We are sad to announce a tragic event that happened this school holidays, involving a sponsored child, Linda, and her brother, Billington.
You may recall reading about Linda, who was sponsored toward the end of last year. Her brother had already been sponsored into boarding school, and to keep Linda safe we found an awesome sponsor in NZ who has sponsored her into boarding school as well. Linda and her brother's home environment was far from safe, with their mother leaving them alone, even at night, to engage in prostitution for a desperately low fee. With her kids in boarding school, Linda's mum was invited to join the women's group in Kids First and was given the resources required to make earrings, which could be sold in Uganda or in our overseas craft markets, for an income. Unfortunately she was not able to engage with this and 'disappeared' during Term 1 this year.
At the start of these school holidays she reappeared requesting to take her kids home for the holidays. Joshua ensured she had a stable place to live at this time, but even though the holidays were shorter than usual (a flow on effect from the recent elections), Billington and Linda were again being left alone at night. In their neighbourhood certain drugs or "witchcraft" is smoked, and neighbours smoking this left the fire going one night. Unfortunately the surrounding houses (read: single room shacks) caught fire. Fortunately Billington woke with the smoke and heat and ran outside to get help. A neighbour was able to get back in their house to save Linda, though she was already burnt. She was luckier than her little neighbour, however: living in a red light district another little girl had been left home alone by her mother, and was killed in the fire.
Linda was rushed to the nearest hospital. Joshua was called out in the middle of the night as the hospital refused to treat unless someone came who could guarantee payment. We are so grateful for the USA branch of Kids First who have sent money urgently to cover the initial costs of Linda's treatment. She has burns to her head and arms and has required surgery for this. Being a spirited young girl, she is coping surprisingly well, but as you can imagine this is a terrifying event for a child to experience.
Billington, meanwhile, is being cared for by an amazing woman - the headmistress of their primary school. She is already caring for another of our kids (Harriet) in the holidays for similar reasons, that her mother is unable to care for her. Linda's mum now has no home to live in. Kids First have rented her a temporary room for one month. In that time we have requested that she seriously consider taking up our offer of counselling and support so that she is better equipped to care for her kids. Time will tell if she is keen to engage in this offer. Meanwhile, we will keep you posted. Prayers for her, and her kids, and Linda's speedy recovery without infection of her burns would be greatly appreciated.
Here at Kids First we all have something to say, so this blog will be updated by members of our team as our work progresses to keep all of you in the loop!