“It never occurred to me that I would come this far.”
These are the words of Peter Iganga , a boy who enrolled in our program when he was 14 years old in 2003 (when it was called the Tigers Club Project). He had left home to escape physical abuse by his stepmother and ended up in Kampala, barely surviving by scavenging for scrap metal.
While in the slums of Kisenyi, other children told him that there was food to be found at Tigers Club. Upon his arrival at the clubhouse, he was welcomed by the staff and given a plate of food. Afterwards, a nurse treated his wounds. He decided to stay, taking advantage of Retrak’s night refuge and catch-up learning program. He told his counsellor that he wanted to go back to school, but not back to his abusive home, so he moved into the Retrak hostel and attended primary school, then secondary school, and finally a vocational institute where he earned a certificate in cosmetology. Peter is now managing a salon, where he earns a good living and is saving to pay for further education.
Peter says, “I am so grateful to Retrak, for taking care and shaping me to become the kind of person I am right now. May the almighty God bless each one of you”.
Would you like to help more children like Peter grow to realize their potential? One way you can help us is to participate in GlobalGiving’s Fundraiser Campaign during the month of September. GlobalGiving has created this fundraiser tool to help you get started. They’re giving away prizes to our supporters (JetBlue tickets, a flip cam, and more) and financial bonus awards to the organization with the most successful fundraisers.
Creating your own fundraiser is a fun and creative way to make a difference in the lives of street children in Africa. Click here for further details on this exciting opportunity!
This morning I received in my in-box the story of a boy who's supported by Retrak's partner project in Uganda, CRO. It was sent out by a colleague in the UK to remind us of why work hard to support children and young people in Africa. I thought I would share it with you:
“My name is Kavic (not real name). I am 16 years old. I used to stay in the suburb of Kasanvu in Mbale with my parents. In 2003 my mother separated with my father because my father was involved in another relationship. He abandoned us in the house and disappeared with his second wife to some unknown place. Life became very difficult and the only source of income we had was from the sale of alcohol my mother brewed. The money was not enough to pay house rent and buy food for the family. I went to the streets and started picking scrap for sale and in a day I could earn USH1000 [less than 40¢] and took this money to my mother so she could buy food.
In 2004 CRO Social Workers found me on the streets picking scrap. They invited me to the Centre to attend the rehabilitation programme. A few months later, my mother was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She began on the treatment of ARVS. This helped her to continue with her business of brewing alcohol. In 2009 my mother became very weak and died. I was thrown out of the house because I could not afford to pay house rent. I went to sleep on the streets but CRO learnt of it and resettled me with a foster mother. I stayed with her for about one year and she later chased me out of the house. I resorted to sleeping in a video hall where I paid for a night while I went to school. This affected my concentration at school because I sometimes had to leave early so I could work to get this money.
I am very glad that I am one of the boys that was selected to sleep in a better room. My life has changed because I received a blanket and a mattress. I can do my evening studies and feel safe and secure in the night. I go to school in Mbale S.S in S.4. My interests are in sciences. When I grow up I want to become a Medical Surgeon. I want to thank all the people who have helped CRO to support me. Without this support I would be still in the streets leading a miserable life. Thank you very much.”
“My son is alive, he is not dead! Oh thank you God.” Those were the words of the mother of Peter, twelve years old, when Retrak social workers brought him to his home village for the first time since he ran away several months earlier. The visit was meant to be a short pre-resettlement home visit, but it turned out to be a resettlement, as his mother wept tears of joy at seeing her son again and all agreed that Peter should stay.
Peter returned home during school holiday time, and when the holidays were over he was very excited to return to school. But when Retrak social workers followed-up at the school three months later, Peter was nowhere to be found. The social workers eventually found him in the forest, burning wood for charcoal. He explained that he and his mother could not afford the school fees, so he was making charcoal to sell in order to pay the fees. The Retrak social workers returned to the school with Peter, paid his remaining school fees and spoke to the teacher about watching out for Peter and letting them know if there were any further absences. Now they're working with Peter's mother (his father died many years ago) to support her in income-generating projects so that Peter can continue his education.
Resettling children, making follow-up visits, and supporting income-generation projects are just a few of the many activities that Retrak does to ensure that each child in our program is able to grow up in a safe and loving home, and it's thanks to your support that we're able to continue our work.
This Wednesday, March 13 is a GlobalGiving Bonus Day. Any donation you make to Retrak will be matched by 30%. Please consider making a generous donation on Wednesday to help Retrak and the children in our program.
This past Saturday Britt Lake, the Direct of Programs at GlobalGiving and I had the pleasure of visiting Retrak in Kampala. Retrak is nestled in town, but even with all the hustle and bustle of city happenings Retrak's center provides a peaceful escape for street youth in the area.
Britt and I met most of the staff who kindly spent part of their Saturday with us talking about the programs they offer. Right away we were blown away by the passion and empathy the staff brought to the conversation. Retrak's programs are abundant. They have an outreach program which uses soccer to introduce Retrak to the youth. Retrak also works to ease hunger, homelessness and internal issues by providing three meals a day and services such as counseling, basic skills training and foster care, as well as family reunification.
The staff builds trust, and it is clear there is mutual repect between staff and the youth. Barry, who works with the youth as they prepare to go back home spoke about the importance of building trust. Once a positive connection is made the youth open up and begin to share their story. As Barry eloquentely put it, "They tell you what they keep secret in their heart."
Retrak is working to expand their program. Churchill, the Director has big plans and continues to see the immediate need for continuation of programs, as well as the need for expansion. Retrak is soon opening a new transit center. Churchill and his staff have big plans for 2013, stay tuned to hear more about their amazing work!
As 2012 comes to a close, we at Retrak want to thank you for your support of our work with street children in Africa. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Retrak was able to accomplish some amazing things in 2012, such as:
That’s just a partial list of Retrak’s accomplishments of 2012. We look forward to expanding our work and reaching even more vulnerable children in 2013. Our vision is a world in which no child is forced to live on the streets, and with your help we will continue working to transform highly vulnerable children’s lives, preserve families, empower communities and give each child a voice.
Thanks again for your support. Have a wonderful 2013!
P.S. Please consider making an end-of-year donation to Retrak by clicking here.
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US Country Director