Nearly 300 Somali refugee children are being cared for in the Ugandan capital Kampala at an orphanage established decades ago by Muslim families, a rarity in the East African country.
Established in 1974, the Kabowa Hidayat Primary School and Orphanage is a home and educational institution for 700 children, nearly 300 of whom are from Somalia.
Christian and church-affiliated groups are known to run the most well-organized orphanages in the country, with those managed by the Muslim community and mosques generally thought to be inadequate and neglected.
Despite the fact that Somalia shares no borders with Uganda, a large number of Somali children came to the country as domestic workers. They are not all orphans, but they have no parents in Uganda.
Though their stories on how they ended up in the orphanage differ, their experiences before leaving their home country have left them with deep and hard-to-erase mental scars.
According to UNICEF, there are 900,000 refugee children in Uganda. In addition to being refugees, children in this country struggle to cope with the trauma of forced displacement, separation from loved ones, and physical and sexual violence./aa