TO THE CHILDREN IN UGANDA
With each child we serve, our staff conducts a “home trace” to locate and establish contact with their closest living relatives. If a child can be reunited with his or her family that is always our preference. It is our desire to reconnect children to their families, so in every situation we strive to restore the family unit by involving and maintaining relationships with surviving relatives if and when possible. If the family is willing to care for the child but unable to do so for financial reasons, we will work with the family to provide the child with an academic scholarship. However, we recognize that village life is not always suitable, so we work hard to ensure that a child will be properly cared for before resettling them. If we believe the child’s home environment poses a threat to their well-being and no options exist for the child to live with other relatives, the child will be invited to join our restoration home in Jinja.
Life on the streets proves to be treacherous for children who find themselves without a place to call home. These children become extraordinarily resourceful and resilient in order to survive. They form and function to satisfy a much needed sense of ‘belonging’ for children without families or other support systems, and are accordingly trapped in cycles of criminal activity and violence. At one point or another, many turn to substance or drug abuse in order to endure the harshness of the streets, whether that be starvation, threat of violence, sex trafficking or hazardous weather conditions (extreme cold, rain storms, etc.).
Overlooked by society, street children are at best disregarded and at worst dehumanized. Because they lack identification documents, street children are often targeted in ways that perpetuate gross abuses of human rights. Most street children are subjected to, or at a minimum have witnessed, unreported police brutality (shootings, chain whippings, sexual violence). Others have been forcibly removed from the streets by police officers in ‘round-ups’ and taken to ‘youth detention centers’ that fail to meet international human rights standards. In order to feed themselves, many children will work in unsafe and exploitative environments that expose them to the dangers of child labour, sex slavery and human trafficking. In Uganda, the prevalence of witchcraft also makes street children targets for kidnappings and child sacrifice rituals. For ‘unregistered’ children (those lacking proof of birth or identity), all are susceptible to abduction in one form or another because there is no proof of the child’s existence before their disappearance.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
“We read the letters in class yesterday, and some of my students were moved to tears. Your boys are so inspiring, and they should be proud to know that they are changing lives in the United States. Your boys have inspired not just one student, but whole classes of students to change the way they think about and view the world. The honesty and sincerity in the letters touched my students.”
Keith Marwitz, Teacher, Northeast Middle School
“The experience of taking my love for art to the street children of Uganda was a dream come true. As an art teacher, I stress drawing what the artist really sees in front of him instead of what he thinks he sees. It was extremely satisfying to see the boys’ pride in accomplishing this artistic challenge.”
Eva Crawford, Teacher, Charlotte Christian School
“It has been such a privilege to personally witness the growth in these boys over the years. They are becoming men of God, passionate about serving him and serving others. Isaiah 61 says, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations…Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” I am so humbled by their compassion and selflessness. Whether we’re studying the word or dancing around the room, it is a joy to be a part of a family that the Lord has blessed. I love and miss them dearly when I am not home in Uganda.”
Tatiana Wilson, Harvard University
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The Street Child Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.