CHILDREN LOSE IN UGANDA

Mar 20, 2012

I am in the process of gathering stories. Some of the stories I am getting through interviewing and some I am living. Both are powerful. As I am interviewing the women of the bead group to get their stories I am seeing a pattern that disturbes me. Many grandmothers are raising their children’s children. The parents are nowhere to be found and don’t help support their children. Many women have left their children to remarry. They have had to make a choice between their children and their new spouse. Seems like most men reject the children of the former husband. Many of the women feel like they need a husband to take care of them so they leave their children to their mothers. At the same time a new wife can reject her husband’s children from his former marriage. The step mother stories I hear make the wicked step mother of the fairy tales very real. The step parents are more scary than being abandoned.
Once abandoned or driven off, the street children have it pretty rough as well. They band together in groups similar to our gangs. The older boys take the money of the younger ones and beat them if they don’t give the their money or if they are playing instead of working the street. It is not safe to sleep at night as that’s when the violence happens.  

Concrete is not very friendly to a good night’s rest nor are the chilly nights without blankets. Rain makes it even more of a challenge. There are organizations help feed street children. And some even offer some medical help. But it is a big problem. Many of the street kids prefer the streets to more restrictive environments but the danger can be deadly. It is tough to know which to fear most; the homes you ran away from or fending for yourself. Looks like the children can’t win! Mothers won’t keep them, step mothers don’t want them, fathers are abusive, the streets are dangerous and orphanages are few since the aids epidemic has left so many parentless kids and there are even still witchdoctors that steal children and sacrifice them
Interestingly enough I just about caused a riot at a parents meeting at the HELP School when I told them we had forbidden the teachers to cane the students. More than 3/4s of them were adament that we could never teach without caning their kids. Supposedly there is a saying that a black man cannot learn without stripes on his back. I thought I would be sick . I hope to show a better way and prove kids can be taught and taught well without being hit!

I know there is another side to this story as there are certainly parents in Africa that love and care for their kids but today I have been submerged in the dark side. The Michael that I wrote about and his 13 year old friend, Derrick, spent the last 36 hours with us. They had been beaten the night before. The adorable 8 year old Michael had a huge lump on his head and was limping. 

Ugh! Derrick had been hit when he tried to stand up for his friend. We could no longer walk away! We kept them with us; fed them, bathed them, bought some clothes and got them shoes and haircuts, made them laugh, cuddled them, listened to their hearts. We fell in love! I’ll write more later when I am not so tired but let me assure you that they both are in better places tonight! We can’t rescue the whole world but each one God brings us is precious.

Pam