This project offers vocational training and skills to children with disabilities.

The management from Smiling Hearts with some of the benificiaries and the Uganda Marathon Team

Discrimination and lack of care for people with disabilities in Uganda is at a heartbreaking level. Unfortunately, due to a severe lack of knowledge or awareness about disability conditions, those people with disabilities are very often discriminated against and not given opportunities to succeed at all.

Smiling Hearts was founded in 2016, born out of the director, Helen’s, personal passion for supporting the disabled community. For three years Helen moved between three disability schools in the Masaka district teaching vocational classes in art. Through training and some lucky connections, Helen’s disabled students were able to produce crafts that went on to be sold in Australia, which created a level of sustainability for Helen’s project.

Having seen how great the need is for self-sufficiency among children with disabilities, particularly those that were graduating from schools as they are at risk of child marriage or just not being able to care for themselves, Helen began Smiling Hearts, by establishing a training centre for her students. It is run free of charge with the sustainability coming, in part, from sales of the items produced. Students who have proven their skills in a particular trade, whether that be sewing, tailoring or art, which are all taught either at the centre or from one of the numerous apprenticeships that Smiling Hearts have designed with businesses in Masaka Town, are provided with start-up kits to enable them to grow their own small business.

Smiling Hearts believes that every child can learn skills but the safe centre suports children with many different types of disability and learning challenges. They recognise that it is a long road for many of their children in their care. For the most vulnerable of the children, the centre has offered a safe learninng boarding environment to 11 children.

With the support of the 2020 Uganda Marathon runners, they are keen to grow.

2020 Goals for Smiling Hearts

  1. To provide vocational skills for 40 more disabled individuals through the centre by the end of 2020
  2. To provide income for the project to sustainably support the basic care for 11 disabled boarding students by end of 2021

How your fundraising will help us achieve the goals

 One of the students showing us some of the artwork that the children produce.

The Smiling Hearts Centre has a growing reputation for producing high quality school uniforms, bags and sweaters. But they don’t have the tools to enable theem to deliver on customer’s needs.

With your support, they want to grow their vocational classes by adding knitting machines, sewing machines and classroom equipment. If we hit our target and raise enough then their goal is to also provide a vehicle that will allow Smiling Hearts to transport all of the 40 children, for 3 days a week, who stay with their families because they are unable to travel to the centre to learn the skills. 

Your Legacy Day During the Uganda Marathon Week

During the legacy day, you’ll be getting to know some of the disabled boys and girls at Smiling Hearts. They’ll teach you how to balance a manual sewing machine and together you’ll make some of the basic items that the organisation sells.

Later on, you’ll learn some sign language during a class given to the deaf pupils, and some of them will give you each a sign name.

You’ll leave the day having got to know the disabled boys and girls and with an understanding of the daily programs.

Legacy day activities are subject to change at any time, this is not a final plan.