In addition to providing counseling and trauma therapy, we help survivors cross the bridge into self-sufficiency through education and practical aftercare programs such as skills training, entrepreneurship, and job placement. Each area of study is designed to equip graduates with the tools and informed choices needed to build their newly empowered futures.
We render services through these inclusive programs:
A diploma is one of the most life-altering and empowering gifts a girl can receive. To help break the cycle of poverty and exploitation, Kwagala Project is committed to placing girls in the best schools available. Covering their school fees and requirements (uniforms, books, supplies, transport, etc.), which is an insurmountable amount for most Ugandans, and providing options for future endeavors increases the odds of their success drastically.
According to the World Bank, the benefits of educating girls and women in the developing world go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. Educated females also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty. These benefits transmit across generations, as well as to their communities at large.
In our secure facility located in Kampala, Uganda, women and children escape their harsh circumstances and begin building their futures by learning to read, write, master viable trades, manage money, and study entrepreneurship.
The school’s goal is to help transition them out of their desperate situations by equipping them with the life skills necessary to secure sustainable employment. Counselors work with each beneficiary to assist in job placement and ongoing support, improving their chance of success.
As the women gain knowledge, experience, and confidence, many begin to save money so they can own and operate their own small businesses once they’ve graduated.
Providing Long-term Aftercare
In 2009, Kwagala Project established its first rehabilitative residence for vulnerable girls in Northern Uganda – Total Impact House.
Located in Gulu, this comprehensive program provides teenage girls with a family-like environment, food, health care, clothing, extensive counseling, formal education and/or technical skills training, and most importantly – acceptance and love.
In just one year, Total Impact House provides 25 girls with 18,000 meals, 5,000 days of school or vocational training, and 9,000 nights of uninterrupted sleep in a safe place. In addition to the group therapy sessions, Impact House also provides approximately 2,000 individual counseling sessions, maintaining Kwagala Project’s objective of providing emotional support for these young women.
The girls come to Impact House with stories beyond most of our imaginations. Families or guardians sold some of them into prostitution during childhood; others were abducted by LRA soldiers and taken as “child brides.” Others were orphaned by disease and war, left to survive on the streets.
Impact House cultivates an environment that provides safety and respite, so they can rebuild their lives within a nurturing environment dedicated to helping each of them achieve their own unlimited potential. Our mission is to provide them with the emotional and practical support to make that possible.
The number of girls in developing countries who are forced into marriages, slave labor, and the commercial sex trade each year is staggering.
In 2007, Kristen Hendricks traveled to East Africa, determined to learn how she could help victims recover from such grim circumstances. Conditions were as bleak as she’d anticipated, but she met someone who gave her hope – she met a young woman, a former trafficking victim, living a prosperous life. Despite what this young woman had been through, she was joyful, grateful and productive.
She represented what was possible.
Seeing this, the inspiration behind the Kwagala Project grew into a fully developed idea. Kwagala Project’s three main objectives became:
- Help women and children who suffer debilitating or abusive circumstances
- Restore their identity and dignity through love, comprehensive counseling and trauma therapy
- Provide them with the life skills and education necessary to actualize their dreams and grow into the people God created them to be
In March 2008, Kristen launched the Kwagala Project in Kampala, Uganda. Immediately, young lives were saved and began to be transformed. Under Kristen’s leadership, the project has witnessed remarkable results. They have established two rehabilitation residences, a vocational school and business training center, numerous micro-businesses, community outreach programs, and a college scholarship fund. Going forward, the project hopes to expand and serve more women and children in the area, and beyond.
Seeing these young women overcome incredible obstacles to become self-sufficient, vibrant leaders is incredibly rewarding for Kristen and the Kwagala team. Even more gratifying is the pay-it-forward attitude these remarkable survivors are adopting. The positive turn in their lives has inspired them to initiate more positive change, proving that hope begets hope and the possibilities truly are endless.
To date, hundreds of women and children have been given an opportunity for healthy, flourishing lives. The hope is for hundreds to someday be thousands.
“I thank God that the desire He placed within me to help these extraordinary girls far outweighed the fear that I couldn’t.” –Kristen Hendricks