Emma and Jude…Two Friends Who Lost Their Way!
Emmanuel and Jude found their way to Kisenyi together. They never intended to leave home, let alone become street kids. One Sunday afternoon during the annual circumcision ceremony that takes place in their village, these two young boys got so wrapped up in the festivities that they lost their way. Not able to find their way back home, they somehow made it to Kampala, ending up in the slum of Kisenyi. They say they have been on the streets since 2015, and both want nothing more then to go home.
When I first encountered Emmanuel, I along with a few others mistook him for a girl. I think it had something do with the pink onesie he lived in. I became fascinated by him as he wandered around in the African heat wearing his flannel pajamas. It took him a while to warm up to me, but once he did he was determined to get me to buy him a pair of ngatoo (Luganda for shoes). And his persistence paid off; I purchased him a new pair of flip flops ... for which he couldn't thank me enough. Unfortunately, he was only able to hold on to them for two days before they were stolen from him. Now my poor little Emma is back to being without shoes.
Thievery is a constant occurrence among the children of Kisenyi. A child must learn quickly how to survive. The strong ones prey on the weak; the minute someone closes their eyes or lets their guard down, there is always someone there just waiting to take advantage of the situation.
Forever high, this 10-year-old boy walks around in a haze all day from sniffing glue. It's heartbreaking to see a child so beaten down at such a young age. There is an inquisitive mind and kind soul trapped inside this shell of boy. Emma deserves to have a childhood before it too late.
EMMA'S STORY: I am 10 years old. I came from Mbale, but I don't recall any information about my home. I stayed at home with my mother, grandfather and siblings, though I don't recall anyone's name. I didn't leave intentionally. I left home on a Sunday not sure of the year. I studied up to primary three before leaving home. All I wish to is be a pilot — nothing else.
Jude stood out. From the moment I laid eyes on him I could tell, this kid did not belong here. After spending just a few minutes with him I knew — Jude belongs in a classroom. He is always working, collecting bottles, doing whatever he can to make a little money. He does his best to take care of his things; he is meticulous. He holds on to his belongings for dear life, always fearing someone will take them. He refuses to spend time with me until he has showered and put on clean clothes.
While Emma is constantly asking for new shoes, Jude can't stop asking to go back to school. The majority of the kids I meet tell me they want to go to school — but when Jude says it, he really means it. And this boy should be in school. Great things are in-store for Jude; we just need to get him out of Kisenyi and back with his family so that he can return to the classroom where he belongs.
JUDE'S STORY: I am 14 years old. I came from Mbale district Nankusi village in 2015, though I can't trace the way back home by myself now. I followed the circumcision traditional celebrations to Mbale and later from Mbale to Kampala with my friend Emmanuel, who is here in Kisenyi with me. My parents are Mulokore Merry and Ongaire Charles, mother and father respectively. I don't recall any of my siblings for now. I stopped studying in primary seven. I don't think of anything else apart from resuming school.
Why street kids aren't trusting
Many of these children are not very trusting. One must prove themselves worthy, which is understandable. The majority of adults who enter their lives come and go; many make empty promises, others abuse them both mentally and physically, while some use them for personal gain. These kids are smart ... they can see right through you. They know who's genuine and who is not.
They deserve respect, kindness, love and protection. I am honored and humbled that these children have accepted me and allowed into their lives. My world is a much better place because they are in it.
You can help
Jude and Emma should not be living on the streets. They should not be addicted to sniffing glue. And they most certainly should not be out of school. Jude and Emma should be with their families, enjoying their childhoods.
We want to rent a house so we can move Jude, Emma and 18 other street kids out of the slum and into our rehab center. Donate now to help us cover the cost of beds, sheets, mattresses, bath products, clothes, and so much more.