My hope as you read about him is that you will realize why it is important to help, why these boys are important, and the cruel life that they face each day they spend on the streets.
So here is the story of dear, precious Patrick...
You think you always have time. Nothing is so urgent. If you wait one more day, what difference will it make. Each day I wish that I would have acted when I felt moved to, but I felt like I had time. I wonder how things would be different. Sometimes when I am just sitting quietly my mind drifts to him and the last time I saw him.
I don't care what the community said about him or what he was known as to them. The other boys in the home were known for the same things. Some of them were the most difficult of difficult; always stealing, doing drugs, gambling. But inside, they were different. I actually didn't even know Patrick's reputation until afterwards. Had I, I know it wouldn't have changed anything.
When we were living outside of the slum, we went to church in the slum. One of the last times I saw Patrick was at church. I had already sat down and was giving the evil eye to the other boys to make sure they knew they better not leave that church. In walked Patrick. It caught me off guard. Here I had to scream to get us all out of the house and to church, fight about clothes, shoes, you name it. We were always late. A bit of a circus. (This day people we laughed were actually laughing at us. Ronald was running around with my glasses, I was screaming to stop. The boys were chasing each other. My glasses almost got stepped on and broken a hundred times. Ronald and Jacob started fighting. We were a mess!)
But there was Patrick. Dressed in the best clothes he had. At church. He gave me the same smile he always did when he saw me, we bumped fists, and he sat a few rows in front of me. And then he began to worship.
He danced and sang and worshiped God with all he had. A boy, that had nothing, sang and danced for God. No one made him. No one forced him to go. He was there on his own. What did he have to be thankful for? He didn't have a home, probably hadn't eaten yet that day, probably didn't sleep well the night before because either he was outside or in a cramped room. In our eyes, we would say he had nothing.
I was taken by his worship. I was shamed by it also. I had so much. We had food every day. I had a room to sleep in that I didn't need to share. I had a home full of laughter and love. He didn't have any of those things. But he was the one happy to be in God's presence, worshiping like he had the whole world.
It was that day that I knew he would join our family.
Patrick was always smiling, singing and dancing every time I saw him. He always said hi, we always bumped fists, and then he went back to his singing and dancing. He always put a smile on my face. He always seemed happy. I never saw him moping or in a bad mood.
After I left Uganda in March, I thought of him often. I thought of him coming home after I got back. I thought of him having a future. I felt like it wasn't urgent, that a few more months wouldn't make a difference.
Well, they did.
It wasn't long after I got back that I heard the bad news. Except I was a world away and no one was clear as to who it was. I prayed it wasn't him. When I finally saw a photo someone published on Facebook, I was crushed.
No one can tell the exact story. I have heard a different one from everyone that I asked. But it seems, that Patrick was out collecting scrap. It was still dark out. Apparently, he was somewhere he shouldn't have been. Maybe there was a guard. Maybe he was chased. Maybe he slipped. Maybe he was stabbed. Maybe he fell.
Whatever the cause, he should never have been in that situation. He shouldn't be responsible for providing for himself at such a young age. He shouldn't be living on the streets. He shouldn't be without a family that loves him and values him.
The injustice doesn't end there...
Some how, they figured out where he was from. They traveled to his village to tell his family the bad news. And from what I heard, they didn't care. They didn't want to come and claim him. They didn't want to bury him. They said he was a burden in life, he wouldn't be a burden in death also.
Can you imagine? Me neither.
He finally was buried on his family's land but no thanks to them. He is finally at rest. He isn't suffering, wandering the streets looking for food or scrap to get food. He will never be chased or beaten again. He will never be harassed again. He will never be made to feel like he is less than nothing.
Actually, I can see him now. Dancing and singing at the feet of his Father who never gave up on him.
I will love and miss you forever Patrick!
|at the beach|