Ten years ago, (it seems like yesterday) I had the privilege of taking a multi-week pilgrimage to Africa with Fr. Jack Lombardi and some friends from Maryland. While in Moshi, Tanzania, we spent a day at Amani Children’s Home. There are many memories of that trip, but our visit to Amani is one that really stands the test of time. Amani means “Peace” in Kiswahili and the center is a place of peace.
I am still on their e-mailing list and received an update this morning. Please read the short story below and think about doing what Abubakar did at age eleven.
Abubakar’s Story: (lifted from the newsletter)
As some of our children leave the Amani Children’s Home for a short ‘likizo’ (school break) trial-stay with family, I’m sitting in my office feeling proud and grateful for the many life changes that you make possible every day. Because of you, we rescue some 8 to 12 children from the dangerous streets every month. And it is your support that gives them safe shelter, and a future.
One example is eleven-year-old Abubakar. Amani found Abubakar on the streets of Arusha when he started visiting our Drop-in Center. Our street educator heard from other children that both his parents were dead and he had run away from his aunt’s home. He wouldn’t discuss his problems or what made him run away. After some time though, he decided to come to the Amani Children’s Home in Moshi full-time.
Abubakar is a very friendly child and our social workers slowly began to piece together the puzzle of why he had left home. Whenever he was asked about his parents he would cry uncontrollably and refuse to answer, convincing everyone that his parents must have died.
Abubakar playing games with social workers in the Amani grounds.
“…his parents were still alive and living in Namanga…”
But then through word-of-mouth, we discovered his aunt who was working in Moshi. She told us his parents were still alive and living in Namanga, on the border with Kenya. Abubakar was taken on a home visit where both of his parents were found, alive and well, along with his younger sister, Amia. They were delighted to see him and the whole community gathered round to welcome him home.
Abubakar ran away because he had been visiting a friend’s house, found a small amount of money on the table and, being a child, he took it. Later when the neighbors told his mum he kept denying it. His mum threatened to tell his dad when he’d get home from work. Abubakar was so scared of being beaten badly by his father that he used the money that day to run away from home. He traveled 109 kilometers (68 miles) – all alone – to Arusha city where he lived on the streets for two months; cold, hungry, and regularly beaten.
This story highlights how a small incident can escalate and a child can end up living in the streets. Though most children run to the streets for extreme and complex family reasons, it is not the first time a child has ended up at Amani from a simple family argument, fear of telling their parents they failed an exam, or from a fight with a friend.
Abubakar reunited with his mother, father and little sister at home in Namanga.
If it were not for your support Amani would not exist to help these children. Abubakar could have easily ended up living on the streets for the rest of his childhood, scraping by and suffering every day. Now Amani will continue to support him and ensure he’s safe, well taken care of, and in school. It is thanks to you that we are able to intervene, rescue these children and help them from Streets to Success.