There is a boy in our programs named Enoch. He is a big sweetheart, he is around 8 or 9 years old and has a big smile with gaps where he is waiting for his new teeth to grow back in. He doesn’t enjoy fighting and loves giving gifts. He will hang out at the house all day, just so that he can see me and hang out. I have cherished all of the special time that I get to spend with Enoch silently trailing beside me- I love him so much. He will often come running up to me with a gift of a necklace, or bracelet or food that he has been saving just for me.
Last week he had said that he wanted to go home to his family. I was delighted and we arranged to take him right away. Jessie, David, Sebestian and I were all preparing to take him home together (he is a special kid!) Tuesday morning when Jessie stopped me and asked me if I knew why he had run away from home. “No” I replied, feeling a little bad that I hadn’t asked him.
“Abby I just wanted to warn you, I know you love him a lot. He says that his mother took him to the police and told them that he had stolen a cell phone. That they should put him in prison and when he got out to just drop him off on the street, that she didn’t want him anymore. I don’t know how things are going to go when we get there…”
I mentally prepare myself for the next 5 minutes and then we set off on bodas (motorcycles) to his house. He lives in a slum in Kampala some distance away and as me, him, and our driver are whizzing around Kampala, with everyone else behind us, he takes us the longest possible route home to his house that he can.
We reach his house, a small room in a slum and find his mother, aunt, father (or maybe uncle) and several of his siblings at home. Enoch is silent and timid as he approaches. His mother dressed in a skimpy shirt and skirt, is nothing but angry to see us.
“We don’t want you here! You will just run away! You do this, you do that! Why did you come! Can’t you see I have other kids to feed here!...”
At this Enoch turns around and begins to cry which makes her even more angry.
“Why are you crying! Did I beat you! What is wrong with you! You have bad manners! These people here are going to get tired of you just like we did with your manners!” She goes on and on while either the father or uncle beside her continues repeating over and over,
“Stay outside. Sleep outside. You must like it. Sleep outside.”
Finally his mother calms down, David asks her if she can accept to stay with him, that it is what her son is wanting. Over time she says she can try it, even though she knows he will just run away again. When we ask Enoch if he accepts, his eyes grow wide with fear as he slowly shakes his head no. No, he would rather sleep on the streets. I pull him aside and whisper why and he tells me that she will just wait until we leave and they will all beat him. I believe him. If it were me, I wouldn’t chose to stay either. We say goodbye to his mother and leave. We take Enoch back to the streets and walk with him to street children programs that are just starting. The other boys ask him what happened, that they thought he had gone home, he doesn’t say anything but remains silent.
It is around 7 pm in the evening when I get a call from a boy in our programs named Richard:
“Hey Richard! How are you?”
“Babirye, I’m not okay. They beat me, I’m hurting”
“Wait, who beat you?! Richard who beat you, are you okay?”
“The police beat me, they beat me really badly-”
The phone cuts out at this point, I try calling him back but it doesn’t go through, it seems his phone is off or dead. I call uncle David to see if he can go to the church and look for him. He is not there. A little while later Richard calls me again and tells me that he went to see his family and that he will recover. I tell him I’m worried about him and will pray for him.
Richard is called, “Jajja” or “Mze” by just about everyone that knows him. It means grandfather or old person. He looks, acts, even walks like an old man. He is one of the most gentle and fragil people that I know, in all of the time that I have known him, I have never so much as seen him raise his voice at someone- even when being relentlessly taunted by younger street kids. He is caring, loves to learn, and loves God so much.
It wasn’t for a couple of days until I saw Richard again in our street programs. He has a nasty scab going around his entire neck, bite marks on his legs and is bruised on his body. He WAS beaten badly. He tells me that the police had taken a wire, tied it around his neck and pulled at both ends. They had put an attack dog on him and beat him. He had been doing nothing wrong either, he hadn’t stolen anything, hadn’t fought anyone (just the thought of him trying to fight anyone is ridiculous), hadn’t insulted anyone, nothing. They had just said that he shouldn’t have been walking around so late at night ( 7 pm ).
A few days after that program, Jessie and I were in a crowded market called Owino when who do we meet witnessing to a group of women selling shoes but Richard. His scar is still blazing across his neck but he doesn’t seem to care. He is holding up his bible and talking about the goodness of God
We just put our paperwork through for A Perfect Injustice so that we can have our own non-profit. We chose the name A Perfect Injustice because street children are A Perfect example of Injustice and God hates injustice, especially against the fatherless and widow. I can’t wait for our paperwork to go through so that we can have our land and expand right away. There are so many broken hearts walking and sleeping here on the streets of Kampala. I am truly blessed to be called by God to do the work that I am doing. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.