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Marsali Campbell serves at Dwelling Places, a Christian NGO in Uganda. Begun as a calling from God to Rita Nkemba in 1996, Dwelling Places seeks to love and rescue children from the streets, based on the ‘job description’ of Isaiah 58. Marsali began working there in 2011 as a paediatric nurse. Here she explains more about the ministry:
Rescue and rehabilitation
Our ministry has developed to become a multi-disciplinary team approach. We describe this as our ‘4R’ ministry.
A rescue team that goes out onto the streets during the day and night, to meet with the children and develop relationships, our ‘pavement counselling’.
Dan was 12 years old when Marsali met him in 2001. He is now 26, married for two years to Josephine, with a one year old daughter called Marsali! Dwelling Places supported him as he left a life on the streets, he shares his story here:
My dad died when I was three, and growing up with my mum was not easy; I wasn’t loved or cared for. When I met Aunty Marsali, she became my friend and taught me how to read the Bible, and that is when I found 1 Corinthians 13:13. Little by little I began to love and forgive my mum, and show her mercy. Her life had also been very hard, as my dad had many wives but was very poor; plus she has HIV and had been very sick. Aunty Marsali has been helping her with going to clinics and taking medicines. Now I am grown up, a Christian, a husband and a father to my own daughter, I am also showing mercy by fostering four young boys from Dwelling Places. Aunty Marsali also showed me mercy by sponsoring me through school. Everyone else had told me I was stupid and could never read or write, or speak English – I know that all my gifts come from God, but God needs people to work through, to show his mercy to children.
A rehabilitation programme where children are resident at Dwelling Places. Here we offer a holistic approach as the children learn how to live in a place of safety, sleep at night, bathe, brush their teeth and wear clothes. We even teach the children how to eat and drink properly, not just to deal with their malnourishment but to change their mindset from scavenging in dustbins to survive. We have an interim school that has been developed specifically to teach children how to sit in class, listen to authority and introduce routine and discipline in their daily lives. The school also gives the children a chance to ‘catch-up’ on education. Many of our children are very bright but have never had the opportunity to go to school. Our health team cares for them, dealing with everything from skin diseases like scabies, fungal infections, wounds/injuries, intestinal worms, eye and dental assessments, coughs, malaria and so much more! We have a counselling team and social workers who work closely with each child to hear their individual stories and discover why they’ve ended up on the streets.
Reconciliation and resettlement
Finally we have reconciliation and resettlement. Once we have discovered the family history of each child we endeavour to work towards reconciliation between the child and any family members, and eventually for the child to be resettled back into a safe home environment with family. For those without family, or when reconciliation and resettlement does not work out, we work towards foster care and adoption.
As we advocate, both locally and internationally, for children at risk, we also pioneer in challenging areas like Karamoja, northeastern Uganda, where the majority of Ugandan street children are from. Here, we are striving towards prevention through community awareness, education and healthcare with the hope of reducing the number of children who need Dwelling Places’ help.