When George was seven his mother died. His father was a violent alcoholic so George was sent to live with an aunt. He was frightened and miserable there. His aunt beat him and made him drop out of school. Eventually he ran away.
It took him a week to walk from his aunt’s home to Mwanza. There George got to know the other boys who earned a pittance cleaning buses, selling charcoal and plastic bottles or begging. Overnight the boys would huddle together for protection but George was afraid to sleep. He was in even more danger than he knew. Children sleeping rough in Mwanza are stolen from and beaten. Many are raped. Some are killed. Those who do survive often dull the pain by sniffing glue or petrol.
We brought George to our short-term care home and gave him fresh clothes and his first hot meal in weeks. He stayed with us for two months. At the centre he began counselling to help him recover from a childhood wrecked by abuse, loss, fear and neglect. He told the counsellor he was terrified we’d send him back to live with his aunt. He asked if he could live with his grandparents instead. Eventually we tracked them down.
George’s grandparents were heartbroken to hear he’d been living on the streets. They wanted him to come and live with them at once. Staff from our centre travelled over 300 miles to visit the family to check whether George would be safe and happy with them. We found that George’s grandparents were loving and responsible. Already looking after George’s three younger sisters, they were holding the family together
George’s family wanted him to have an education but they couldn’t afford to pay for it. So we’re giving George and his sisters everything they need to keep them in school. We’re in regular contact with the family and we’re about to give his grandparents business training and a grant to help them earn a more reliable income.
George has been back home for four months now. He told us he thought he’d never see his grandparents or his little sisters again. George is safe. He’s back in school. And he’s got his future back.
There will always be more to do and other children like George. But thanks to you we’re reaching more and more children every day. We need your help to keep on fighting to make sure children on the streets grow up and have a future.