Our first few days in Uganda have been spent in Kampala, where our partner, Sports Outreach Institute (SOI), works extensively throughout the city’s 5 slums. At first blush, their work in the slums seems unrelated to combating exploitation and trafficking. But as I've observed these last three days, they truly work on the front lines of our struggle. While there is no single "profile" of a potential trafficking victim, there are some commonly observed risk-factors such as poverty, lack of access to adequate health care, low education, and instability at home. As I reflect on the work I've both heard and observed in Kampala, it is quite clear that SOI addresses and counteracts each of the trafficking risk factors listed above.
SOI's work is about letting the love of Christ transform lives; it's about meeting the needs of the communities they work in through the avenues of sports, teaching, feeding, training, and public health. Faithful to its mission, SOI staff and volunteers dig deep and give much to see the lives of those they serve enriched and made better. Because of its holistic approach to outreach and ministry, all of SOI's work--especially their outreach to street kids and orphans--reduces risk factors for populations vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
While the primary purpose of the #F424Uganda team on this trip is to see the work we started and continue to fund at Christine's House, a rescue home for exploited girls, it's amazing to see how SOI's work in Kampala dovetails perfectly with our anti-exploitation and trafficking efforts in Gulu by aggressively and actively reducing trafficking risk factors for some of Uganda's most vulnerable populations.
Seeing the beautiful faces of children who have a home, a full belly, and eternal security who would otherwise be facing a bleak and tragic life if not for the preventative work of SOI gives me hope.
Tomorrow we begin our 6+ hour journey by bus to Gulu in Northern Uganda. There we will spend time at Christine's House, meeting and working with the girls whose lives are being transformed, providing trauma counseling training for the staff who interact daily with the girls, and meeting with the local community leaders who provide oversight and guidance for the home on the local level.
-Tim Spaulding, President