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At-risk children in Katwe receive street art skills

More street art has been put up in Katwe. COURTESY PHOTOS

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 46 at-risk children from the Katwe area have completed the first phase of the kARTwe Street Art Project. This is an initiative of Feed A Million Mouths International (FAMMI) to provide opportunities for children in the area to receive nutritious meals while learning valuable art and life skills.

The kARTwe project – launched on 14th May 2022 – has helped provide an environment for children in the area to find solace away from less-than-ideal home situations. They are exposed to hunger, violence, sexual assault, crime, and drug and substance use. These are some of the factors that contribute to many children living on the streets to escape these conditions. On the streets, they earn a living from begging, performing odd jobs or resorting to crime.

While speaking during the closing ceremony at Katwe Central Primary School, Milly Bayiyana, the General Manager of FAMMI, said, “We believe that the quality of nutrition a child receives can have a permanent effect on their cognitive and physical development, and in turn determine the quality of life they will live. Through initiatives like the KARTwe Street Art Project, we are providing nutritious meals to the children of Katwe while harnessing their creativity.”

 Bayiyana (top) and William Nkemba addressed guests during the closing ceremony

In June this year, KCCA launched the Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022 to protect children from forms of abuse like child labour and trafficking and criminalises children loitering in public places, begging or soliciting, vending or hawking.

Eng. William Nkemba, the co-founder of Dwelling Places – an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation and resettlement of street children in Uganda – said, “The factors driving street children away from their homes and to the streets need addressing if we are to attempt to reduce the number of children resorting to a life of begging and crime. I appreciate FAMMI for this effort, especially in one of the most poverty and crime-stricken areas of Kampala.”

KCCA has since undertaken operations to forcibly remove children from the streets and according to the authority’s spokesperson , by September 2022, 782 children had been removed from the streets, with most being taken to rehabilitation centres, while others were reunited with their families.

Following the ceremony, FAMMI and the children will launch four new street art murals in different locations around Katwe. These were created in collaboration with four prominent Kampala-based artists, namely Gam Massa, Willy Okecha, Rojaz Ssebakijje and Oscar Okecha.

Some of the participants show off their art, and below, guests have a look

Katwe was once a thriving informal settlement for primarily artisans and entrepreneurs but has since become an incubation chamber for crime, disease, and poverty.

The organisation has also launched the second phase of the project, which will see members of the general community contribute street art in parts of their environment.

According to Bayiyana, the project has helped identify creative talent in the community. Through the murals, the kARTwe Project will create a more colourful and cleaner environment in some parts of Katwe.

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