Face painting is always a hit with the kids! Sometimes they want volunteers and aunties to do the decorating and sometimes they want to decorate themselves!
It is impossible to speak of Malayaka House without speaking about the Aunties’ contribution and sacrifice to our cause. Their love and care brought our babies back from death’s door to complete recovery, and we owe them everything. Our Aunties are seven very special women who are the nurses, teachers, chefs, housekeepers, guardians, friends, role models and mothers to our children. They adore each and every child as if they were their own, something priceless to a child who has no other family to speak of.
As every mother knows, raising children is a tiresome and often selfless act, let alone in an environment established for recovering and rehabilitating sick and broken kids. The Aunties have the responsibility of bringing the kids back, both physically and mentally, and there is only one way of doing this, which is through love and compassion. Our team of “All-Star Aunties” has perfected the art. They have crafted a family that revolves around equality, friendship, and respect.
It is hard to imagine that one Auntie can put 20 children to sleep, in the same room, and succeed. The Aunties do this every day with a skill and expertise that has become renowned. When the Aunties go about their work they do not struggle or stress, even if a kid is flipping out and chaos is everywhere. The Aunties are calm, collected, and in full control. This makes it comfortable and less intimidating for our many wonderful volunteers to get
involved because not only are they caring for the children, young and old, they are also meeting the needs of our steady flow of guests and visitors.
Caring for the little ones is easy compared to managing our 15 teenage girls, but the Aunties have found their way with them as well, and they have done so by building strong relationships. Every child in the house depends on the Aunties to guide and counsel them through their problems. They are consistent, light-hearted, and peaceful, the ingredients that allow everyone to participate on their own accord. If an Auntie asks someone to do something, the task is accomplished whole heartedly and immediately. The kids work alongside the Aunties every chance they get, and because they are appreciated for their contributions, and efforts they always come back to help out the next time around.
Each of our Aunties was found in our local village of Lunyo, within walking distance of our home. Like many Ugandan women, they were all in desperate states, most with children of their own but unable to find work to support their family. They tried to depend on men to support them, but often that situation was not in their best interest, to say the least.
The Aunties create their own rotating schedule, with two staying with the children at night. They manage this among themselves and work together to adjust it as needed. Their independence extends to their lives outside of Malayaka House, to include bank accounts, identification, and healthcare… benefits the majority of Ugandan women do not have access to. We pay them a competitive wage because they earn it, and then some. We wish we could pay them more. They are each the highest wage-earners of their households and are now able to support themselves, their children, and their extended families.
We hold our Aunties in the absolute highest regard. It is because of them that our children are thriving.
The vision of making and supplying mozzarella cheese to restaurants and hotels stems from the relatively high demand for pizza in Entebbe, and the difficulty businesses face trying to acquire high quality cheese. A friend and Italian restaurant owner taught our girls the fine art of making delicious mozzarella cheese, and we have built a special mozzarella cheese house for smooth, clean, and efficient operations. It has a sink, counter, deep freezer, storage shelves, and a large industrial gas cooker…everything required for a well-positioned enterprise.
A cheese business aligns well with our intention of one day serving organic pizzas to the community supplied by fresh milk and organic vegetables from our own farm.
Currently, we have four customers and distribute roughly 12 kilograms of mozzarella per week. Our objective is to cover expenses, provide two jobs, turn a profit, and to eventually establish the first pizza delivery and catering operation in Entebbe.
We decided to create an opportunity for our older girls to develop their baking skills while lessening our dependence on increasingly expensive cooking gas by building a fuel-efficient wood-fired brick oven at Malayaka House. Construction was complete in April of 2011, along with a proper kitchen around it to keep the area clean, safe, controlled, and dedicated to our business activities.
Jacinta, one of our home’s oldest children, is training a team of bakers as we develop a prosperous income-generating activity that feeds the healthy market in Entebbe for good bread, high quality cakes, and pizza.
We have expanded our baking activities to complement our guest house, steady flow of volunteers, and friends in the community. Two evenings per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we host Malayaka House Pizza Night. The menu consists of a build-your-own pizza, a loaf of bread to take home, dessert, and fresh juice. A team of hosts and waitresses works alongside the bakers to welcome guests, take orders, and provide first-class service to our customers.
Our pizza nights began in February 2012 and have become a popular social event in Entebbe. The United Nations employees and Swift Air flight attendants and pilots have provided a solid base of support and consider Malayaka House pizza “the best pizza in town”. Our next step is developing a delivery program targeting these satisfied customers and expanding our market.
Pizza Night has grown into a wonderful business and training program for Malayaka House and the older teens. It all started with one pizza making lesson, a bit of curiosity and a seed planted that all kids at Malayaka House can do anything if they put their minds to it, and a bit of sweat, love and dedication! Here is where it all started…see what it’s become here.
The orphanage community is exhausted and overwhelmed with the growing number of children in dire straits. Malayaka House has observed the addition of 6 new orphanage homes to our community just in the past 3 years, which are all full to capacity. There is still no space for newly rescued children. The question remains…what happens to the children who don’t make it into a home?
This question is our motivation to reach out to every home in our area and offer assistance however we can. Some are better equipped than others, but all are trying to help these threatened children.
In theory, everyone knows that we are stronger together, and this is what we strive to accomplish with our community in Uganda. One shining example of this is the close relationship Malayaka House has built with a new and very special babies’ home. We share resources and knowledge with them, and care for each other’s children like they are our own. The kids are very best friends with one another, sharing birthday parties and sleepovers. With support and continued diligence, we hope to build more relationships such as this with our other sister homes, so that less children are left to the streets.
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Pictures really do say 1,000 words. Especially when they are through the eyes of a Malayaka House volunteer. In October, Martin Neuhof spent 2 weeks at the house photographing all the happenings. Here are his photos from Pizza Night, a vocational training program run through Malayaka House to allow hands-on work experience for the teenagers at the House.
This is the magic of our volunteers. Each of us, just like each of the teens in the vocational training programs, have special skills, gifts and resources to share. By encouraging people to come as they are, and typically leave forever changed by their time at the House, volunteers can share their strengths, whatever they may be. For some it’s teaching, for others it’s sport, for some, like Martin, it is photography and art. For others far away, it’s organising a fundraiser or movie screening. The list of how volunteers positively impact the daily lives and long-term goals of the kids, Aunties & Uncles, and other volunteers is immense and ever growing–just like Malayaka House!
Enjoy the pictures! Be inspired! Make your own difference to Malayaka House today, through a donation or by getting in touch for more information on how you can help from home. Even better, make your future brighter by planning your volunteer trip to Malayaka House, because it really does take a village to raise these amazing kids.