All week we’ve been talking about caring for the orphan by equipping their caretakers to be self-sustainable. Another vulnerable group that very often gets overlooked are the older children — children in their teens who, without parents, are expected to be able to provide for themselves. But really, 13 and 15 year olds are still just children. We’re excited to present the fruits of our new initiative focused on these kids!
Less than a year ago, 20 children were taken off the street where they were living a hard life laced with stealing, fighting, and prostitution. They were doing anything they could to survive. Most of the kids I spoke with today had been abandoned in a deeply personal and very literal way. In one case, through watery eyes, a sweet 15 year old girl named Gladys told us about how her mother told her siblings and her that she didn’t’ have any more energy for them. And she left. Another girl named Fiona, also age15, told us how her mother took her two younger siblings and her to a stranger’s house and pleaded for shelter for the night.
When everyone woke the next morning, the mother was gone. Just like that.
While in our care, these children were taught how to make incredible beaded purses and shoes, how to knit school uniform sweaters, or about agriculture. They were also taught from the Bible, where “the Word molded them”, as explained by our on-sight pastor. Now they understand a life of love and worth through Christ and they no longer seek alternative lifestyles of crime. Also on-sight is a teacher who is teaching the largely illiterate children how to read using the Bible. After about six months, the children are fully trained and rehabilitated and are reintegrated back into their homes, where the fruits of their training significantly help sustain the family.
Just last month, 12 children were reintegrated into their families!
The children are using the skills they learned to make items that can be sold in the market. This contributes to the sparse income of the household. These kids reported that now the entire family can eat more than the one meal a day they were accustomed to, and they are able to pay rent for their meager homes.
As we’ve ventured deeper into this new initiative in Uganda, it continues to astound me how far our dollar goes in completely changing the lives of vulnerable children and families! For these kids, $135 will take them from being hungry and pretty beat up on the street, to being back home, bellies full of food, and school fees paid — sustainably. And they will have provided that for themselves! The subsequent result of this self-sustainability of these very young adults is that when they are old enough to have children of their own, those kids will see from their parent a work ethic and hope for the future, helping to end the cycle of poverty in that family.