When planning to go to Jinja, I really wasn't sure what my time would look like. I knew that I had ministry connections there, and wanted to check back in with those guys and maybe volunteer with them. Marlena had arranged that we would be staying with her friend Sera Kasonga at her ministry's house. Sera runs a boy's home, where she has pulled 16 boys off the streets and given them opportunity and protection. I remember walking through the gate at the boy's home the first night we arrived in Jinja; I was greeted with 32 hands and 16 hugs all at once. All the boys were shouting, "Uncle! You are most welcome!" After getting my stuff set down and gathered my bearings, I went back to the living room to sit with the boys. A feeling came over me and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Over the next few days, we were able to sit with Sera and hear her story as well as the story of how the boys home came to be.
Sera was a Rwandan refugee from the genocide that took place there back in the 90's. She fled to Uganda at a very young age. For years, she continued to face one bad situation and circumstance after another. Finally, when she was in her Senior 4 level of school (roughly 10th grade), Sera was introduced to couple from the states. They knew she had a drive to finish school, and also saw that she was beginning to build relationships with these kids on the streets. The American couple wanted to sponsor her through the final 2 years of her schooling. After she finished school, they noticed how impacting Sera had been on some of these street kids that she had been ministering to and spending time with. The couple said they would like to pay for Sera to go to university, but they also gave her the option of opening a home for these boys instead. Sera chose the boys.
Most of the boys have lost their parents due to illness such as HIV/AIDS, and some have lost theirs through tribal warfare. So for these boys, the streets chose them. All of them have a unique story, and through their struggles all have come to know the Lord.
Through our 2 weeks at the home, I really connected with many of the boys. They would all leave very early in the morning for school, before I would wake up. During the day, I tried to visit people I have seen on my last trip to Jinja in 2009. Once the boys got home, either watching the FIFA World Cup, or actually playing soccer were common occurrences. One of my favorite days however was taking the boys swimming. Many of the local hotels have nice pools, and for a fee, they are open for visitors. Marlena and I wanted to treat the boys to a fun afternoon, so we spent about 3 hours at one of the local hotels. Everything at the boys home usually happened on a whim such as playing cards or soccer, and occasionally, I would pull out my guitar and play for them some worship songs.
For me, the boy's home was really about relationship building and trying to show love. Both of those things came very easy because the boys are always giving them. I was just amazed at their response to life in general, given the horrific past many of them have.
Leaving the home was hard because I know the boys experience "Goodbyes" way more than I ever do. I really pray that the Lord will allow me to continue in relationship with them and hopefully see them again some day. Please pray for Sera Kasonga as she continues to help those boys grow and realize the potential they all have.
Please if you have any questions about the Boy's Home, don't hesitate to drop me a question in the comment section!
Hanging out down at The Nile, which is practically the back yard!