminar for about 120 leaders that whenever she welcomed an orphan into her home and treated him or her as a son or daughter, that child overcame poor behavioural challenges faster than the kids at the orphanage she used to visit to conduct discipleship. “Welcoming a child into my home and opening my heart to fully love that child as a son or daughter really brought hope and we developed a good heart connection after this child knew I was up for changing his status forever. A girl I have raised for 4 years now said to me that she loved working with me at home because she felt this was home too for her and that I was like her real mother.

Through the Orphan Sunday Initiative over 2000 churches have been sensitised to take a bold step of faith and practise true religion by caring for orphans in families. Through a weekly radio program, different church leaders from AUWO are promoting this biblical model which the country also formulated several years back into a policy called the Alternative Care Framework.

2017 has been declared as a year for families and we are praying for God to use our young network to empower churches in 16 districts to build strong families. We desire to awaken gate-keepers to defend this very important institution to prevent family break-ups which are responsible for the creation of more orphans. What is hindering the church in Uganda from addressing the orphan problem sustainably? There are many reasons but we believe two critical ones are:

  • Church leaders are responding with passion but still in ignorance and a lack understanding of the Father’s heart.
  • We also have witnessed a lack of unity in the body of Christ, hence a need for collaborative efforts for Churches to work together with NGOs and government to sensitise communities and engage families for identification of local problems affecting OVC and arriving at appropriate solutions that fully reflect the Father’s heart.

As leader of AUWO I think that the church ought to repent of her old ways and arise with courage to work in unity to receive training so as to adopt best practices that demonstrate the Father’s heart. I speak from my own experience as a senior pastor for The Sign of the Dove Church: we have served children for a decade but now have a 5 year testimony of God transforming our ministry from running an orphanage with 40 plus kids to raising sons and daughters in families through kinship care, fostering and adoption. You are welcome to pray and partner with us this 2017 in implementing a 16 districts’ sensitisation and training programme to equip “Gate-keeper” churches that build strong families and establish collaborative networks in communities for churches, NGOs and local government probation officers to demonstrate the Father’s heart for Uganda and Africa’s orphans.

Pastor Daniel Kaggwa is a Pastor in Kampala