>Nights on the streets in Jinja are a world away from the life we know here in the UK. When Nicola and Helen were first setting up S.A.L.V.E. back in 2008, there is one night that sticks out in their mind more than any other.
After a day spent meeting children on the street, they returned to their lodgings as usual. But whilst their day that had been filled with sunshine and plenty of hope for the future, there followed one of the wildest nights in living memory. A storm of huge proportions hit Jinja. The winds raged, lightening flashed and the thunder deafened. And as the shutters were battered against their bedroom windows, all Nicola and Helen could think of was the children they had left on the streets as they came home that evening.
This is one of the most difficult things about S.A.L.V.E.’s work; that however many children we help along they way, there are always more who we haven’t been able to offer assistance to, often due to circumstances beyond our control. And so, when we are unable to bring a child into our house and onto the S.A.L.V.E. sponsorship scheme, we look for other ways in which we can help them.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that one way we do this is through our street clinics where we are able to offer support and counselling to those kids who are still living on the streets of Jinja. But if the circumstances allow it, another crucial aspect of our work is to reunite children with the families thy have left behind. Children take to the streets for a wide variety of reasons, and whilst it is logical to think that they left home because their families no longer want to look after them, this is often a long way from the truth. In fact, many children end up on the streets because they have been searching for family, but don’t know where to start and soon find they have nowhere to go. So whenever we can, we try to bring a child back together with their family. Sometimes this takes a good bit of detective work on our part, whilst at other times this can be very straightforward, as a child will often know where to find their relations but simply doesn’t have the means of getting to them.
This week, S.A.L.V.E.’s Ugandan team were able to help a child in just this way and are currently in the process of restoring a boy called Junior to his family. Junior has been living on the streets for three years now, and desperately wants to be back at home with his elder brother who we are currently searching for. Although this may take a bit of time, we are getting there slowly but surely, having recently traced his grandmother, who hasn’t seen him since he left home. With many other family members to care for, Junior’s grandmother is unable to take him in, but she was overjoyed to see him, and we hope that through her we will soon be able to get Junior back to where he belongs. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any developments in our search for Junior’s family, so do come back to see how we get on.