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!
Why are these kids 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 Zergaw's school to 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. Be sure to make your donation early, as matching funds will run out quickly.
Madi was seven years old when his parents separated and he went to live with his father. At age nine he left home in search of his mother, and began his life as a street child in Kampala. Two years later, he found his way to Retrak and began a journey that took him to Tudabujja, Retrak's Halfway Home and Farm, and eventually brought him back home. Here's his story in his own words:
"I heard a rumor that my mother had gone to Kampala so I decided to run away to Kampala to look for her. I was only 9 years old and had no money for transport or understanding of the distances involved. It took me four days and four nights to reach a suburb of Kampala. Here I met Emmanuel, a street child who showed me where other street children slept.
"I spent two weeks with Emmanuel who taught me how to scavenge scrap and plastic bottles to earn money and how to survive. Life on the streets was harder than what I had run away from. We had to steal to eat and the police and public were all against us. We were wanted, abused and called thieves. I learned bad habits on the streets such as stealing drugs, swearing and eating from garbage. I became arrogant, hard-hearted, fearless, aggressive and disrespectful."
Other children told Madi about Retrak, and he decided to take his first step towards a new life:
"The staff at Retrak was welcoming and offered us services such as food, classes and counseling. After spending time at Retrak's drop-in center, I moved to Tudabujja. I received more counseling, care and love, and this helped me to stop being aggressive and relate well to others. I was able to receive education and I began to really want to return home.
"I traveled with a Retrak social worker to my old home and when I got there I knelt down and cried. Retrak worked with my father and aunt to ensure that I would be accepted and safe. When I heard that, it was like a dream. God had answered my prayers. I thank Retrak for the love, care, patience and counseling it has given me. I now have hope for a better future."
Just as Madi is thankful to Retrak, we at Retrak are thankful to you for your support, without which our work with street children would not be possible. Please consider signing up for a recurring donation to ensure that our work can continue.
Dear Retrak Supporter,
As 2013 draws to a close, all of us at Retrak want to thank you for supporting our work with street children in Africa. Retrak has had an eventful year; we expanded our programs into Malawi by partnering with an organization called the Chisomo Children’s Club in Blantyre, and we continued to reach more and more street children and their families through our programs in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. With your help, we’re coming closer to realizing our vision of a world where no child is forced to live on the streets.
On the eve of returning home to his family earlier this year, one child was moved to write a letter to a Retrak teacher, thanking him for all that he had done to help him return home. In this letter (reproduced below), he thanks “all the Retrak staff members” for our work. I’d like to pass his thanks on to you, our supporters, for making our work possible.
Wishing you the very best in 2014.
US Country Director
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US Country Director