Kate E. and Holly here! Oli otya (how are you)? The team is gyendi (good). Today was our first day at street reach. Street reach is a program run by Abaana for kids who live on the street to come and have a place to be a kid and to get a meal. These are boys who literally live on the streets, or live in the slums. Many of them have come from abusive homes where they have had no choice but to runaway. Everything they own is precious to them because it is all they have. As mentioned earlier, some of the boys struggle with drug use and addiction. They sometimes turn to drugs to numb pain or because they are just so hungry. It was not unusual to see boys doing drugs and huffing oil when we saw them today (they were either taken away by staff or asked to leave the program).
Something that really hit us was when Shannon, David, and Holly were reading some bible verses to the boys when a group of men from the city council showed up at the top of the hill where Street Reach happens. One of the uncles who was interpreting for us told Shannon and Holly that they arrest or beat the street boys. Fortunately, he told us that they couldn’t do anything while because they were at a program, but if they ran they could arrest them or beat them. The initial reason why they were there was because there was a man cooking/selling on the street when he shouldn’t have. They ended up arresting him; it turns out that this man actually physically abused the boys so they were happy that he was arrested. We were really upset by the fact that the city council/police beat or arrest them because they’re just kids who’ve been dealt a difficult hand. They’re not necessarily looking to make trouble, but they are just trying to survive and the government is not helping them at all to do that. It’s just not fair that they have to run from the people that you would think would protect them. They are being robbed of their childhood and what they go through is unimaginable but for them it’s real life.
Although today was difficult, God did show up. One of the boys was led to Christ (Emberli will explain more in another post), and another (who is Muslim) got to talking to Jansen and is interested in learning more about God.
We were excited to reunite with our new family at the New Life Homes today. We led small group discussions with them on the Beatitudes and we were really impressed with everything they knew. Some of them could have easily led the discussion themselves! Despite how much they do know about God and the Bible, some of them doubt what they do know. Pray that they will have the courage and not be afraid to speak out and to tell others of the hope they have. (PS—all of the boys, not just the ones at the home, have such BIG dreams! Pray that they will have the opportunity to fulfill these dreams).
Two really funny things that happened today with some of the boys from the homes. First, Amanda wanted us to mention that she was reunited with 2 of her good friends from last year, Michael & Jared. When we were leaving, Holly was on the bus and he/everyone came to the windows to say “see you tomorrow” again to all of us, and Michael asked Holly if she knew Harry Potter. I (Holly) said, “yeah, I love Harry Potter!” He came back later and asked again and I told him, “yeah! We grew up together!” His immediate response was something along the lines of “You grew up with Harry Potter?!” He was shocked and couldn’t believe it (but he did, haha). I told him that it was a joke and he just laughed, and we did too.
The other thing happened on the bus on the way back to the house we are staying at. Two of the boys came with us because they are sick and we took them to the clinic (Their names are John Paul and Moses). Moses is a character. He told us he had a really funny story to tell us. When we got on the main road, he started to tell us how when he was younger he lived on that street. They call white people “muzungus”, and he told us that every time a bus with white people came by he would yell “muzungus!” like most Ugandans. He also told us that he used to think that “muzungus” ate black people. When a group came out, he would run away, and he said that he told his sister that if he ever saw one, to run away. Thankfully, now that’s he’s been at the home, he knows that we do not eat people. He said that the first he met just hugged him and that it was part of our culture and that he loved us. We were all cracking up by the end of the story.
Just one quick thing to add…a lot of you have asked or are probably wondering where the girls are. Unfortunately, most of them are in hiding or being kidnapped and being trafficked as sex slaves. When girls are on the streets they are much more vulnerable than the boys are. This is another thing that just breaks our hearts. However, Abaana and Calvary Chapel Kampala are looking into starting homes for girls.
A few other random things…storks are the ugliest birds ever. These are the birds that supposedly are the ones that bring babies to their families, but they are so gross looking and they are GINORMOUS. Also, rolex is delicious. We’re not talking about the watch, it’s Ugandan food and it’s made from chapte (basically a fried tortilla…but not…because we’re in Uganda…) with fried eggs and more chapte. The pineapple is the bomb dot com.
We have officially been up way too late, so sula bulungi (good night)!