Najja lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS when he was 12 years old. As his mum was weakened by the sickness, she thought it wise to take both Najja and his younger brother to stay with their aunty. Their auntie didn't have very much money as she also cared for her own children and their father was no longer around.
Their grandmother would send money for their school tuition fees but their aunty needed to use it to pay for the family food. Soon the boys were made to leave school. Najja decided that if he ran away to Kampala he would be able to get a job and earn money for himself and his brother.
He spent a year in the city, living and working on the streets. He was often hungry and could only make a tiny bit of money collecting plastic bottles. He was scared to go home though as he knew he had been wrong to run away. At night time he was very scared and lonely. He was often kicked and beaten by adults who didn't think he should be sleeping on the streets.
One of Najja's friends told him about the Retrak centre and how he could have food and shelter there. He decided to go along and see if they could help him get a job. He wanted to be able to look after himself and his little brother.
Najja is now at Retrak Uganda's half way home Tudabujja. He has been having catch up lessons and is doing well at school. He gets on well with the other children at Tuda and works hard. He now wants to return to a family again who can look after him how he has been looked after at Tudabujja.
“I learnt how to do farming, and how to play foot ball. When I go back home I will miss all the mothers in Tudabujja plus the papa and all the other friends of mine."
Najja went to visit his auntie's home but the family was in a needy situation. She was delighted to see him and had been very worried about him. Najja was also able to see his little brother and was amazed at how much he had grown! Retrak saw that the Aunty would not be able to look after Najja as well as her other children.
Retrak got in touch with Najja's Grandmother and they went to visit her. She was amazed at how much he had changed while he had been away from home. She shouted to her neighbours to come and see him. They were amazed and wanted to know how Retrak had found him. The Retrak staff explained how Retrak works with street children and how Najja has come to them for help.
Najja is now living with his Grandmother and his little brother. They are both at school and are very happy being back together as a family. Najja hopes that he will be able to help street children when he is older. He prays that no child will be lonely and alone like he was and is thankful that he will never have to return to the streets thanks to the continued support from Retrak.
Thank you for supporting the work that Retrak do and enabling us to find children like Najja a real alternative to life on the streets.
Paulo lost both his mother and father to AIDS. When his mother had become sick she decided to take Paulo and his brother to live with their fathers sister. There auntie was very welcoming to the two boys even though she struggled financially with her own children.
Paulo’s maternal grandmother would send them money to pay for their school tuition but their aunty would keep the money to help buy food for the family. Paulo and his brother were eventually sent away from school. Paulo knew he had to look after his little brother and make sure he had a good education. He believed that he would be able to make some money if he ran away to Kampala and got a job.
Life in Kampala was very hard. Paulo was forced to sleep on the streets as he had nowhere to go. He tried to collect scrap metal and plastic bottles to earn money but he struggled to make enough money to feed himself. Paulo new there was no way that he would be able to send money home to his little brother. He lived on the streets in Kampala for a year as he was too afraid and ashamed to go back home.
The Retrak staff met Paulo during street outreach and invited him to visit the drop in centre. Paulo went to the drop in centre the next day and was able to have a hot meal and see a nurse. He started to visit the centre regularly to play with the other children and have catch up lessons.
The Retrak staff knew that Paulo desperately wanted to be with his brother again and started to look for a way for him to return home. They visited his aunty but saw that she was struggling to cope financially. They then went to see his Grandmother on his mother’s side and spoke to her about her grandchildren. She was desperate to see her grandchildren and more than happy to take them both in.
When the Retrak staff took Paulo to meet his Grandmother she didn’t recognize him. Other members of the family came along to see the boy that they believed they would never see again. Paulo was delighted to see that his family still wanted him.
The family thanked the Retrak staff and gave them drinks to celebrate the Paulo’s return. His grandmother was very pleased that her two grandchildren would be living with her soon.
Just a week after Paulo had been taken to see his grandmother he was on his way back home. He knew his grandmother and little brother were waiting for him and he couldn’t be happier. The pain of living on the streets was starting to disappear.
Paulo is now back in school and doing well with his catch up lessons. The Retrak staff have been to visit the family and are delighted to report back about how well he is doing.
Thank you for supporting Retrak and enabling children like Paulo to have a real alternative to life on the streets.
Local Support, Global Impact
Retrak Uganda has been working hard to find children a real alternative to life on the streets. With your support through Global Giving Retrak are able to work with children living on the streets and help them discover their potential and realise their worth. This story of Saul shows how your donations to Retrak Uganda are saving children’s lives.
Saul was raised in Wakiso which is approximately 19kms west of Kampala. His mother died when he and his brother were very young. His father remarried and had six more children with his new wife. Saul wasn’t doing very well with his school work and his father didn’t feel it was worthwhile paying for his tuition fees. He was taken out of school so that he could help at home more with the chores.
His stepmother took advantage of the fact that he was staying at home and made him do more work than he was able to. When Saul didn’t manage to complete his tasks his step mother refused to feed him.
One day it all got too much and he decided to run away. His older brother had left home a few years ago and had not returned. Saul ran away and lived on the streets of a nearby town with other street children. He stayed on the streets of the town for a year and a half.
One day Saul was walking with the other street children looking for food when he ran into his older brother. Saul’s older brother had been on the streets for three years. His brother suggested that they should move to Kampala as it was easier to make money in the big cities. His brother taught him how to beg and steal food each day to help them survive.
Saul stayed on the streets with his brother for another year. One day, one of his friends told him about a place that he had discovered where street children could go and play football and eat food. Saul had always loved football and wanted to be able to play again. He went along to the Retrak centre and had his first hot meal for three years. He then joined in with the other boys at the centre playing football and having fun.
Saul continued coming to the Retrak centre and began to learn how to read and write. Soon he could write his name and spell basic words. Saul says he loves Retrak because he can play and have fun. He is excited to start school again and with the help of Retrak he wants to train to be a mechanic so that he can earn his own money and provide for himself.
Through your support Retrak is able to help boys like Saul who have been living on the streets for years, have no education and no real alternative but to beg and steal. Your donations have allowed Saul to hope that there is a future for him and that there is a real alternative to life on the streets.
Fred, an 18-year-old former street child, is an inspirational example of how support from GlobalGiving and dedicated supporters can make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children in Africa who have suffered terrible hardship. The resettlement of Fred is an experience that will stay for some time in Retrak's memory. Fred is from a village called Kalengela in the District of Mukono. He came to Retrak during 2008 but his stay was punctuated by a lot of disappearances. Fred was slow to open up and it took a lot of patience and many counseling sessions before he decided that he wanted to go home.
Moses, Retrak's social worker, recounts what happened when they reached Fred's village: "An elderly lady approached us from a smoke-filled kitchen. She welcomed us and greeted us as tradition dictates. I first observed the communication pattern between this lady and Fred. It was clear that there was something wrong. After listening to my introduction, the lady started narrating to me many stories about Fred and the challenges he had brought to her family. Because of his behavior the family had decided to disown him. It was discouraging to see such a barrier between the child and his family. But deep down in my heart I was with a feeling that since it took a lot of time for Fred to be willing to visit, I had to keep trying. It took about 2 1/2 hours of talking to help Fred's family realize that their son had changed and to look past the stereotype his family had built up. Finally the breakthrough came and Fred was reunited with his family."
Retrak knows that this reunification will still need a lot of support, so Moses and the other social workers will follow-up with Fred and his family both by phone and in person. If they keep moving forward together for the next three months, Retrak will help the family set up a small business to support themselves.
On their recent journey from resettling a boy in Rwanda, Retrak’s social workers followed up on Addae, a boy who had survived on the streets of Kampala for nearly a year before being resettled last year in his original community, a tiny rural village in south west Uganda. He had originally come into contact with Retrak through our Thursday feeding programme and has then stayed at Tudabujja Halfway Home for six months before he was able to be resettled.
His resettlement had not been without challenges. During the time he had been living on the streets, his parents had moved to an unknown location, leaving Addae no hope of being resettled with his family. Undeterred, he said that with 3 months’ room rent and a small amount of capital loaned to him by Retrak, he would be able to start a small business, enabling him to generate a sustainable income and to survive against the odds.
Addae was right. On a follow-up visit, Retrak’s resettlement staff were delighted to discover that not only was he still managing to afford to rent the room but he was also enjoying amazing success in his small business. He had been able to afford a new mattress and bed sheets and had built up a stock of 500kg of beans to sell. On top of this he was trading and growing onions and, most impressive of all, was employing 2 staff to roast cobs of corn by the road side!
Addae’s story illustrates how a small loan of just $50 can make a world of difference to a street child, taking him from struggling to survive on the street to running, in his own words, a “business empire”! This is only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters, so thank you for supporting Retrak and helping us to transform the lives of street children.
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US Country Director