We started January 2018 concerned about the need for larger premises and when I returned to Uganda in the New Year (2018) the house in front of George’s Place was available for rent. An answer to prayer! This is now referred to as the ‘extension’ – a hole was made in the adjoining outside wall, with permission from the landlords, for easy access. The older boys sleep in the extension with one of the wardens and also those returning from vocational training or boarding school in the holidays use it as a base. It’s not as big as George’s Place but has a large open space in front that Anton put to good use growing spinach and tomatoes and there is also room for playing basketball. There is a quiet room, store, and table tennis in the garage. This is a real blessing – with outside latrine and shower room and two inside toilets. The boys still all eat, watch TV, and play board games together in the main house. There are ‘boys quarters’ outside which we have turned into a clinic for any sick boys but so far this has been unnecessary – but is a requirement by the Government.
We now have 22 boys with us – four new ones this year – Haruna, Charles, Kiseeta James and Joshua. We were approached by an organisation who had found Haruna with a bad skin rash – they didn’t have any accommodation but had cleaned him up, given him new clothes and sent him back on the streets. I sent Bob to look for him and he came back with three boys! Haruna and two others.
When we visited Tororo to try and find a boarding school for Saviour near his home the police gave us his brother as they were concerned for his safety consequently Saviour and Joshua are here together and attend Maranatha Christian School with our 10 younger boys.
Two of the older boys have left and sadly three of our younger boys left not long after they had returned from the August holidays with their families. One is making and selling chapatis not far from here, another is back with his family and Shaffick is back in Kisenyi – everyone misses him as he is such a character.
This terms school reports were all encouraging as the boys seem more settled and are working hard – some amazing results with Musumba first in his class, Brian third and Saviour third in Top Class – everyone is behaving well. Most of the boys return to their relatives during the school holidays.
We have now had the required number of Management Meetings and information to apply for ‘Approved Home’ registration and our application went to the Ministry of Gender in December.
In March we had a graduation celebration for our four older boys and following the International Day of the Street Child in April we all attended Parliament to listen to a debate on the plight of these children in Uganda. Unfortunately after waiting two hours the boys were getting fidgety so we left before the debate was postponed! We also visited the zoo this year and an evening at the Ndere Cultural Centre was enjoyed by us all.
We have had visitors – Jackie coming at the beginning of the year, Sue returning with me in May, Helen coming for a week after her visit to DRC and Martin in December, as well as the Emirates flight crews calling in on several occasions.
We have obtained nearly an acre of land in Ibanda near Anton’s home village and he is planning to grow gnuts, maize, Irish potatoes and tomatoes – hopefully we’ll enjoy some of the produce. Augustine finds building work in different places but returns here for holidays quite regularly.
Looking forward – God has blessed our work and we seek His will and guidance for the future. It is very important for us to be registered as an ‘Approved Home’ and we also need the right structure in place to help the older boys as they finish their courses to establish themselves in the work place, possibly starting up small businesses. At present we see 2019 as a year of consolidation making sure we are properly registered, caring for the boys and their education and establishing the older boys in the work place, but the Lord’s way is full of surprises and so we watch in joyful anticipation of what His plans are for 2019 – so we ask for continued prayer that we are guided in God’s way as we hold onto his promise to be with us.