Twenty years ago, two expats living in Kampala, Uganda, started playing pick-up soccer after work with a group of street boys. Little did they know in 1994 that over the course of the next two decades, this soccer club would evolve into a highly effective and respected organization that would change the lives of thousands of vulnerable boys and girls and their families in five African countries.
Oscar was one of the hundreds of children who walked through the gates of Retrak’s Clubhouses last year, taking that first step off of the streets and into a new life. After enduring many months of hardship alone on the streets of Kampala, Oscar found love and support at the Clubhouse. Oscar was a bit older than most of the children in Retrak's program, and with the guidance of a Retrak social worker, decided to pursue vocational training in metal welding with the hope of someday supporting himself independently. Retrak supported Oscar through his training and apprenticeship and assisted him as he transitioned into independent living, supplying him with support for accommodation, food, and a few simple tools.
Oscar is living completely independently now, working as a welder and saving money to start his own welding business and hire an assistant. He is forever grateful to Retrak, saying,
“I can’t imagine where I am now compared with two years back when food and shelter were my priority concerns. Today I can afford to eat what I choose and have a rented room for my home. Retrak you mean the world to me for without you I would not have had a chance to live again”
Our work is vital to children like Oscar and to the thousands more like him who are living outside of the protection of a loving family. We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the support of donors like you. Thank you for helping make our work possible!
#GivingTuesday has finally arrived! This is an exciting opportunity for Retrak, because Microsoft is giving a 100% match to any gift that you make to Retrak through GlobalGiving, up to $500!
Please donate soon, as matching funds may run out quickly. By donating to Retrak today, you can double the impact that Retrak makes with children living on the streets of Africa, helping them return to a loving home and family.
Your donation will help children like Ayana, a young Ethiopian girl who was sent by her aunt to a life of domestic servitude when she was 5 years old. In exchange for food and shelter, Ayana spent her days scrubbing floors, washing clothes and preparing meals for a family. When she was 14 years old, her employer beat her and forced her out onto the streets. Fortunately for Ayana, Retrak heard of her situation and stepped in to help. Ayana was reintegrated with her family and is living in a stable, loving and supportive home. You can read more about Ayana here.
Fred is another child who was helped by Retrak. Retrak’s outreach workers in Kampala, Uganda, met Fred for the first time during a regular soccer training session. Activities like these, held near the streets where the children live, provide a chance to get to know the children and for them to understand what Retrak can offer. Over the course of the following week, Fred joined in with soccer and other games, as well as getting good meals and attending the education and life-skills classes at the drop-in center. By the end of the week, Retrak’s outreach worker had learned that Fred had been on the streets for some time. Since he hated getting dirty and sleeping outside, he mopped the floor in a video hall every evening so that he could sleep inside. He had run away from home after his parents divorced and his father wouldn’t care for him.
After 5 months of counseling and preparation at the halfway home, Fred was able to return to live with his mother. He’s now settled at home and is back in school. You can read more of Fred’s story here.
On behalf of Ayana and Fred, and the thousands of vulnerable children that Retrak works with every year, thank you again for supporting us in our vital work in Africa. Please make a #GivingTuesday donation today!
Retrak's partner project in Kenya, Child Rescue Kenya (CRK), works with street children - called chokora in kiswahili - in Kenya's Rift Valley District. In their own words, here's why some of them ended up on the streets:
Maurine (12) "After my mom died, my father started drinking. He sold our land and our cow. We stopped going to school and had to beg for food. Then people started coming to the house. They would get drunk. My brothers ran away and I followed when he started beating us".
Davie (5) "I lived with my parents and my grandmother. One night people I don't know came to our village; they were from another tribe. There was fire and people started screaming. So much fire. We ran and ran until we could no longer hear the screams or smell the smoke. Then I realized, I was alone".
Susan (8) "I did not know it was wrong. My stepfather used to come to me. It hurt a lot. One night I cried and the neighbors came. They beat him. The police brought me here. I like it here but I want to go home".
Erupe (9) "I am from the desert. We used to herd goats. Baba had over 30 and we could trade milk and meat for other things. As the ground got drier our goats started to die. We don't have any now, Baba also died. There is so much hunger in Turkana".
Every child who comes through CRK's doors has a unique story of how they ended up on the streets. Their stories are heartbreaking, but the good news is that every one of these children, and thousands before them, has returned to a home and family, thanks to the work of Child Rescue Kenya... and thanks to your support.
Why is this boy smiling? Because today, starting at 12:00pm (noon) EST, Microsoft YouthSpark will match 100% of any donation that’s made to Retrak through GlobalGiving!
Please help Retrak take advantage of this remarkable opportunity by making your donation today. Your contribution will help children like Fred, who was born HIV-positive. He was just 9 years old when his mother died of AIDS. Two years later his father deserted him and Fred followed some boys from his rural village to Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Fred says, “I had no strength to scavenge for food or to work. The public rejected and mistreated me. HIV/AIDS was threatening to take my life. ‘Where is my daddy?’ I kept asking myself.”
Then came what Fred calls “a miracle day”. On the streets, Fred met Elvis, a Retrak social worker, who brought him to their drop-in center and later to their transitional home. Eventually Fred was placed with a foster family. Fred says, “Retrak gave me a second chance to live a new life. I was loved, cared for, treated, fed, clothed and housed. I left the transition home to go to live with my foster family, and finally I had an answer to the question, Where is my daddy? I had a new family. My past troubles were behind me. I had a new song and a big dream. Thank you!”
Fred’s story has a happy ending thanks to donors like you. You can create more happy endings by making another donation today, while the Microsoft YouthSpark 100% match is in effect.
Microsoft’s match will begin at 12:00pm today, and please… make your donation soon! Funds are limited and may run out quickly.
Retrak and Microsoft are teaming up to make your donation go even further! Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16, starting at 12:00pm EST, Microsoft will provide a 50% match to any donation that you give to Retrak. If you give $100, Retrak will receive $150. A donation of $50 will become $75. Microsoft will match any gift that you give to any of Retrak's programs.
And if that's not enough, Microsoft will also match 100% of the first three months of any recurring donation that you sign up for.
Your gift to Retrak tomorrow will help street children in Africa like Zergaw, a boy who was found sad, weary and confused outside of a bus station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had been on the streets for three weeks, having left his isolated village to try to find work to help support his sisters and widowed mother. Retrak staff helped reunite him with his mother, who wept tears of joy upon seeing him again. Then they worked with Zergaw's mother to help her establish an income-generating business, and with his school so that he could return to class.
When Retrak returned a few months later, it was clear that the business was doing well. The whole family was better fed and looking healthy, and all the children were back in school. Zergaw's mother said, "I am very happy and so grateful for what Retrak has done for me and for my son!"
Thank you for your past support of Retrak's programs in Africa. Please help us continue to help these children by participating in Microsoft's Bonus Day tomorrow, starting at noon EST. Please be sure to make your donation early, as matching funds will run out quickly.
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US Country Director