Tooro Dairy Cooperative Society Limited has donated 420 litres of pasteurised milk to the four homes caring for vulnerable children in Kabarole district.
The cooperative’s support was part of its relief efforts towards the vulnerable during the current Covid-19 related lockdown.
Kabarole hosts four homes for vulnerable children, including the only remand home in western Uganda.
The homes which received relief were Tooro babies home which cares for abandoned children, Fort Portal remand home which cares for the juveniles on remand, Maana rescue home which cares for children living with HIV/AIDS and SOS children’s village which looks after orphans.
The Board Chairman, Tooro Dairy Cooperative Society, Edward Basaliza said that each home received 100 litres of milk except for Fort Portal remand home which received 120 litres because it has many children.
Basaliza said the cooperative chose to donate milk due to its nutritive value for children.
“In this period of Covid-19, everyone has been affected- especially the vulnerable children. These children need a lot while growing up, and they need to be fed very well because their immunity is always very weak,” he said.
He added that, the outreach was one way for the cooperative to “give back to the community” during the pandemic. Robert Bahenyangyi, the Director SOS children’s village Fort Portal, said the village, which looks after 60 orphans, is facing many challenges during the lockdown, especially since donations have dwindled.
“Feeding these children especially during this period is not easy. Donations like these give us some breathing space because everything is now at a standstill,” Bahenyangyi said.
Fort portal remand home, the only one of its kind in Uganda’s western region, is overwhelmed by the number of children now at the shelter, a problem they attribute to the closure of courts as a measure to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
The remand home’s assistant Probation Welfare Officer, Resty Basemera, said it has a capacity of 45 children, but the number has shot up to 103 children currently, and they cannot discharge any of them at the moment.
As such, the home is struggling to feed the children and often relies on community donations in addition to government support.
“We have been depending on the community to feed these children, but many have stopped coming because of Covid-19. We therefore thank Tooro dairy cooperative for the support rendered to us,” Basemera said.
The situation is not any different at Tooro Babies home, whose focus is on providing for abandoned children.
Kemigisa Betty the Matron at Tooro babies home said the home has 50 children. Of these, 15 take powdered milk and all use pampers which are expensive.
They are also struggling to make ends meet after community members, on whom they depend, stopped coming after the lock down began.
Maana Rescue home one of those that received milk from Tooro dairy cooperative cares for 30 children living with HIV/AIDS.
According Richard Rwabuhinga, the Kabarole district Chairperson, government focused much on providing relief to hand-to-mouth earners, but the district is awaiting direction on how to handle emerging cases such as those of children’s homes.
Last week, the Bishop of Fort Portal diocese, Robert Muhirwa, also donated food and non-food relief items to Tooro babies and Fort Portal remand homes including pampers, eggs and bananas and called upon all community members to think of these vulnerable children.