The Shelter was opened in 2015 in Gganda, Uganda. It is a transitional home for runaway children who have been living in the Kisenyi slum area of Kampala. Boys (ages 9 to 15) are brought from the slum to the Shelter for rehabilitation, education and improved health and mental stability. The Shelter houses 14 boys who stay for a period of approximately three months. The staff includes a director (Aron Bakka), a Manager, an Assistant Manager and a Housemother. The facility includes a Classroom for daily classes in basic Math, English, Social Studies and Bible. The boys assist in maintaining the property and are responsible for doing their own laundry, caring for the chickens, cooking meals, washing dishes and helping each other with homework (some have never been to school). They greatly enjoy playing soccer after classes and volunteers who teach them music, art and local craft making.
This is from one of Kathy’s Blog Posts: One little boy said how much he loved the food that the Housemother cooked. He said he loved spaghetti and they used to have it at his home (oh not with meat sauce, it’s just boiled noodles here with a few specks of tomatoes and onions) but he wasn’t allowed to have a serving, he was only allowed to scrape up what was left at the bottom of the saucepan. Now, he is absolutely thrilled to have all he wants on a regular basis! Something so small can make a child so happy, it makes us happy!
Then a boy told us about his past. This story weighs heavy on my heart and I can’t shake it. He said his father died before he was born (this may or may not be the case, it may be just what his mother told him.) Apparently his mother did not want to care for him, so one of her sisters took him in. When he was about 8, she decided that she no longer wanted to be responsible for him and took him to his father’s father, his grandfather. The man told him: “I have no way of knowing if you are my son’s child, so you cannot stay here.” The boy replied: “I am only a little boy, I have no where to go. I cannot prove if he was my father…..what do you want me to say, what do you want me to do, where do I go?” The man’s response was: “I don’t care where you go, just go away and leave me alone.” So the boy went to the streets of the slums. He started crying as he was telling this story, and my heart broke. I hugged him hard and Hassan wiped his tears, but no one can erase the pain of being unwanted and alone, completely alone at 8 years old. Sometimes I just what to shake my fist in the air and scream “What’s wrong with people?” He’s not the first boy to tell such a tale, and I’m sure he won’t be the last. I pray that my heart will never harden and that I am always moved to tears when one of them breaks his silence and tells us how much he hurts.