We received such an encouraging update from Uganda this week we had to share it – please take the time to read it.
“The task of working with the street children is difficult, but sometimes we find a child who really challenges and inspires us. One such child is Bruce. Many in our home town of Kabale loath street children and do not yet understand the compassion, wisdom, and foresight these underprivileged members of their society are endowed with. In reality, many of the street children have learnt the basics of economics, well above and beyond what more privileged members of our community can comprehend.
It all started one sunny afternoon few days after we had opened the Amasiko gates to street children. Bruce – one of the seemingly ‘unkempt, wild, and badly behaved’ street children came to me and handed over a bottle of glue (commonly referred to as ‘gum’ in the street slang; a substance on which most of the children are hooked) and confessed: “Director take this gum, which has caused me untold problems. I no longer want to sniff nor touch it. You can throw it away, burn it or dispose of it as you wish. From now onwards I wish to be a good boy and be off drugs.” I couldn’t believe my ears, but accepted to keep the glue and said a silent prayer beseeching the Almighty God to grant Bruce the strength to overcome the addiction to glue. I was heartbroken a few days later when Bruce entered the Amasiko compound evidently ‘high’ from taking an overdose of glue. That day Bruce slept for over 4 hours – we had to wake him fearing that he had passed out.
Encouraged by the few enterprising and inspiring street children like Bruce, Amasiko staff developed the idea for a savings scheme which was shared with the street children. The savings scheme was promoted by staff to encourage the children to be responsible and refocus on a future of self-sustainability. Also, saving it reduces the amount of money that one would spend on non-helpful things, such as sniffing glue and going to video clubs where the kids are exposed to violent and inappropriate movies. Finally, Amasiko staff encouraged the street children to cultivate the practice of earning money the right way such as offering their labour legally and desist from dealing in unlawful activities or selling stolen items.
To date, the Amasiko children have pooled around Sh. 20,000 (£4). Although the amount looks meagre, it is a step in the right direction towards economic empowerment. Meanwhile, we’ve held several sessions with the children to reassure them that their savings are in safe hands. We will be providing the children with savings books so they can keep track of their hard earned money.
The picture is of Peace with the first street children at Amasiko.
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