|Saturday, 10th September, 2011||
By Jackie Nambogga
BRONWYN Fielding is an Austrian woman with a big heart. She has been mobilising money from her church, friends and the Austrian community to look after HIV/AIDS orphans in Uganda.
But last month, after one year and about sh500m later, she flew into the country to find a different story. All the money had been swindled.
Christopher Kalema, 31, convinced Bronwyn that he was using the money to run Buwaiswa Orphanage Children’s Home Ministries in Kamuli district.
In his reports, he claimed he was supporting 1,200 orphans, with a sh102m clinic to cater for their health. When Bronwyn arrived unannounced, she was shocked to find the clinic did not exist and the number of orphans under Kalema’s care was only 120.
The facilities at the centre were also in a poor state and unsuitable for accommodation of children.
She reported the matter to the Police and Kalema was arrested.
The Police said the matter is being investigated and Kalema would be charged with obtaining money by false pretence, defrauding organisations and individuals in America, Canada and Austria, child trafficking and operating an orphanage illegally.
The regional CID chief, John Baptist Bulega, says the investigations have delayed because his team was still waiting for additional documents before they could submit the final findings to the State attorney to prefer charges against the suspect.
“There are some reports we are waiting for, which have delayed the conclusion of the probe,” he said on Thursday. He, however, declined to give more details because he was attending a meeting at the Police headquarters.
“I did not have the money,” she told Saturday Vision, “I immediately went on Ema Christian radio and shared the tragedy with listeners. About $7,500 (sh21.8m) was raised to purchase the solar unit.”
Later, when Kalema went to Austria, Bronwyn introduced him to local and Christian radio stations where he recounted the fire incident. He told the listeners that he needed $1,000 (sh2.8m) on a monthly basis to manage the orphanage.
Fielding said: “We would send between sh1.7m to sh2.7 to Kalema on a weekly basis, depending on the contributions from well-wishers.
She decided to travel to Uganda in April this year on a fact finding mission and was surprised to discover that the projects and activities did not exist. “When I consulted my partners, they told me to file a case against Kalema,” said Fielding.
How they met
Fieldinh said they eventually met in Austria in March 2010, where he discussed an orphanage proposal. She got him sponsors. She said Kalema would send occasional reports to her about the project status.
A few days later, as they were struggling to raise the money, someone using the name of Barbara Munyaruguru and claiming to be Kalema’s wife, wrote to say Kalema had been detained at Jinja Central Police and subsequently remanded to Kirinya Prison over the debts.
The following week, Munyaruguru sent another e-mail saying Kalema had been sodomised in prison.
She reportedly said he could not walk and had been admitted to Kampala International Hospital where three major operations were recommended at a cost of sh13m.
In the meantime, Fielding was intensifying her fundraising on radio and international friends whom she told about Kalema’s troubles. “On August 5, last year, I sent him sh15m,” she says.
A week later, Kalema allegedly asked for another sh3.4m to undergo another operation at Mulago Hospital and sh9m to pay for his lawyer and buy medicine.
Authorities closed the orphanage on orders of the assistant commissioner for children’s affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Kabogoza Ssembatya.
Located in Kitayunjwa sub-county, the facility was not registered with the ministry as required by law. The commissioner instructed that the children be relocated to a nearby registered home with the required facilities.
Patrick Waiswa, the LCI chairman of Bukyelimba village where Kalema’s orphanage was located, confirmed that the facility was still closed and there were no children there. He said he supervised the relocation of the120 children to Walk-way Junior Academy in Muyenga village, Bugiri town.
Where is Kalema?
John Baptist Bulega, the regional CID officer south eastern region confirmed that they were investigating Kalema over allegations of obtaining money fraudulently between October 2009 and April 2011 under General Enquiries 57/2011.
Bulega explained that Kalema, a resident of Kiryowa/Bukasa village, in Nyenga, Buikwe district, is said to have solicited funds for running the orphanage, which he allegedly registered through the Organisation of Good Life of the marginalized (OGLM), of which he is the director.
Kalema is currently out on bond. He told Saturday Vision he was being blackmailed.