In 1909, Sir Winston Churchill spoke these prophetic words describing Uganda:
“The kingdom of Uganda is a fairy-tale. You climb up … and at the end there is a wonderful new world. The scenery is different, the vegetation is different, the climate is different, and, most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa ... I say: ‘Concentrate on Uganda’. For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life - bird, insect, reptile, beast - for vast scale -- Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa.”
Uganda, twice the size of Pennsylvania, is in East Africa. It is bordered on the west by Congo, on the north by the Sudan, on the east by Kenya, and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The country, which lies across the equator, is divided into three main areas—swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Uganda is home to Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile River, generally regarded as the longest river in the world.
English is the official language of Uganda. Luganda, a central language and many other dialects are widely spoken across the country. About 90% of Uganda's people live in rural areas. The country is overwhelmingly agricultural, and farming employs over 80% of the workforce. The annual value of Uganda's imports is usually considerably higher than the value of its exports. The principal exports are coffee (which accounts for the bulk of export revenues), fish and fish products, tea, cotton, and horticultural products.
Ugandans have been fighting over two decades of civil war and many work hard to provide a future for their children. Odds are if you're walking along the red dirt roads in the rural communities of Uganda, you will be greeted by running children and waving hands all eager and welcoming. It is not uncommon to see livestock walking along your pathway and women sitting outside their modest clay homes cooking and sewing.
Emerging from the devastation of the Lord's Resistance Army and civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, Uganda has made significant steps in economic and social development, yet still faces major challenges. Ugandan families and communities struggle to access healthcare, education and other basic services and young children often suffer disproportionately.
Over 50% of Uganda's population is under the age of 15, making it one of the youngest countries in the world. Girls constitute the largest proportion of out-of-school children and only 1/3 of girls who enroll in primary education go on to complete secondary education.
Uganda is home to roughly 33 million people and there are an estimated 2.5 million orphans, many due to HIV/AIDS. The Ugandan government continuously struggles to provide adequate care and education for the orphaned and disadvantaged children of Uganda. Community-based projects and initiates are vital to care for the well-being of some of the world's most vulnerable children.