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.
|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! :-)