Usually visitors to Umuryango first become involved in this ministry after seeing photos of the street children we feel called to serve. Most of the pictures are of little boys with dirty faces and tattered clothing. Often our visitors do a double take when they meet those same children whose lives have been touched with attention and love. They are no longer roaming aimlessly with a band of fellow street children and sleeping wherever they find a bit of shelter without a mother’s good night kiss or a father’s encouraging hug. There is a positive focus now to their daily activities. Children who have spent time living on the streets without rules and structure often find it hard to adjust to the demands of family life and school. Although it can be a struggle after years of receiving no formal education, most enjoy attending school, an opportunity life that Umuryango affords them.
Children learn responsibility by helping with chores at the home and in the village, doing school assignments and attending tutoring sessions. Now instead of begging, they are learning, working and playing. We think their smiles say, “I have purpose. I am valued. I belong.” We are so grateful to our sponsors for their support in helping us serve the 20 children who are currently living at Umuryango.
Like other families, we also face the bittersweet experience of sending the boys off to boarding and trade schools. Presently 10 are enrolled in such schools. Living without the daily contact with the care team is a true challenge for them. We are so happy to report that 16 young men who were once viewed as victims or nuisances are now confidently living on their own and maintaining employment. More than one visitor has cried upon reuniting with the young graduates and seeing how they have developed into responsible men. Although it is fulfilling to witness the educational, physical and social/emotional change that is taking place, the most significant is the spiritual transformation that occurs within them. To hear both the boys and the young men pray and tell about how God has blessed their lives seems to be the thing that touches our visitors’ and our own hearts the most.