Monday, April 11, 2011

Please Meet...Hamza! A street child no more!

This is the 2nd installment in my "Please Meet" series. I am so so excited to introduce you to my friend Hamza, a now 18 year old man living in Uganda. Get ready to have your heart warmed and your eyes opened to the reality of life for children who live in the streets as you read his story in his own words!

How did you go from being in a loving family to living on the streets?

I lived with my parents who loved me very much. They worked very hard. My mum passed away when I was about 4 years old.

I was living with my father and he married another woman. When my father was there she was nice to me but when he was away she badly mistreated me. 

She would not feed me and make me sleep outside. 

I told my father but he did not believe me because he only saw her loving me. 

My father worked away from home a lot so I suffered badly with my step mother.

One day she sent me to the markets to get food. I was very hungry. I saw people playing cards saying that I could double my money. I wanted to double my money to get some food for myself. I put all my money on the cards but I lost it. I stayed at the markets all day because I was too scared to go home. 

When I got home my step mother was very angry and she said she was going to kill me. 

When she learned that I did not have what she sent me for she got a big stick and chased me. I hid from her until late at night. When I went back home she was still waiting for me with the stick. That was when I knew she meant what she had said about killing me. 

I had to leave.   I was seven years old.

I walked and walked and walked in the direction that all the cars were going. I did not know what Kampala was like but I knew it when I reached it. 

At first I was happy to be in Kampala but then I started wondering what I would do. I kept walking around. I saw a boy like me and I asked him where I could get something to eat. He gave me something and then left me.

I slept on verandahs and woke up hungry. I went with other street kids to collect bottles and metal scraps. One boy ate food from the rubbish but I did not want to eat it.

I went to local markets and a lady gave me food. I knew that I was a street kid when I started talking to other kids. I had to start eating scraps from the rubbish. 

I lived a good life but it was very hard.

I had some friends who loved me but some kids harassed me when I had money or metal scraps. Older kids would beat me and take my money or scraps. I didn’t like sleeping on the streets because it was always hard to find somewhere to sleep. 

It was very cold and police or security guards would beat you or take you to jail. When it rained was when I hated it most because there was no shelter.

There were a lot of drugs on the street. Whenever I got money I would get fuel to sniff so that I could feel good. I liked it at first but after a while I didn’t like it anymore. 

Those days were very miserable. 

If the police found you doing drugs they would arrest you. 

I was taken to remand homes so many times I lost count. 

One time I stayed in prison for two years. We only got fed once a day and we would have to work from about 4.30 in the morning until late at night. 

(Click Here to read about Sixty Feet and their work in the remand homes of Uganda.)

I escaped with some other boys and went back on to the streets.

When I was back on the streets an older boy told me to stay with him and his friends. They were thieves who entered people’s houses. They used me because I was very small and could get into houses easily. 

One night one of the boys was caught by the owner of a house and was beaten to death. 

For some reason I had known not to go into the house that night so that is when I knew I had to stop. I went back on to the streets and life was very hard.

How did you get off the streets?

One day I was walking in the slums with my scrap metal. I saw all the street kids going to a place where these men were giving them medical care, food and were talking with them. 

I didn’t talk to them the first time but they came back again. 

I spoke to one of the men but he could not help me. Next time I spoke to Uncle Paul. He asked me a lot of questions. I asked him his story and he told me. 

He had a similar story and he told me to believe in myself.

Every time he came to the slums he would talk to me and give me some money. 

One day he told me he wanted to start an organisation. I went with him but it was not established so I left. 

Next time he saw me he convinced me to go back. He constructed a small papyrus structure and that is where I slept. Now I could clean my clothes and look smart.

The organisation grew from nothing. I saw how my life was changing and I decided then I was never going back to the streets. Uncle Paul and Uncle Martin started bringing in other boys and we got bigger and bigger.

The uncles enrolled us in school but it was hard for me because I had only gone to Primary 3. 

I went into Primary 5 and did poorly but I studied very hard and read my books every day. 

By second term I was second in my class and by third term... I was first. 

Hamza receives a new shirt.
I always listened to Uncle Paul because he always told me that I could achieve more than I thought. 

He gave me courage to learn to speak English, from then I always studied hard so that I would come first.

Because of this I was included in a program called ‘Connecting Classrooms’ which operated in UK, Senegal and Uganda. I worked hard in reading and Music, Dance and Drama. Before the end of the year we had an exchange with them and I was selected to go to the UK. 

I told Uncle Paul I needed a passport and he spoke to a sponsor so that I could get one. 

I had a chance to go in a plane something I never thought I would be able to do when I was living on the streets. When I was sitting on the plane I knew that if you believed in something enough you could succeed. 

Now you are eighteen years old and in school at Mackay College! What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

In my future I have two things I would like to be. 

First is a doctor 
                                   and then in my spare time I want to create art

You remember Joyce and Edward from the last entry...
Hamza is pictured here in the red shirt cleaning the wounds of these needy sweet children!

I want to be a doctor to help people who are suffering.

I want to take my message of thanks to the world. I want to thank Uncle Paul. He is my best friend and my only parent I have known to guide me along the way. I want to thank PCA  (Peace for Children Africa: Click here To visit their website) because it has given me so much. I don’t have a lot of materialistic things but I have so much.

I want to thank everyone who has left their countries to come and help us at PCA. 
Hamza having fun!

I hope in the future there are no street kids.

What would you like to share about your faith in God with us?

I am so thankful to the Almighty God for my life and the lives of other street children. Like He said, He knew us before we were born, I will always trust in Him to pave the way for my life!!

God bless you, "Feet2ourFaith" readers and Amy!!

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