Mary and Ismail are from Uganda. In February, Mary saw some kids perform in town for fundraising for stationaries. She was intrigued by them. She noticed an eight-years-old boy, Kiddi, collecting contributions. She walked to him and asked him for their leader. Kiddi took him to Kamya Ben, who shared their story with Mary.
The kids were from Nation Infinity Foundation- a home for street kids founded in 2019 by Ibrahim Katenda; The kids called him Papa and Ibrahim was himself a street child until he was rescued by John Sserunjogi, who educated him and mentored him. When John died, Ibrahim felt the need to take on his legacy of saving a child in need and taking them off the street like he was. He wanted to fulfill the dream of his guardian, John, and started feeding street kids and picking them up despite not having enough funds during Covid-19 from March 2020.
The story touched Mary’s heart, and she instantly felt the need to do something for them. So, they prepared to pay a visit to Ibrahim and the kids. The whole family was excited, and every member of Mary’s family contributed to the effort. From organizing clothes drive to buying stationaries, it was a collective effort. The family mobilized funds and themselves. Mary says, “Susan was in charge of gathering the clothes and shoes from the different people that promised to give us, myself (Mary) was in charge of buying the scholastic materials...My husband was in charge of buying the foodstuffs, buying laundry soap and organizing transport. Phiona and the kids organized the items and packed them.”
Finally, on 27th March 2022, Mary’s family drove to the Foundation in Makindye. They received a warm welcome from the kids and were delighted and cheerful. They spent time visiting the home and talking with Ibrahim and the kids, with the kids performing for Mary’s family.
Mary recalls, “It was a cheerful day with lots of performance dancing, acrobatics, speeches, we danced with them it was a fun packed day.”
Mary’s family shared words of hope and encouragement with the kids. Most of the kids at the shelter homes didn’t have parents or abusive parents; hence, they found “peace” at the shelter. The youngest was five years old, abandoned on the streets with no mother and father, and picked by Ibrahim.
Ibrahim started with five boys in a one-bedroomed house and now has 40 kids. During their conversation, Ibrahim said, “I know I don’t have much to give, but I feel the only thing, my mentor/guardian, Mr. Sserunjogi gave me was talent in music, dance and drama, so it is the only thing I can give you.”
Ibrahim mentioned that after food, a proper shelter was their biggest challenge. The temporary structure the boys lived in leaked when it rained. They also struggled to generate enough funds for kids to go to school.
Hearing these stories, Mary offered to pay for the school fees of a child of their choice. Mary’s family learned valuable lessons on carrying on legacies and how helping one person can bring ripple effects. They learned that despite having nothing, each one of us can do something to help others in need. They were inspired by Ibrahim and Late John, who picked him off the streets. Their family volunteering created new relationships and brought them together as a family strengthening their bonds.
Reflecting upon their experience, Mary’s family reflects, “As a family, we learn that it’s always good to share the little you have, so you can give hope and love to the community to feel that someone out there cares”.
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