As Samuel came running up to meet me, I was overcome by the intense joy flowing from this delightful child! My heart broke for Samuel and his family when I first heard of the tragedy which left five children on their own. His oldest sister, Shamira, was sponsored by Hope Africa International at the time when her father passed away from HIV. Devastated, her mother struggled to care for the children while fighting the disease herself. A few years later, Shamira and her siblings lost their mother, and it seemed they had nowhere to turn. But thankfully, their cousin stepped in to care for them, and all of the children were sponsored immediately. Hope Africa International has been diligent to assist with food for the children on top of our commitment to pay school fees, uniforms and medical care. However, our greatest challenge has been to find a solution for sweet Samuel, a special needs child who was unable to walk, speak any words or take care of himself at all until he was seven years old. Now, this boy is speaking words, walking, running, and taking on more and more with his self-care.

While he has made great strides through the hard work of his siblings, schools in Kapchorwa have refused to allow Samuel to attend. They insisted we send Samuel to a care facility for special needs children, but the last thing we wanted to do was to place Samuel in an institution where he could be potentially neglected, abused, and separated from his loving family. Most importantly, if something happened to Samuel, he would not have a voice to tell us! After weeks of prayer and discussion, our Ugandan staff discovered an answer in a wonderful friend of Samuel’s family. This woman loved Samuel from the moment he was born, giving of herself to help them whenever she could. She offered to become Samuel’s caregiver, and they will be traveling to a center in Mbale where she will be trained on how to help Samuel to learn!

Hope Africa International seeks to provide assistance to families, both biological and foster, so that children do not have to be institutionalized. Why do we do this? Because, institutionalizing children can have extremely tragic consequences such as abuse, exploitation, or neglect. Even in the best of situations, children growing up in institutions are more likely to suffer from attachment disorders, mental illness and depression. We believe that supporting families by providing for their children is the healthiest solution to overcome the cycle of poverty. Thank you, sponsors, for joining with us in keeping Ugandan families together through sponsoring children!