Eight year old Jane loves school; she also loves meat, eggs, and talking. Jane often talks about the people in New Zealand whom she says are ‘rescuing’ her. Although she spent less than a year living on the streets of Arua, as she talks about being rescued from that life, Jane becomes distressed and breaks into tears as she recalls the abuse and fear she suffered on the streets.
When her parents died a neighbour took Jane into her home but sent the young girl out during the day, beating her if she didn’t bring money home in the evening. Jane ended up joining a street gang and sleeping on the streets. She would wash dishes at a local eatery in exchange for eating the scraps. She found an area near a bank that was safe for her to sleep; the bank security guard became the only adult who looked out for her, many others abused this vulnerable young girl.
In April 2012, Jane was moved into the Hope Foundation home and six months later she is a different girl. She and the other ex-street children in the home talk about feeling loved by those who are caring for them. Initially, love meant being warm and not fearing during the night, along with full tummies and a balanced diet. Quickly the guys and girls in the home became a ‘family’ - the boys have become very protective of the girls and ‘look out’ for them. The children’s understanding of true love is growing as they experience a loving home and family life.
Jane has a deep longing to be loved. Even in her young mind she understands that it is love that motivates people to help others. She’s so grateful to all who are motivated by the love of God to help her and other children who have had such a dreadful start to life.
Jane has now been resettled with her auntie. She continues to go to school and the Hope Foundation team keep in touch with her.
Although there are organisations working with street children in many of Uganda’s cities, there is little help for the 150 street children in Arua. Unloved, uneducated and unprotected, these children are both shunned and exploited by many in their community. Many die of malaria and typhoid. Many have been sold into slavery in Europe and Sudan.