Written by Dr. Gregory Bartha
In mid March 2020 just as the pandemic was about to break out in Uganda,Pastor Simon Peter and I were driving through Mbale in the early evening. He commented on the many boys who were hanging around closed businesses. These were the street children who had no homes and were trying to survive by begging, doing odd jobs, or probably stealing. Most had been driving out of their homes because their fathers had become physically abusive or had remarried, and the stepmothers wanted them to move out of the house. Many were using drugs or inhaling fumes from fuel bottles. They were often attacked by police or security guards. Pastor was very disturbed by this situation and wanted to do something to help.
He contacted some local government officials and relief organizations. All agreed that action had to be taken. With their blessing he gathered up about 100 of these children and transferred them to a secure location. Many were malnourished, had skin wounds and infections, and had inadequate clothing. We started a program of feeding, health care, vocational training, and spiritual development. The transformation of these children has been quite remarkable. They are well disciplined and eagerly participate in training activities.
This project is very expensive to operate. Other organizations are supportive but are unable to provide any funding. Pastor and I have been struggling to keep the programs going. We hope to transfer some of the children to stable homes or to vocational or traditional boarding schools.