One casual visit to Buvuma Island convicted Samuel Kyambadde to change the lives of children living in the locality. Seeing numerous school going children at the Islands moving around, playing in dirty water made him question why they weren't in school.
Kyambadde who was then working with Kampala City Authority under the Adolscent Sexual Reproductive Health project visited the Islands in 2005. He then got into engagements with the Youth Leaders in the community who informed him that the children didn't have the necessities to attend school mainly because many had lost parents.
This reminded him of lake Wamala shores where he lived as a child with boys out of school because they had to fend for their families. This influenced his father to mobilise the community to construct a school and a church.
“I saw things happening in a fishing community where change was possible. My parents were the kinds of people under whose hands many people were mentored and provided support. So I grew seeing change happening and witnessing that something small could make a change,”he said.
Starting out with the information he had in mind, Kyambadde used his resources to buy scholastic materials for the children while spreading knowledge about HIV/AIDS in the community and soon extended to Mityana hence creating the Buvuma Islands Community Development Initiative and later Ettendo Rural and Initiatives and Response Outreach (ERIRO).
The acronym ERIRO also formed out of the first letters of his Father and mother’s names Erisa and Rose that were instrumental and also inspired the formation of the Initiative.
“My mother passed on but she was very instrumental and supportive. The way she used to do things at home, the way she welcomed everyone alone indicated that every individual matters. And that became the foundation of what we are doing today. So I tell people out there, sow that seed among your children. It is now that they are nurtured into what they will be as adults because whatever we learn as adults in addition,” said Kyambadde.
ERIRO is a non government organisation that is aimed at improving and supporting vulnerable children with scholastic and other essential needs. The organisation does this through its livelihood program in which it lends a hand to families affected by HIV.
“We want to do away with the dependence syndrome so we ask them what they can do. So we choose projects, we have given people startups. Not all of them will succeed but we have very many success stories which are very fulfilling,” said Kyambadde.
He gave an example of a one Fred Sebabi in Mityana who was given 100 coffee seedlings, 50 banana suckers and a goat. “Today, he has a minimum of 100 goats, 26 cows and has maintained the banana and coffee plantation. He says that he is the happiest man and has even forgotten about his ill health. He has been able to take care of all his children and even acquitted them with skills that most have grown up to leave home and he is comfortable where they are because he knows they aren’t begging,” he explained.
ERIRO gets its funding from partners in Uganda and Canada that it has been using to help improve lives of people and children in Buvuma and Butaleja, extending to other communities with less privileged children and families. It is focused on improving livelihoods, reducing cases of gender based violence, teenage pregnancies and supporting people living with HIV as well as those affected by climate change.
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