We are now counting down the days, opening the last few doors on our Advent Calendars and buying last minute presents before Christmas. Christmas is the season of good will, please take a few moments to slow down and read Andrew’s story about being on the streets and how thanks to your support he is with a safe and loving family this Christmas.
Please consider giving a Tribute Card to someone you love. The money from this gift will allow Retrak to help more children like Andrew. Go to ‘Gift’ here - http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-street-children-in-africa/ ...
It was December and Andrew was just 12 years old. He set off from his rural home for Kampala, Uganda’s capital. He didn’t know anyone in the city, but, since his family wasn’t able to keep him in school, he was determined to find someone to help him continue his education.
Like many children who end up on streets, Andrew’s vulnerability stems from poverty and family breakdown. In Uganda more than half of all children are considered to be vulnerable and over 60% do not live with their biological parents. In Andrews’s case it was his father’s drinking and the subsequent beatings that drove his family apart.
Retrak's staff regularly visit the streets and slum areas where many street children hang out in Kampala. It’s on the streets of Kampala that the Retrak staff met Andrew last Christmas. He had been on the streets for almost a year and found street life to be hard and unforgiving; he wasn't able to earn much money and feared for his safety at night. Andrew went with the Retrak staff to the drop in centre where he was able to find a safe space to sleep, get washed, relax and receive a good meal. After a few weeks Andrew joined Retrak’s halfway home, designed to give children the security and care needed to overcome their past experiences and move forward. This was just what Andrew needed. He struggled with anger towards his father. He often retreated into himself and found it hard to accept the love and support on offer. Through a lot of patient counselling, encouragement in class and participation in fun activities, Andrew slowly learnt to forgive his father and to even wonder how he could help his father overcome his addiction.
Retrak accompanied Andrew on a visit to his family. Sadly the situation had not changed and with his family still dispersed there was no home that he could return to. As Retrak supports the goal of the Uganda government and of keeping children in families, the next step was to identify a foster family for Andrew. Although foster care for street children is still rare in Uganda, Retrak’s experience meant that a suitable family was identified and trained. After a few more weeks Andrew was ready to move in with his foster family. They made him feel very welcome and his new brothers were excited to have him as part of the family. With ongoing support and guidance from Retrak, Andrew’s foster family has given him the care and sense of belonging which has allowed him to go from strength to strength.
Thanks to your support Andrew is safe with a loving family this Christmas.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The Retrak Team X
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US Country Director