Through Melissa's Eyes
In December of 2008, I was given the opportunity to travel to Jinja, Uganda and volunteer with GIVE International. During my time there, I met and became good friends with Henry Wanjala, a local Ugandan. Each day as I walked down the streets, I saw children begging for money or food. Their clothes were torn, their faces were dirty, and they appeared to have nowhere to sleep. Each time I passed them and looked into their eyes, my heart longed to somehow help them.
One day I met a number of boys playing soccer, and they invited me to play with them the next day. From then on, I met with the boys daily at lunch to play football, share food with them, and to talk with them. As our relationships grew, the boys became more comfortable and were willing to share their stories with me. What started out as 'just hanging out' turned into a life-time mission: To find a way to change these boys' lives. The question was HOW?
On my last day in Jinja, I asked Patrick, one of the boys, "If there is one things I can do before I leave, what would it be?" He immediately said "I want to go to school." And The Sanctuary was born...
Through Henry's Eyes
When I first met Melissa, I was working at an Internet Cafe in Jinja where I did custodian
work. She asked me to come and play football with the boys and to act as a translator
for some of the boys who didn't know how to speak English. As time passed, I felt
a strong need to make a difference in their lives. When Melissa asked me to be
responsible for administrating payment for five boy’s school fees, I agreed.
As I continued to work with Melissa, we took it to the next level of becoming a community based organization (C.B.O) while helping to take care of the boys with the extra help of my friend Alex, who jumped into it with passion. At this point in time, Alex and I were in high school together. We continued to work together to mentor these boys into better people. I am grateful to be part of the amazing work that continues to change street kids into great people with impact.
We started with 5 boys, and then moved on to 8 boys, mostly paying for them to go to school. After a couple of months we soon realized that while we were meeting SOME of their needs, we were not meeting their needs as a WHOLE. And this is where Tom came in...
Through Tom's Eyes
It was August, 2009 when I arrived in Uganda with the same agency as Melissa, and I was visiting several GIVE projects when I met Henry. He was working as a volunteer for GIVE and he approached me to come and meet some street boys he and Melissa were caring for in Jinja. We got some snacks and soft drinks and sat in a circle to listen to the boys' stories. The stories threaded their way through different parts of Uganda, telling of tragedy and heartbreak as families were torn apart by war, famine, AIDS and alcoholism. Each boy had lost one parent and some both. They had made a pact that whatever they got from begging on the street they would share.
Henry placed them in a slum apartment, which was all he could afford. It was a long, red dirt and stick building, and their apartment was 10 x 12 feet, with no windows and three straw mats on the floor. There were large rat holes the size of a softball in the corners, and the rats would enter during the night biting their feet and legs.
That is when my calling to help these young boys to find a better place was born. We got an apartment of three rooms we filled with bunk beds and blankets, sheets, tables,chairs a gas burner and refrigerator over time and most of all three good meals a day.
And then God intervened in a mighty way...........................................
Where Are We Now?
As of December 2010, The Sanctuary was able to purchase a house in Bukaya, a village just outside of Jinja. The Sanctuary family now includes 14 boys between the ages of 13-21 and three staff - Henry, Alex and George. All of the boys attend school, and assist with daily chores to maintain the household. There is a chicken coop on the property which houses both layers (for eggs) and broilers (for meat).
Now we have a real home, a home of safety, laughter and joy. We have a tutor for some of the boys who have little education and to help them with homework. Life is good, God is good and now that International Teams has taken us under their wing, our hearts are full of hope and happiness where tragedy once drove these children to the streets.
God has richly blessed us since The Sanctuary began, and we look forward with eager anticipation to what He has planned for its future!
Our Uganda Address: Our Canada Address:
P.O. Box 1365, 376 Green Acres Drive
Jinja, Uganda Waterloo, Ontario
Email address: email@example.com