I met Kansiime when I first got to Uganda. He was maybe 14 years old and barely spoke English. He was a really cute kid and had a huge smile. He was part of the paper bead jewelry program for older boys from the street. The program was designed to let the older boys earn money by making paper bead jewelry. When I met the group, there were 6 members. I started to teach the group English and Math, so I got to know Kansiime fairly well.
After a month or so, Kansiime stayed out all night one night and didn't go home. Something happened with him and when he finally did go home the next day, he simply asked for his things and said he didn't want to be there anymore. This wasn't his first time do this, so the group decided if he did come back he wouldn't be allowed to rejoin them. Sure enough after a few days he asked to rejoin the group and he couldn't. From that time, he was on the streets.
It was really hard seeing him on the streets. He was a really sweet boy and loved to joke around. He used to play around and try his hardest to make me laugh. It made me really sad that he was on the streets again. One day he was running and fell. His whole leg and knee had huge scrapes and cuts on it. For the next month, my job was to clean and dress his leg whenever I saw him. I thought his leg would never heal. It got infected so bad once there was nothing I could do for it. We had to take him to the clinic. It hurt him so badly, he just cried and screamed uncontrollably as the nurse tried to get the infection out.
It was the hardest when the home opened. When it started there were only 8 boys. There were so many more that I loved but I just didn't feel like I could manage. I remember one day when I was leaving the slum and walking home with some of the boys from the home. Kansiime stopped me and I knew what he wanted. It hurt to tell him no that day. It hurt a lot.
Kansiime started staying at the house after I came back to the US. I was really happy that he did. I love to hear his voice when I call. His laugh is infectious and he always brings a smile to my face. He has changed a lot since he has come into the home. I can hear it in the conversations we have and the things he tells me. He wants to take responsibility for his life and his family. I am really proud of the young man he is turning into. It is a huge blessing to have him in my life and I can't imagine not having him in the home. I know he is going to do amazing things in the future and be the best husband and father. I think he is amazing now.
Unfortunately, not everyone always sees the boys, including Kansiime, how I do. I can handle it when they are strangers or people on the street. I just dismiss their rude remarks as ignorance and intolerance. Up until last week, I only had to deal with strangers' intolerance and hatred. Of all of the boys that have returned to their villages, their families have been so happy to see them. I never expected anything different and then last week Kansiime went to his village.
Last time he went, he visited his father's side of the family. His dad wasn't around but his grandparents were so happy to see him and he still calls them regularly. He wanted to track down his mom this time and we expected it to be the same. We expected everyone to be happy he was back. He is an amazing kid. Why would they feel any different?
As it turned out, they weren't happy to see him. They only pretended while the "uncle" was there. They told him it was fine, he should stay, and wait for his mom. As soon as the "uncle" left, his grandparents told him his mom was a bad person and misbehaved so much and they don't know where she is. They told him that he could not stay there, he had to leave. They didn't want him.
There he was. Alone. Being told he was unwanted. Again. I don't understand how they could do it. It wasn't strangers. It was his own family. So he had to make the long trip back to Kampala alone and hurting.
I will never understand how people can just throw these kids out like they are trash. They are all amazing kids and have added so much to my life. Each and everyone of them is a blessing and even in the difficult times when I want to rip my hair out, I wouldn't trade a single one of them for the world. I don't understand why their families don't always see it. I don't get why strangers don't see it. I don't understand why people feel the need to say such awful things to them. I hope this is the last time Kansiime ever has to feel like this. I hope he knows how much I love him. I hope he knows that he is always going to be a part of my family. I hope he realizes how much God loves him and that God is his Heavenly Father and will never let him go. Kansiime is in the home. He will hear these things over and over. There is someone there to love him and make him feel better. But not all of the boys are so lucky. There are hundreds of more boys on the streets still that hear the same things every day, only there is no one to tell them each day they are loved and worthy. There is no one there to comfort them when they are sad and crying because of someone's hateful words. So they lose hope, they stop trusting, they turn to drugs, they shut the world out.
You can help me make a difference. We still have room for maybe 5 more boys but we have to get sponsors for the boys we already have and then for the new boys also. If you want to change a boy's life and let him know how much he is loved, consider being a sponsor. It will change his life and I guarantee you will only add to yours. Email me at email@example.com for more info.