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Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda

by Retrak
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Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda
Some of the guys enjoying their Saturday!
Some of the guys enjoying their Saturday!

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! 

A few of the amazing Retrak staff members
A few of the amazing Retrak staff members
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Retrak believes children deserve a loving family
Retrak believes children deserve a loving family

Thank you!

 

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:

 

  • Over 200 children were helped to return to a safe and loving family
  • Retrak’s 1,000th child came off the streets and into a home
  • Over 1,200 children were engaged through our outreach activities
  • Retrak’s US office, Retrak America, became a registered 501(c)(3) charity
  • African Union observer status was approved for Retrak
  • 30 boys completed small business training in Addis Ababa and returned to their families or are living independently
  • Retrak began working with street girls
  • Adding to our work in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, a new partnership was formed with a group that works with street children in Tanzania.

 

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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Merry Christmas from all of us at Retrak
Merry Christmas from all of us at Retrak

Seasons Greetings from Retrak to all of our supporters! This holiday season we at Retrak have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the continuing support of our GlobalGiving community.  Your donations over this past year have enabled hundreds of children in Africa to break away from street life and return to a loving and caring family.

This month, GlobalGiving is giving us the opportunity to stretch your dollars even further. During the month of December, if you sign up for a recurring gift, GG will give a 100% match of your first month’s donation. A recurring donation is easy to set up and automatically goes to your credit card each month so you can help provide a steady income for our work without having to worry about making separate donations each month. GlobalGiving is also giving away additional $500 grants! We need at least 10 new recurring donations before the end of the day Sunday, December 31 EDT in order to be eligible for bonus grants. Can we count on you?

 A gift from you can help children like James, who was brought to the Retrak clubhouse in Kampala after having been severely injured. Retrak’s nurse took him to a hospital where he underwent several surgeries and now says “Who could do such an act of favor to a person like me in this city I have lived in and experienced? I thank everyone who supports Retrak to help children like me. I know that Retrak has helped so many children and for this I want to say thank you and may God bless every one.”

We hope you’ll consider making a recurring donation to Retrak so that we can help more children like James. Sign up for a recurring donation here. Be sure to click on the “monthly recurring” option below the large orange “donate” button. Here, you will find instructions on setting up a recurring donation.

Want to give the gift that keeps on giving?  Recurring donations can also be given as gifts! Here, you will find instructions on setting up a recurring donation as a gift or in-honor of someone special.

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

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"Before and After Retrak" drawn by a Retrak boy
"Before and After Retrak" drawn by a Retrak boy

Are you trying to decide what to get your loved ones for Christmas this year?  GlobalGiving is making it easy for you to give an alternative gift to everyone on your list.  

When you make a donation to one of our projects on behalf of a loved one via GlobalGiving, your loved one will receive a personalised card letting them know that they’re helping street children in Africa.  Click here to give a GlobalGiving Tribute Card.

Your gift will help change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children on Earth, like Amos, who hobbled into the Retrak drop-in center after having been in the hospital for the previous month after being shot in the abdomen at a riot that happened in town.

“It was mid-day when I saw a stampede from which the police pursued some people. There was a lot of yelling and throwing of stones at the police by the people who never seemed to respect it at all. The police began shooting and in the process two of my friends were shot and died instantly. In that confusion, struggling to save my own life, I became the next victim. The bullet got me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. The policemen came and got me onto their vehicle and took me to Mulago Hospital.”

Amos was admitted in very critical condition, and in the operating room the doctor learned that both Amos’s small and large intestines had been badly damaged by the bullet and Amos needed a colostomy. Amos had no visitors while he was in the hospital, and he was eventually discharged back to the streets. With nowhere else to go and in great pain, another street child directed Amos to Retrak's drop-in center, where the staff nurse took him to another hospital where he was admitted for a colostomy closure.

Two weeks after his operation in December 2011, Amos could finally smile. From then on, he opened up, became very social with others, more than anyone would ever imagine, and was looking forward to being reintegrated with his family. He was also fond of participating in almost every activity that children do at the drop-in center.

He said, “When I recover completely, I would like to go back home and do a skill in welding. I am sure that from this I will earn some money which I will use to support my family, mostly my mum, with whom we’ve struggled all the way. I will also support my siblings, for instance paying school fees and providing them with scholastic materials as well.”

In April, 2012, Amos went through yet another successful operation and he recovered well.  He was counseled and eventually returned to his family. Since he was trained in bracelet making at the drop-in center, he was given threads and beads so that he could continue with this skill. Meanwhile he is trying to establish a place for training in welding.

Thank you for your support, which has enabled Retrak to give Amos's story a happy ending. To give your holiday gift through GlobalGiving, just go to the project page and select “Gift or In Honor Of” under the large orange donate button.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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Morning chores at Tudabujja, Retrak's Halfway Home
Morning chores at Tudabujja, Retrak's Halfway Home

Last month I had the privilege of visiting the Retrak projects in Uganda and Ethiopia.  It was wonderful to see Retrak's work in action, and to meet the children in our program whose resilience and optimism were truly inspirational. On my visit to Uganda, I spent a day accompanying Retrak social workers as they resettled a boy with his family and I spent another day on follow-up visits to children living with foster families.  Here's a story of one child who was able to resettle with his family with Retrak's help:

Mukisa is 15 years old and had been living on the streets for 3 years.  He had decided to come to the street to look for money to support himself in school.  Living between two parents who separated when Mukisa was only eight made it difficult for him to solve the problems that he faced as a child.

Back in the village, whenever he was sent back home for school fees, he would go to his dad and if he had no money, he would return to his mom. This made him miss a lot of school. “At the end of every academic term my grades would be very low and when I was asked by my teacher to re-do the class my mother said she would not pay for another year in the same class. I decided to quit school and began helping her sell alcohol; a business that she ran at home.” In addition to selling alcohol, Mukisa started working for people in the neighborhood which got him into trouble with his mother, thus forcing him to leave home. He began staying in the nearby trading center. There life was difficult for him since he had to fend for his own meals and shelter. Some days he was forced to work on people’s plantations who would assure him of something to eat like sugarcane and pineapples.

With his other friends, Mukisa decided to move to a new place which he thought had more opportunities. Although he and his friends had never been to Mbarara, which is almost 80km from his village, they had hope that they would survive wherever they went with their skill of befriending strangers. They were certain that it would open doors for them.

"While in Mbarara, I continued to befriend people whom I also helped out by collecting water which they would pay me for. Then I got an urge to proceed to Kampala; a place that I had heard people talk about a lot, both in my own village and Mbarara town. One day I got a job at the Bus Park and this gave me a chance to know the bus fare from Mbarara town to Kampala. The sum was quite big so I convinced a friend who gave me the money with hope that I would pay it back.

“Life got harder especially that very first evening I got to Kampala. I had nowhere to sleep; the city was very big and busy. There was a multitude of people and lots of vehicles with very tall buildings so I decided that I would stay around the Bus Park so I wouldn’t get lost. The following day I tried to move around and I met some children by a big water channel. I stood there and watched them while they chatted, I was afraid of them. One of them invited me to join their band of friends. I went without food the first two days after which I was taught by my new friends how to scavenge in order to get some money. After some time, I was employed by street vendors to help them sell, but sometimes the city council officials would shut us down, load the goods on their pick- up and take them to their safe houses since the business along the streets was illegal. As a result, I was harassed, not paid and called a thief by my bosses. It was very painful to go unpaid after working for a whole month because the commodities were taken by city council authority. One day, I told my friend that I was fed up of living on the street. Sleeping in the water channel (at the sides when the water level was low) duringthe day when we wanted to rest. Sometimes, big boys would steal and run into the channel to hide away from the police pursuing them and everyone in the channel would be
arrested. A friend mentioned that he knew of a place but the decision to stay there would be up to me – the place was Retrak.

“I liked the place so much, though at first I thought that children who stayed there were not from the street because they looked smart. Retrak taught me good manners like working hard, managing my anger issues, how to make friends and how to play football. I no longer get red cards on the pitch as a result of rough play and fighting. Here at the halfway home, I have learned how to care for farm animals and crops; something that I hated so much back at home. Now I have been able to grow vegetables in my plot which Auntie in the cottage where I stay has helped me to sell. Since I earned some money from selling the vegetables, I am very eager to do the same thing when I go back home. I have developed an interest in farming and will carry on with it when I get back home. I was also short tempered. Because of this I got red cards on the playground during soccer games but now I have learned how to
control my anger and have more friends. While on the streets, I got addicted to drugs; but thanks to the Retrak workers who continuously encouraged me and helped me to overcome sniffing fuel, I have been able to resist the temptation. I love my garden at the Halfway Home and I wish I would go home with it. God bless Retrak and all the people who fund it to teach children like me good habits.”

Mukisa’s character and attitude have tremendously improved. The Residential Care Worker he was attached to at the halfway home is sure that he will be very helpful to his family when he goes back. Mukisa is now at home and his family were very excited to receive him. The social workers will follow him up soon to check how the child is settling
in.

Thank you for your continued support, which makes our work with children like Mukisa possible.

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Organization Information

Retrak

Location: Cheadle - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @retrak_charity?lang=en
Project Leader:
Priyanka Zacharias
Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom
$78,424 raised of $100,000 goal
 
492 donations
$21,576 to go
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