Children
 Uganda
Project #2202

Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda

by Retrak America

At this time of year, getting through the daily struggle for survival and feeling of isolation becomes even tougher for children living on the streets. While the festive season for many of us is a special time to be shared at home with our loved ones, for homeless children, it is a reminder of two of the greatest gaps missing in their lives – home and family.

Fortunately Retrak is present on the streets of Kampala, providing homeless children with their basic needs and helping them return to a loving family.

One mother said this when she came to pick up her daughter from our center:

"This is a great miracle!! Four years minus seeing my daughter, I did not know that I could get her alive, I thought we were to meet in heaven; thanks be to Retrak. May God bless you with abundant resources to save more lives."

Thank you for your past support of Retrak's project in Uganda. We hope that you'll decide to support us again with an end-of-year donation - a donation that will help a homeless child receive safe shelter, nourishing food, medical attention and care and support. In many cases it will return a street child to a loving family home. Please help us return more children home in 2016.

 

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Retrak supports children outside of family care
Retrak supports children outside of family care

Last October, twenty eight Retrak children and two adults were hit by a speeding car while on their way to play soccer. Ten of the children were seriously injured, four of them critically. Six weeks on, we're pleased to report that all the children have now been discharged from the hospital and are back at our center recovering.

Eight of the children have ongoing appointments with doctors to review their progress and we are pleased to report that seven of them are progressing well.

One child, 8, who sustained a head injury, is making slow but positive progress and may well need further surgery.

The most seriously injured is a 7 year old boy whose leg could not be saved and was amputated above the knee. He was the last to leave the hospital and is now receiving care and support from our staff, and his friends, at our center.

The Retrak Uganda staff have worked tirelessly to care for all of the children involved in the incident, and have been an incredible support throughout challenging circumstances. To help both our young people and staff overcome psychological trauma from the accident, a psychologist is conducting individual sessions with everyone affected and is developing a long-term recovery plans for each individual.

The young boy who lost his leg will be fitted with a prosthetic limb – an incredibly rare occurrence for a homeless child – and we are so very grateful to everyone who helped give him the best possible start to his recovery. He said: “I thank God for sparing my life because I am still alive and everyone who has endeavoured to help me to cope with the situation”.

Another boy who was injured says: “I thought my life was not going to come back to normal, when I recall the time seeing myself in a pool of blood laying on the ground helplessly. But I thank God for the support, time, love and care that the organization showed us, and doctors running up and down trying to save our lives. It put a smile on my face.”

It is only through the generosity of supporters like you that Retrak is able to care for these children, pay their medical bills and hire a psychologist to deal with the ongoing effects of this trauma. This #GivingTuesday, please make a donation to Retrak as we continue to provide long-term medical and psychological support to these homeless children. 

Thank you.

 

Mutubazi receives the 2015 Fergus Moran Award
Mutubazi receives the 2015 Fergus Moran Award

The Fergus Moran Award is the honor given by Retrak to a former street child. It was created to remember 12-year-old Fergus, an avid supporter of our charity, who died after contracting a lung infection in November 2008. Fergus came to know Retrak following a TV documentary on street children, and since his tragic death, Fergus’ family has continued fundraising for our organization in his name.

Recently seven senior staff members met to consider the 2015 recipient. After much discussion about the positive attributes upheld by the children currently attending the three Kampala drop-in centers, staff finally agreed it had to be 12-year-old Mutubazi.

Mutubazi’s story:

Mutubazi was living with his father and stepmother at the time he left home. This was after the separation of the parents when he was young due to domestic violence. Sadly, though his father remarried, the torture and mistreatment from the current stepmother made him feel insecure and afraid and not able to do his schooling, so he felt forced to run away from home. He struggled and suffered on the street in Jinja and, influenced by other street children, decided to walk to Kampala.

While on the street, Mutubazi engaged in difficult behaviors including fighting, sniffing aviation fuel and pick-pocketing. He survived by scavenging and feeding from the bins of busy restaurants in Kampala. His street life was made even tougher after he engaged in a fight with a peer that left his eye damaged. It was at this time that he was brought to Retrak’s Clubhouse for medical support.

A new start:

Since he joined the Retrak program three months ago, Mutubazi has stood out as a smart, kind-hearted, hard-working and an open-minded child. He is also very social with other children and the staff.  At little shy at first, Mutubazi now fully participates in catch-up classes since he is so interested in learning.  

He says at first he struggled with facing up to his challenges at home.  The social workers are counseling his father and stepmother to ensure a safe environment and confirm that Mutubazi can really return to school in his village. Now he's preparing himself to go back home and take on his educational dream. Mutubazi sits on the Children's Council leadership team and also was elected a class monitor in the catch-up class.

Drop-in Center manager Prossie said: “It is not surprising that Mutubazi was chosen for this award. He is a great role model for the other children.”

Mutubazi is a shining example of what a street child can achieve when he or she is given caring support. Thanks to donors like you, Retrak can continue supporting children like Mutubazi and offer them a brighter future.

 

Mercy
Mercy

For many years, Retrak has worked in Uganda alongside a partner organization called Child Restoration Outreach (CRO). Here's the story of Mercy, a seven-year-old girl who CRO helped to return home.

Mercy is the second of three children. Her father died when she was only two years old. After her father’s death, Mercy’s mother lost all of her property, as it was taken by her in-laws. Mercy and her family were destitute, with no source of income and no place to live. Even managing to find a daily meal was a struggle.

Mercy says, “Our condition of living became unbearable day by day and as a result, my mother abandoned me with my aunt and left for Kampala (Uganda’s capital city) to look for odd jobs. For six years, we never saw nor heard from her again.”

Mercy’s aunt also struggled to survive and wasn’t able to care for Mercy or provide her with life’s most basic necessities:

”Hunger and starvation became part of my life” Mercy laments, ”I couldn’t wait to die, so I was influenced by other children to go part-time on the streets.”

Mercy began scavenging on the streets of Mbale, where CRO social workers first encountered her and encouraged her to join CRO.  The social workers were able to trace Mercy’s aunt and resettle Mercy in her home, a rented room in Mbale. Mercy has also joined CRO’s one-year rehabilitation class, which will enable her to develop life skills and enroll in formal education.

Mercy and her aunt are doing well, and Mercy is off the streets and planning a future:

”When I grow up, I would like to become a nurse and help treat people."

Thank you for your support which enables us to reach more and more children like Mercy, offering them a permanent alternative to life on the streets.

Links:

The photo that helped Cyrus find his grandparents
The photo that helped Cyrus find his grandparents

The latest Retrak success story of a street child reunited with his family comes from Cyrus*, a 7-year-old boy from Nanyale village in Eastern Uganda.

Cyrus grew up living with his grandparents, as his mother left when he was young and his father had to work. One summer, Cyrus went to spend his school holiday with his father in Kampala, who would leave him in his neighbor’s care while he worked. Cyrus soon ran away, frightened by a local circumcision preparation dance, known as an ‘Embalu’. Unable to find his way home to his grandparents, Cyrus slept on the streets. He survived by begging for money for food, and when unsuccessful, was forced to scavenge for leftovers from restaurant bins.

But one night, Cyrus and a few of his friends were rounded up by the police, who then referred him to Retrak’s Bulamu drop-in center. Here, Cyrus received care and protection, getting along well with the other children despite not speaking the same language as them. Cyrus was then moved to the Retrak Tuddabujja halfway home, where he told his social workers details about his previous primary school and his grandparents. This crucial turning point gave Cyrus’ social workers hope that he could be returned home.

Anthony, a security guard at Retrak’s clubhouse, went on to visit Cyrus’ village, showing locals a photograph of him in the hope that someone would know where his family could be found. Thankfully, Anthony was in luck. Teachers from his school recognized Cyrus from the photo, and were able to escort Anthony to the house of his grandparents.

On arrival, Anthony presented the photograph of Cyrus to his grandmother, who broke down in tears. “We give thanks to the Lord”, she cried, upon learning that after 6 months of no word, her grandson was safe. She explained how Cyrus’ father had contacted them, petrified he had been kidnapped for sacrifice. After trying all possible ways they could to find him, they were left to fear the worst.

Many children like Cyrus find themselves with no option but to live on the streets, simply because they cannot find or make their way home. Thanks to the support of our donors, Retrak continues to work with young people to retrace their families and return them home.

*Name changed to protect the child’s identity

Retrak
Retrak's Bulamu Drop-In Center in Kampala
Tudabujja - Cyrus
Tudabujja - Cyrus' last stop before returning home

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Organization Information

Retrak America

Location: Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.retrak.org
Project Leader:
Joan Townsend
US Country Director
Washington, DC United States
$65,695 raised of $100,000 goal
 
376 donations
$34,305 to go
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