Monday, September 24, 2012


Last, but not least, on to Ibra...

Ibra is about 15 years old and is one of the boys in boarding school.  He is in primary 4 and is really held back in school because he is not a very strong reader yet.  It is kind of strange because his English is almost perfect.  I don't know where he learned English so well but he is a very clever kid.

Ibra is short for Ibrahim.  So as his name suggests, his family is muslim.  From what I was told, he was living with his mom, was a bit stubborn, decided to run away, and stayed gone for around a year.  During the year, he found Jesus, fell in love with Him, gave his life to Him, decided to go back home, and was rejected.  His mom was not happy that he was now a Christian and told him he wasn't welcome.  So he came back to the streets.  He joined a home for boys a little bit later but the boys in the home had to fend for themselves sometimes because the home was always underfunded.

Ibra would go to a certain church a lot.  He is very friendly and outspoken, so he made many friends there.  He started to be a good leader and show he was really responsible.  The leaders for another program for boys on the street recognized this and started to give him more responsibilities in the program.  He was proving himself to be trustworthy and on fire for Jesus.  A friend of mine realized this and how much potential he had.  After speaking with his mom, she offered to put him in a really good Christian boarding school where he could catch up on his studies and continue to grow in his faith.

When she left Uganda, I offered to continue to watch after Ibra.  He still attends boarding school and stays in the home during the holidays.  He is always kind and respectful.  He loves to talk but at times talks to much. (It has kind of gotten him in trouble at school.)  He loves to be helpful and will do whatever you ask of him.  He is trustworthy and loves to pray.

This last school holiday, he went back to his village and found his grandma.  He stayed with her and helped around her house with daily chores.  He also reconnected with a neighbor that he was really close to.  He calls her mom also.  We found out that his mom was actually in Kampala also.  The day they tried to visit, they didn't find her.  We will help him to try and rebuild that relationship also.

Ibra is a great kid and I know he is going to do great things in the future.

Meet Ibra!


Ibra with Uncle Patrick

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Davis is a really special kid.  I met him because he used to live at the house I stayed at when I was in Uganda the first time.  He unfortunately kept making bad choices and kept running away.  The last time he left, he was told if he left, he couldn't come back.

He left anyway.

That happened when I was gone.  When I got back to Uganda in January, I found him on the street.  It seems with these boys, once they start running they don't stop.  As a result, most organizations put a limit on the number of times a boy can come back because usually they will just run again.  The worst thing is, sometimes they will take other boys with them or steal things as they leave.  A limit kind of makes them think about their plans to run again, but really if a boy has it in his mind to run, he will no matter who is around or what is done to stop him.

That is what happened with Davis.  I remember being home one time when he chose to run.  We all tried to talk him down.  It was the most intense of nights.

When Davis was on the streets, he would stop by the house sometimes. One time he got really sick so we let him stay the night so he wouldn't have to sleep outside.  The next day he woke up and left.

I really didn't know what to do for Davis. He had a special place in my heart and it made me so sad to see him on the streets. In the other home, he was always really nice to me. He loved my dog so much. He would take her and bathe her. That was no small feat. She hated baths and would go no where near the shower room if she thought she was about to get a bath. She weighed 80 pounds and she definitely wasn't doing anything she didn't want. He was patient though and tried to trick her. When that failed, he would just pick her up. I think sometimes my dog was drier than Davis after her bath. It never stopped him though. He tried to befriend my cat too but she kind of hates everyone (including me) so he didn't get very far with her.  He kept trying though.

I knew Davis had to want to be in the home for it to work.  For a while he seemed very indifferent to it.  He is a resourceful kid.  I am sure for a while he felt like he was doing fine and liked his freedom.  I found out that after I left, he had started staying with us more regularly.  The uncle knew Davis from before and really loved him a lot too, so he ended up letting Davis stay with us.  When I found out he was staying with us, I was really happy.

So far things have been going well with Davis.  He didn't want to go back to school.  He has never been crazy about it and really struggled.  His English is pretty good but he struggles to read.  He instead wants to be a mechanic.  So for now, Davis is staying at home and learning English and Math better and soon we will start to look for a garage that will train him.

Meet Davis!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Where do I start with Joel????

Not really sure.  I don't think I remember the first time I met him.  As I type, I am trying to remember...

I do remember thinking after I knew Joel for a while, he was different.  He is older than most of the boys that were at programs.  He is around 17 or so.  Most of the boys his age didn't come to programs but spent their days doing drugs and causing problems.

Joel would be at programs and would always want to talk.  His English is pretty good, so we never had any problems communicating.  He would ask questions non-stop!  Things about the US, what I thought about Uganda, anything he thought of he asked.

He told me his story.  He said that he was working and his mom told him that he needed to move out.  So he was giving her money to save for him each week.  Well the time came for him to move out and his mom refused to give him the money.  So he had to leave and with no money and no place to go, he ended up on the streets.  He told me he found his way to Kivulu and saw the programs happening so he just joined in.

I remember one time I found him in Kivulu and he looked terrible.  His eye was swollen shut, his clothes were bloody, and he was in pain.  He had been robbed and beaten.  We took him to the hospital and got him treated.  (The doctor was so rude and yelled at me.  Actually that happens almost every time I take a kid to the hospital.  The doctors are just on power trips and I guess it makes them feel better.)  But Joel's eye was swollen shut for a long time.  It is amazing that there wasn't permanent damage to it.

Joel always cares about what he looks like.  When he was on the street, he would pay someone in Kivulu to keep his clothes.  Usually it was the man that washes the clothes and then he would pay extra.  (There are little shacks there that run like laundromats.  You can take clothes to them and they will wash and iron them. He would pay extra to let them stay there until he needed them.)  Even now, he is always concerned about what he wears and how he looks.

A while after meeting Joel, I started to wonder if we could put him in a vocational training program.  He told me he had only completed first grade.  So that wouldn't be possible.  Most vocational schools want the students to have completed at least the first 4 years of secondary school.  Not helpful.  Then Joel got an opportunity to have a job, but he refused it.

That kind of changed Joel in my mind and everyone else's, except one.  I don't blame Joel for refusing.  Unfortunately, there is very much a culture of waiting for handouts in Uganda.  Don't get me wrong, SO MANY people work so hard EVERY SINGLE day!   They work hard without breaks or vacations and are barely making it by.  But because of how aid was previously given (just handed out with nothing required of the people) many people prefer to sit and wait for handouts.  I don't blame people for this.  It is what they have been conditioned to.  It is difficult to change a culture that we helped to create, by we I mean foreigners.  Now aid is changing and organizations are going to a more works based form of giving (teach a trade, the person makes an item, and then gets paid.  Essentially, jobs are created but it is still aid.).   We have the same problems here.  It isn't just in Uganda.

Anyway, back to Joel...

So like many others, Joel had a sense of entitlement.  He made an excuse and refused the job.  He wanted a sponsor so he could go back to school and he preferred to wait on the streets until that could happen.  Eventually, they kicked him out of programs because he was too old.  So he started to stay where Tom and Julius were staying.  He became really close with that uncle and another friend.  She had always loved him and that is how Joel came to be a part of our family.  When Julius and the other boys joined the home, Joel was living with them, so he came too.  People told me I shouldn't give him a chance but my friend loved him a lot and believed in him, so I did too.  Everyone deserves a chance.

Joel was difficult in the beginning.  He missed the uncle he had been staying with and it was really difficult to connect with him.  Since then, we have good days and bad, just like with any of the other kids.  I know Joel belongs in our family and I am happy he is with us.

Meet Joel!

at school

at Lake Victoria

with me at the swimming pool

Sunday, September 16, 2012

All I need to know

Remember those posters that said everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten?

Well it got me thinking...

I have learned so much from my time in Uganda and especially from the boys.  So I am feeling like everything I need to know, I learned from boys on the street.  Here are a few that came to mind.  Hope you enjoy!

  • Everyone deserves a chance.  No matter how wild, out of control, bad mannered, disrespectful, mean, hard, ..., someone is, he deserves a chance.  A lot of times, most of the time, he will surprise you.  I can't tell you how many times these boys have been written off as worthless, stupid, bad, unchangeable, incapable of love, undeserving of love, and incapable of amounting to anything.  It isn't true. They are changing before my eyes.  They just need love, patience, and encouragement.   Maybe that is all that person you are thinking of right now needs too.
  • Love is enough.  A lot of times, ok most times, I have no clue what I am doing.  I don't know if it will work, if it is a good idea, if it is crazy, or if it will make a difference.  I say the wrong things to the kids all the time, we get angry at each other.  Generally, we are a mess.  It is one big trial and error.  In complete chaos, what keeps us coming back?  Simple.  LOVE.  I love those kids more than anything and they know it.  When we mess up, love helps us to apologize and forgive.  It makes us want the best for us all.  It heals our hurts.  It helps us to put others first.  When ever I am having a bad day, frustrated with everything, and ready to give up, I will hear one of their voices tell me they love me and it is enough.  To know I am so undeserving of their love, but they give it freely keeps me going.  It makes me know everything will be ok.  We will be ok. 
  • Miracles happen.  You don't hear so much about modern day miracles.  It seems like most people(myself included) feel like healings and miracles were left to the Bible.  But, Jesus is still performing miracles and if you look, you will see them.  I have witnessed transformations that I never thought could happen.  Only explanation?  Miracle.  We have been without food and money and not sure where we were going to get food for the next month.  But we did.  How?  Miracle.  I have been praying asking God for confirmation.  The doorbell rang seconds later with the mailman delivering my confirmation.  Miracle.  Boys whose families said they didn't want them, have welcomed them home with open arms and happy celebrations.  Miracle.  God is still a God of miracles.  Jesus still heals.  He still performs miracles.  
  • You don't know what has happened, so always be kind.  When the boys are on the streets, you can imagine what has happened to them, but they rarely tell the truth.  Maybe it is because they are ashamed, maybe because it is too painful to remember, maybe it is just because it is personal and they don't want to share.  Sometimes you can tell the kids are sad and heartbroken.  Sometimes they seem happy and joyful.  Just because they are happy and joyful doesn't mean that they aren't hurting.  Just because they are acting out, doesn't mean they are a bad kid.  Knowing them has reminded me that you never know someone's story, and so it is best to always treat people with kindness.  Maybe they are mean and hurtful because they are so afraid of being hurt again, they just want to make sure no one gets too close.  Maybe they push you away because they have never been loved before and the idea scares them.  You just never know.  Maybe that really mean, grouchy person you are thinking of right now, is just really hurting and your kind words could make a difference.
  • Kids are kids, everywhere.  Just the other day, I was reading something about kids and thought, "Hey, the boys do that."  It dawned on me, kids are kids no matter where they live.  They have good days and bad.  Some days they never want to leave your side, others they want to be as far away as possible.  They love to play and laugh and do silly things.  They are imaginative, resourceful, and creative.  They have an innocence to them, even when people have robbed them of it.  They need love and affirmation and good role models.  They need to be reassured of their place in this world and their worth.  It doesn't matter if I am talking about the boys in Uganda or in Antarctica, boys are boys.  Kids are kids.
  • Don't judge what's on the outside.  When you look at a boy on the street, you see a dirty, scrappy little mess.  Maybe shoes, maybe barefoot, mismatched and missized clothes.  Probably covered in dirt, grease, or oil.  Maybe high.  On the outside, they look a mess.  They look like you might want to cross the street or hold your purse and bags a little bit tighter if they are walking towards you.  But on the inside...They can be some of the best kids you will ever meet in your life.  So kind, so generous, so joyful, so loving.  I can't count how many times a boy insisted I share his one meal of the day with him, or the time a boy took off his shoe for an aunt because hers broke and he didn't want her walking barefoot, or how they will help with anything you ask.  It is true, you can't judge a book by its cover.  These kids have taught me to look deeper than what is on the outside.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Tom was the first boy I chose to sponsor.

He lived at the bead house with Julius and Jacob.  He was a lot younger(11 or 12) so he wasn't part of the program really.  He helped make beads sometimes, but really the guy that managed the program(uncle) found him on the street and felt like he should bring him home.  So Tom stayed around but there was no money to go to school.

Right away, I noticed how bright Tom was.  When I would go there to teach them, he paid a lot of attention and usually got the right answer.  He was eager to learn.  He was also very polite and well mannered.  He did what he was told and rarely got in trouble.  I saw so much potential in him.  At the time, I still thought that  I was only going to stay in Uganda for a year.  I didn't have extra money, but I felt like if I could only help one boy, he was a good candidate.

So I made a deal.  I agreed to pay school fees if the uncle would take care of everything else.  We agreed he would continue to live with him, he would make sure he got to school each day, help with homework, and take care of all of the school supplies if I provided everything else.

Tom went to school and tested for which grade he would be placed in.  He could have been placed in fourth grade but he felt he would do better if he started in third.  He was so happy to be in school and worked so hard.  Each term, he was in the top 4, sometimes even first.  He scored almost perfect 100s every time.  If he wasn't first, he was so sad.

Tom lost both of his parents.  He was staying with an uncle before he came to the streets.  I don't know why he came to the streets but I don't think he was there long before he was taken to the bead house.  Last Fall/early winter, Tom decided that he wanted to go back to his village for a visit.  We of course happily let him go.  Turns out, his uncle was really happy to see him again and wanted him to live there again.  He couldn't provide school fees for Tom but he could provide everything else.  So we all agreed it would be best for Tom to stay with his family and I just continue helping with school fees.

Tom started primary 7 this year.  He skipped a few grades and it has been a little bit difficult for him.  He wanted to stay in class with his friends from the village.  He is still working really hard though and does his best.  Next year he will start secondary school.  I am hoping that he performs well enough on his exam to get into one of the best secondary schools.  He is a really smart kid and has a bright future ahead of him.  At one point, he said he wanted to be a missionary or a pastor.  I don't know if that has changed, but what ever he chooses I know he will be great!

Meet Tom!

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helping to make beads


Julius never talks.  Not like he can't, he just doesn't.  I have said some boys are quiet before, but Julius makes them look like mega extroverts and the life of the party.  I don't think there is a major reason for him not to talk, I think he is just a really quiet person.  He will chat every once in a while, but for the most part he prefers to listen to his music and be alone.

I met Julius when I first got to Uganda.  He was part of the paper bead making program with Jacob.  After a while, he had saved up some money and decided he wanted to return to his village.  He went back and we didn't hear from him or see him for many months.

And then one day he was back.

He rejoined the bead program and life went back to normal for him.  It turned out, his dad got angry at him and sent him away AGAIN! and told him to never come back.  When the bead program ended, Julius came home with us.

It isn't always easy with Julius because you never know if he is happy, angry, sad, etc. because he won't talk about it.  When we do group meetings, he prefers to stay in his room.  When we have dinner, he wants to eat alone.  He just likes to be alone.

Julius goes to school and tries really hard.  he was way behind when he started this year but because of his size, he's 15, they put him in primary 3.  He doesn't speak English well and can't read so he really struggles.  He hasn't given up though and keeps working at learning more and performing better.  Eventually he will catch up.

Julius has been back to his village 3 times now since he has joined the home.  Twice were during school holidays and once was for his sister's wedding.  We are helping him to try and rebuild that relationship with his family.  With time, I think old wounds will heal and they will continue to have happy reunions.

I spoke to Julius on the phone the other day.  It was a very rare occurrence. He wanted to tell me about his family and how happy they were to see him and see how he has been changing.  He told me they also really wanted to meet me.  I told him when I got back, we could go for a visit.

I am happy that he is able to go back to visit his family and reconnect with them.  With the short visits during the school holiday, all of the pressure is off of everyone and they can just reconnect and not have to worry about anything else.  It is really good to be able to see the kids so happy about visiting their families again, especially the ones I never thought would go back.

Meet Julius!

me and Julius

Julius is on the right

Richard and Julius

Julius at our old house.  He is standing outside our door.  The doors in the background were  our neighbors.

Monday, September 10, 2012


To be honest, I don't really know John.  He is one of the boys that has joined us after I left.  For the way the other boys rallied to convince me to let him stay, I just knew he was going to be amazing.

John was one of the boys that had been coming around the house for food after I left.  When the other boys found out that we were moving, they insisted that I let John and David come with us.  One boy, Ronald, even offered his spot in the home so John could have a chance.  They told me he has a really hard time on the streets and suffered a lot before, it would be so unfair of me to leave without him.

After I talked to him, I was convinced.  So John moved with us.  I know it is crazy, but I had peace about letting them both move with us even though I didn't know them.  I knew that God wanted him home with us.

I am glad he is.

I think it was not long before he came to live with us that I saw a photo of him with a friend on Facebook.  It made me laugh because he had put his name tag on his chin.  I thought he looked like a nice and funny kid.  I had no idea that he would be soon joining our family.

I spoke to John on the phone the other day.  While all of the other boys were angry at me and refusing to talk to me because they had gotten in trouble with me the day before, he happily took the opportunity to chat.  It never fails, every time we talk, he always says thank you.  He told me he was happy to be in the home, thanked me for sending him to school and helping him to see his family again.  He is always so kind, grateful, and genuine.

If I ask how the boys are or if there are any problems, I will never hear his name mentioned.  He is really quiet, gets along with everyone and stays out of trouble.  He works hard at school, helps around the home, and is overall a really good kid.  He is so easy going, well behaved, and laid back I have to specifically ask about him to get an update.

I wish I could tell you more about John.  I wish I had the history with him that I have with some of the other boys, but actually having a future is better.  He is safe now.  He has hope.  He has a future.  And I am so lucky to get to be a part of it.

Meet John!

John(l) with Jimmy and Julius in their school uniforms


Saturday, September 8, 2012


Before I tell you about Joseph, you should read here.  I am super excited and thankful to the girls at Darling Companion for featuring us today!  Make sure you check out the post about LOT 2545 and follow them to be continuously inspired.

Now, on to Joseph....

I have written about Joseph many times before but they are all under the name Brian.  Brian is his nickname. How he got a normal name for a nickname, I may never know.  Since it was a normal name, I never knew it was a nickname.

The first time I found out was when we went to the hospital to get a rabies shot for him.  He was out collecting scrap and was attacked by a dog.  Just to be safe, we decided to take him to get the shot.  It was at the government hospital so it was free and it couldn't hurt him to have it.  So off we went.  When we got to registration, I asked him what his other name was.  He answered in such a whisper, I had to ask him many times and then told him to speak up.  That is when he told me his real name was Joseph and what his other name was.  I was shocked.

He wanted to be called Joseph, but I would forget.  I would ask the other boys about Joseph and they wouldn't know who I was talking about, so I kept forgetting and just calling him Brian.

It seems like a lot of our encounters were after he was bitten by a dog.  Another time, we were at camp for the boys on the street.  He had bitten a few days before but was still on antibiotics.  He was supposed to go back to the hospital to get another IV of antibiotics.  I started to feel really bad at camp but no one else would take him to the clinic.  I tried to hide my discomfort but by the end, I think he realized.  That was the sickest I had ever been.  By the time I walked into the house, I was crying and was in excruciating pain.  I don't know how I kept it together but I am sure it was only by the strength of God.  I am glad that I was there for Joseph that day.  It definitely helped us grow closer.

Things weren't always easy between us.  There was a long period of time where he was just a ball of anger and refused to speak to me.  I could say hi and he would walk past me as if I was invisible. The breakthrough came when a friend and I were fasting.  You can read about it here.

Joseph came into the home because he was attacked by a dog again.  I felt like that was God telling me, Joseph has had enough, you need to act.  So I asked the uncle to go and find him and bring him home.  Hearing his giggles and squeals the first time we talked on the phone was the best.  Since then, we have struggled.


He has only been with us since May and he has already run away.  He came back but just wasn't ready for school, so he sat last term out.  School has started again and he is going again but we aren't sure he is ready. the thing is he is so young, maybe 12 or 13, but he has been on the streets for so long.  Maybe since he was 9.  He doesn't remember what it means to be safe and issues come up because of that.  He doesn't remember what it means to be loved, so he lies and manipulates to get his way.   He is hurting beyond anything I could ever imagine, even in my worst nightmares, and still wants to find comfort in drugs.

I know deep down, under all of the hurt and heartbreak, there is a wonderful kid.  It seems like he is too much right now, but I know he will change.  He just needs lots of love and time.  God has worked miracles in him before and I know that He will do it again.  Soon his beautiful smile won't just be a mask, but a reflection of his happiness and joy.

Meet Joseph!

Please pray for healing for Joseph and that his heart would settle and be softened.  Please pray that God would work another miracle for Joseph and help him let go of his past and look to the future.  Pray that Joseph would just let us in and let us love him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Dan is a really special kid.  He is so cute.  For a while, he was growing his hair in a mohawk.  I thought it was adorable.  It has been a long time since I have seen him, but he has never left my heart.

I got to know Dan because he got really sick with Malaria.  Sadly, a lot of the boys I got to know because they were sick or we had to take them to the clinic for an injury.  I always feel terrible when they are sick.  I think as terrible as day to day is for the boys, I think they find a way to manage.  There are enough things to distract them(not all good-drugs and terrible movies) and make them forget that they don't have a family or someone to love them.  I think they just find a way to put it out of their mind, so they can actually manage another day.  Don't misunderstand, life on the streets is not fun for the kids and each day they suffer, but I think most days even when they are super sad and missing their family or devastated from abuse, they find some way to make it through the day.

But when they are sick, the game changes...

Thankfully I have never had malaria or typhoid.  And I pray I never do.  I have seen enough boys sick with malaria and typhoid to know that it might be less painful to die.  Some of the boys are so hot with fever sometimes, it almost seems like you can see the fever radiating off of them.  They will just sit and not move, because any move is too exhausting.  Their heads are pounding, stomach in knots, and drained of energy.  It is the saddest thing to see.

For me, I really think when they are sick is one of the toughest times.  It is also why some of the hardest kids become less difficult when they are sick.  I think it is everyone's natural response to want comfort when they are sick.  Someone to tell them they will be ok, the medicine will start working soon, rub their back, bring their favorite foods, baby them and help them get better.  For the boys on the street, they don't have this.  We try the best we can, but they still sleep alone at night maybe out in the cold.  There isn't someone always there telling them that they will feel better and bring them their favorite food.

They are alone.

Dan was a really distant kid.  Sometimes around, sometimes not.  When he got sick, those barriers came down and he let us in.   After he got well, he started coming around more.  I found out how sweet and nice he was and quickly fell in love with him.  The more I got to know him the more I started to wonder how I  could get him off the streets.

He would also go to a program that was only on Sunday.  That program was working on getting files of information on all of the boys.  One Sunday I was looking through the files and came across Dan's.  It said he really wanted to go home.  He missed his mom and sisters and he knew that they loved him and missed him.   He said that he had made a mistake and regretted leaving home.  We talked to him and found out his story and decided it would be best for him to be resettled.  A friend had just received a donation to be used for miscellaneous things like this, so we asked an uncle to help and take him back to his family.

The night before he went back home, I took him to an Indian restaurant with a few friends.  He did not like the Indian or Chinese food that we had order but decided to stick with the basics, chicken and chips(fries).  We had a great time, but it was a sad goodbye.  I was happy he was going home but I knew I would miss him.

The uncle said his family was so happy to see him.  His grandmother just shouted and praised God when she saw him because she thought he was dead.  He unfortunately found his parents divorced, so his mom was not around.  They decided that he should stay with the grandmother(his dad's mom).

The uncle has stayed in contact with him all of this time.  I found out at the beginning of this year that Dan had gone to stay with his mom.  The dad wouldn't offer any support so Dan had found a job to help his mom.  She didn't have the money to pay for school, so instead he just worked.  I am so proud of Dan for staying in his village for as long as he has.  It wasn't the situation he imagined and has probably been difficult at times but he has stayed.

I wondered at the beginning of the year how to help him but didn't have the extra money to pay his school fees.  It weighed on me a lot because I knew Dan was a smart kid and he deserved a chance at school.  I finally just decided to make another leap for him, because he is worth it.  

Dan is still with his mother but he will finally be going back to school.  I can't wait to get back to Uganda and go and see him in his village.  It has been over a year since I have seen him.  I am sure he has grown so much.  He captured my heart sometime ago and hasn't let go since.

Meet Dan!

at a Uganda Cranes soccer game

at programs on craft day

at our Easter party

at the soccer game

***If you would like to help us send Dan back to school, click on the Donate tab at the top and in the memo, indicate it is for his school fees and supplies.    Thank you in advance for your help!  :-)

Monday, September 3, 2012


One of the things that sticks with me about David is his homecoming.  If you didn't read it the first time around, check it out now.

I have since gotten used to having David in the home.  The kids call him Rabadaba.  It makes me laugh every time.  I have no idea where it came from but every time I hear it I think of the Flintstones.  Sometimes the kids get nicknames from the clothes they wear.  One boy was called FBI because the shirt he wore for a long time had FBI on the front.  So I always picture David wearing a shirt with Fred and Barney in their car pedaling with their feet.  It brings a smile to my face every single time.

David has turned into a good kid.  He takes his school serious and tells me he loves studying.  When he began we thought he would be in primary 5.  When he was tested at school he passed the primary 5 test and put him in primary 6.  He works hard and was named entertainment prefect.  I really have no idea what that means, but he was really excited when he told me and so it must be an honor to be chosen.  I think anytime the boys are given any responsibility at school (or in the home) it makes them feel good.  It shows that they are trusted.  

David is one of the oldest boys in the home.  He is the boy in the highest grade and so other boys look up to him.  It was a struggle in the beginning to make him understand that.  Now he works hard to set a good example.  He helps counsel the boys if they are having problems.  He makes sure he studies hard and does his homework each night.  He translates for them and helps them when they need help.  

The other day I was talking to him on the phone and we were talking about the uncle that visits a few times a week.  I asked what he had been learning from him.  (The uncle comes to do devotions with them and some counseling.)  He said that the uncle had just taught him about fasting.  He told me how that was his first day fasting.  When I asked him what he did when he fasted, he told me he prayed to God and worshiped him all day.  When I asked what he was fasting for he told me so I would be fine and be back to Uganda soon, that  he would do well in school, and for the other boys and uncles.

I never thought that David could be this kid.  I would have never given him a chance on my own.  I had in my mind who he was and for whatever reason didn't believe he deserved a chance.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Truth is David is one of the easier kids in the home.  He appreciates being there and his chance to go to school.  The uncle doesn't complain about his bad behavior.  He wants to be different and he is trying really hard to be. 

Meet David!


David with John, Jimmy, and Julius

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I remember one night, right after Ronald came into the home, we were sitting and talking.  I was asking him about his past.  He was talking very freely with me.  He told me about being in the village, coming to the city, staying in the slum with an aunt, being taken back to the village, but when I asked him why he left, he shut down and said he didn't want to talk any more.

Of course I didn't push him and I changed the subject.

I am sure you are wondering what happened now.  What could have been so bad that he didn't want to talk about it?  I still don't know.  I may never know.  And I have to be ok with that.  I have to be ok knowing that I will probably never know the boys' histories.  In a way, I am glad.  I don't think I could handle knowing.  But in a way, its also strange.  Our past is so much of who we are.  All of our experiences shape how we view the world and interact with people.

But truth is, I don't need to hear the stories to know.  I have started reading books on trauma and abuse lately.  I was just telling a friend today if I could go back and do life over, I would go to school for counseling and fashion.  Weird combination, huh?  I feel very inadequately prepared to deal with the aftermath of the boys' previous lives.  It is overwhelming and I don't know where to begin or what the right thing to do is.

Because of the books I am reading, I am able to start putting the puzzle together.  I read about the visible symptoms of the effects of abuse and trauma and it finally makes since why he does this or that.  Not just Ronald, but all of the boys.

In a way, I think that the past can weigh us down.  How many times have you run into someone that used to know you when... And you feel like they are silently judging you and are in disbelief that you are different now.  Or something terrible happened to you and everyone just looks at you with that pitying look. too.  It stinks.

The boys all have a lot of stuff weighing them down.  Their lives before the streets and on the streets were not filled with happy memories.  But when they come into the home, they can leave it all behind.  I don't need to hear their stories to know I love them.  I don't need to know their past.  In the home, we are starting over.  It is a new beginning.  A chance to leave their old lives behind and have a future filled with hope and love.  Sometimes it is difficult but at least they are trying.

The first time I met Ronald was to take him to the clinic.  I didn't know him but noticed he had a huge infected cut on both of his legs, I think one of the other boys actually took me to see him.  It was obvious they hurt him and he should be on antibiotics.  So off to the clinic we went.  I sat there with him as they tried to get the infection out of his wounds.  He tried so hard not to cry.

From that moment on, I knew I loved him.  I prayed many prayers for him, begging God to help him trust me.  Of course God answered.

Ronald is very talkative.  He loves to just run his mouth.  He doesn't need to be talking about anything in particular but he just loves to talk.  If he isn't talking, you know something is wrong.  He is also very charismatic.  The other boys look up to him.  He isn't a very big kid, but he has respect and is very likable.  He is a leader and some days this is very problematic for us because he leads the other boys to trouble.

Lately, he has become obsessed with boxing.  I tried to talk him out of it but he wouldn't give up.  I told him he wasn't disciplined enough because boxers were very serious and the training was difficult.  He said he could do it.  Ronald has had more problems than normal in the home lately.  He has outbursts of anger and becomes very quarrelsome.  He will fight and argue with anyone that annoys him in the slightest bit.  I told him boxers don't behave like that and he said he would change.  So we made another deal.  He promised no more fighting and arguing at home, he would be a good leader and example to the boys, and he could no longer, for any reason, step foot in the slum.  For the holiday, he has been a different kid just like he promised, so soon he will start going to the gym.

My hope is he will learn discipline and it will be therapeutic for him.  My hope is it will help him process whatever has happened and begin to heal.  My hope is this is what he needs to make a fresh start, to leave his past behind and look towards the future.  Who knows, maybe he will win the next gold for Uganda!

Meet Ronald!

when he was still on the streets

with Uncle Lawrence and David

me and Ronald

with Richard on his first day back to school

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I usually talk to the boys several times a week on the phone.  It helps with the distance and missing them a little.  Hearing their voices always brightens my day.  Some of the boys still don't speak English well, so we have to have the uncle translate.  But for the boys that speak English well, they will run off with the phone and we can talk for 20-30 minutes.  I love hearing their voices, about their days, their problems, their triumphs.  It makes me feel like I am still there.  I pretend that we aren't actually on the phone but sitting in our family room.

Sometimes talking to them makes me sad.  It reminds me how much I am missing each day I am gone.  They are at that age where they grow over night.  They are in that place where they change overnight.  It is a humble reminder that it isn't me that makes the boys change, but God.  And I am so grateful for His faithfulness and love.  Without Him, I know we would have never made it...

This is the story of Dunkan whose real name is Allan.  I don't know where he got the nickname from but I like the name and out of habit, I still call him Dunkan.

We almost didn't make it.  It was tough.  Sometimes, I thought just too tough and I had definitely gotten in over my head with him.  I absolutely adored him but he was never supposed to live in the home.  He was going to go home to his mother and I was just going to sponsor his studies.  That was what we agreed on.  The day I was supposed to meet his sister, she never showed up.  The next day when I saw him, he avoided me.  Finally, he came to the home and told me that he couldn't go back home.  They would never let him go to school.  He told me his sister never showed up because she was drunk.  So I told him it was ok, I loved him and would like him to live with us.

I knew Dunkan was a difficult kid.  I had seen him high, fighting, disrespecting, etc. but I really had no idea just how difficult he was going to prove to be.  I don't always like sharing the details of the boys problems. but with Dunkan I think it is important to see where he was so you can see how far he has come.  Dunkan is a miracle and all of the glory goes to God.  

Not long after Dunkan came into the home, things started missing.  A watch, a memory card, money, clothes, so many things.  No one could figure out who it was or find the stuff.  The house finally blew up over the memory card.  The boys were accusing everyone and turning against each other.  That is when Dunkan stepped in with a story and accused another boy.  The story was plausible and believable so immediately the other boy was accused and all of the boys turned against him.  Well, I am sure you can see where this story is going.  Dunkan had taken everything and had turned the house upside down.  Did I mention I had traveled to another part of Uganda that weekend for business and it was the uncle's first weekend with us?

I got angry phone calls from the boys telling me what he had done and found out he had ran away.  I got back on Sunday and he didn't come back home until Monday.  It turned out he had debts from when he was on the street and the people were demanding he repay them and he didn't know what else to do.

The problems didn't end there.  He struggled in the home.  He struggled with rules and listening.  He struggled respecting anyone.  He eventually ran away again after another incident.  It just kept going.  I remember thinking that he was just too much.  I couldn't handle him.  IT was one thing after another.  It was a mess.

Today, I had the chance to talk to him.  When I left Uganda, Dunkan spoke very little English.  Now we can talk and talk and talk.  He tells me about his day, his problems, school, whatever he wants.  When I asked him what he was doing he told me he was finishing practice at church.  The boy that used to not pray is now singing and dancing for the Lord!  He is dancing this Sunday.  When I told him I was sorry I was missing it, he told me not to worry I would see him one day.

He also told me something I will never forget.  He said, "I am not Dunkan.  I am not the Dunkan you knew anymore.  I am not a thief.  I am not the Dunkan that fights, does drugs, and has bad behavior.  I am a new Dunkan.  I have changed.  I am now becoming a gentleman."

Dunkan still questions me as to why I chose him.  He tells me time and time again that he was so bad and asks time and time again why.  I always tell him the same thing, because I love you.  Today it turned into a lesson about Jesus loving us enough not to leave us where we are and how we should treat those we love the same.  He is starting to get it.

He also told me when he is finished with his studies, he is going to bring some children from the streets into his home.  He said that he thought it was a good job to have to take care of those kids.  He told me that he would love to have a job like mine.  He said he wanted to get all of the kids off the street.

I hope Dunkan's story inspires you.  

I hope it gives you hope.  

I hope that it is as great of a testament of God's love and faithfulness to you as it is to me.

When I met Dunkan he was so far from God and had no interest in Him whatsoever.  Now, God is molding him to become His hands and feet.  

God loves all of us.  Even those that have strayed.  He loves us enough to not leave us where we are.  He loves us to use all of our hurts and bad stuff for good.  He promises to continue the work in us until the end.  He promises a new life and new beginning with Him.

Dunkan is proof of that.

Meet Dunkan!

in his school uniform

when he was still on the streets