“The Chinese Embassy should support the children with education because I am looking at, if the children are not educated, they will join the kids at Kamdini Centre here who sell roasted chicken by the roadside and you can imagine a Chinese hawking roasted chicken to bus travelers along the road….what an ugly thing it will be”. By Joseph Elunya, first published in The Centre for Investigative Journalism in Uganda (CIJU).
Traditional chiefs in Uganda are appealing for help from the Chinese Embassy in tracing the Chinese construction workers who have left behind children they fathered with local women.
The Chinese who were working at the Karuma Hydropower Project fathered children with Ugandan women who were working as casual labourers at the hydroelectric power project, but these men have since left the country upon the expiry of their contracts.
The women, who are more than twenty in number, claim that their relationships with the Chinese lovers began from Karuma Power project where they worked as casual labourers for Sino Hydro Corporation, the company contracted by the government of Uganda to construct the power plant.
Cathy Akello is one of the women who are crying out to the Chinese Embassy in Uganda to come to their rescue by reuniting them with their spouses who have since returned back home to China.
Bosco Ogwang, a clan leader in Kamdini Sub-county, Oyam district, who is a biological brother to Akello, explains that his sister was impregnated five years ago by a Chinese national working with Karuma Sino Hydo power project.
“When she came back home from Karuma I saw the colour of the child and I was forced to ask who the father is and to my surprise, she said that the kid was fathered by a Chinese national working at the power project”, said Ogwang.
Ogwang said he went twice to the site where they are constructing the Karuma power dam but was shocked to be told that the Chinese who fathered the child had returned back to China after his contract expired.
“Someone advised me that I go to the Chinese Embassy in Kampala but I am hesitant to go there because I fear I may not get appropriate help”. Ogwang said he is taking care of the mother and the toddler but is finding it difficult on feeding as the child is not used to eating local foods.
“The child is with us speaking our local language (lango) 100% we also gave him a local name Olara, the name that our clan members give to something which was rescued from something bad so we call him Olara because he’s fatherless”.
Ogwang appeals to the Chinese Embassy in Uganda to support the children fathered by Chinese construction workers with education and healthcare.
“The Chinese Embassy should support the children with education because I am looking at, if the children are not educated, they will join the kids at Kamdini Centre here who sell roasted chicken by the roadside and you can imagine a Chinese hawking roasted chicken to bus travelers along the road….what an ugly thing it will be”.
Ogwang said he is struggling to educate the kid in pre-primary school but he’s not sure he will be able to pay his fees when he gets to secondary level.
The leader of Mwa Otiiratok Clan, Chief Alunyo said they have resolved as a clan to petition the Chinese Embassy in Kampala to help more than ten of his subjects who were impregnated and abandoned by the Chinese while working as casual labourers at the power dam.
“We resolved as a clan to go to the Chinese Embassy so that they take charge of the welfare of the children fathered by their citizens” said Alunyo.
Sino Hydro Corporation however says the issue is a private matter that should be sorted by the two ‘consenting adults’.
Jackson Oboth, the Spokesperson of Sino Hydro Corporation, says the company is not responsible for the welfare of the women and their children.
“The explanation has been given for a long time, those women keep coming up with problems, I would really suggest that we find a way of meeting those women face to face because some of those men were on 3-4 months contract and they left. It becomes very difficult for management to know which man produced which child as they are personal things”, said Oboth.
Oboth explains that the management of Sino Hydro Corporation is not responsible because the women allegedly met the men from the camp where they were residing after work.
The Chairman of the Uganda-China Association, Alex Kakooza, however says the women should approach the Chinese Embassy in Kampala to help them in tracing the Chinese nationals whom they claim to have fathered children with them.
“It’s very easy to trace the Chinese as all their details are with the Embassy……advise them to contact the Embassy for help”, said Kakooza.
Efforts to seek comment from the Chinese Embassy in Uganda have been futile as several phone calls and emails went unanswered.