I want to be like Rusty! Who? Rusty Taylor?
My dad's birthday was last Tuesday, March 4th. I wrote a quick post on FaceBook about how I was spending his birthday, but I wanted to share here on the blog as well.
Here's the Story...
It started a few weeks back. Uncle Geof (street program uncle) and I were assigned to resettle one of our street boys, Iriama Mattiya. Our assignment was to take him back to Jinja, find his family, gather some information, and hopefully leave him there to remain with his family. He had told us that he did not like the streets, but had a loving family back home.
Here is the story…Partly from the report and some details I have added for you...
"Iriama came to the streets of Kampala during Term 1 of the 2013 school year because of poverty in his family. His mother is a widow with 6 children. She works some in the nearby town as a house cleaner (cleaning an entire house for about $0.40 per house), and sometimes gathers charcoal to sell. While at home, Iriama would receive some small meals at school during the day, but he was not receiving proper meals in the evenings or on the weekends. His mother is very sick and earns very little money to take care of the family. First, Iriama ran to Jinja town, and then met 9 other boys living on the streets of JInja. From there, the 10 boys walked together to the streets of Kampala. (80km/50miles)
Iriama was one of our smallest guys… here are some photos of him on the streets… I hope they translate how tiny he is.. He has a precious smile, but don't be fooled. They really bring the smiles out when we bring cameras… he was extra happy and smiling with me this day… Plus, my iPhone was on the reversal view so they were actually able to see themselves in the screen...
Iriama’s mother and sister were reunited with him in the office. The mother fell to the floor and grabbed her baby boy down into her arms. She held him while tears streamed down both of their faces. Both the mother and boy were happy to see each other. But we needed to push on to see the boy’s home. This is when we were able to ask the mom questions about her family and her life.. This is when we learned that she is a widow, with 6 children, and is very ill (they suspect HIV/AIDS but no tests have been done). They lead us to their home..
When finding Iriama’s home, we found a great deal of poverty. They live in a slum of Karamojong families. Many are widowed mothers who have no other family to help take care of them. We then went to meet with the Chairman of the community. He wrote a letter agreeing to the resettlement of the boy, but he and the other men in the office had many questions about our program.
"Why are you resettling this boy back into poverty? Isn't he just going to run away? This boy was stubborn to run away, he will probably just run away again. How do you expect this mother to pay for this boy? She said she thought he was dead! And now you have added this boy back into her life to pay for him again? Shouldn't you learn about the family before you bring a boy back? She is struggling and can barely take care of herself.. and now you have added another boy into the family again?" (it is believed that if my pale, white, American skin had not been there, we would have had a different response… but, that is how it goes).
Uncle Geof and I worked our best to explain the appropriate answers. We explained that it was true we didn't know his situation when we left Kampala to bring him back that morning, but the purpose of our trip was to try our best to resettle him with his family and see the situation. We would take him home, assess the situation, and then take the information back to our bosses. But bottom line, it is best for a boy to be at his own home- not living on the streets. And if he can't stay with his own family, the government desires for children to be with a community member who is willing and able to care for the boy.
Because the mother was unable, a woman in the community volunteered to care for the boy. Her husband was a friend to the Iriama's father before the father passed away. Although she is able to feed the boy, she does not have the means to provide an education for him.
Conclusion: The boy and family were happy to be reunited. However, the mother is a widow, living in poverty, and unable to take proper care of her children. A friend has agreed to take in the boy and will provide proper care, however, is requesting assistance for school fees. School fess assistance was not promised to the family, but will be considered.
So we led the boy and came back to Kampala with a mission.
We returned… With a Rusty Taylor plan!
Why Do I call this a Rusty Taylor plan?
1. My father has a heart for boys without fathers. Did you know that he and Kenny Brixey (a friend from church) will take boys before Mother's Day to pick out gifts for their moms from Bath and Body Works? These two men pick up some young boys and take them shopping so they will have something to give their mothers for that special day. They have also been known to take boys to Razorback football and basketball games. As well as the Ft Smith Rodeo and Monster Jam shows in LR. (some same it is because my father fits in with the humor of 10 year old boys…partly true) So, helping Iriama, was just like my father.. helping the fatherless.
2. My father was an amazing business man. He is a wise business man. He hired hardworking men and treated them with great respect. He earned respect from all of his employees and customers. He grew a small business into the means to take care of his family. I respect that in my father. So starting a small business for this family reminded me of my father…
Let me share the rest of the story with you through my pictures!
We found his mother outside her home. She was sitting with crutches and a cast on her leg… She said that Iriama was at the new school (one we had visited last time and hoped to enroll Iriama in).
We talked with her about a way that she could provide money for her family. Without telling her our own plan, Uncle Geof simply asked her what she thought would be a good way for her to make money.. you know what she suggested? CHARCOAL! :)
The Chairman informed us that the charcoal truck comes through several times throughout the week, but he had already come today… so we needed to go and pick it this time, but the mother would have the charcoal brought to her in the future.
The chairman also informed us that the mother's home was very large and she would be able to keep the bags inside her home…(he was the one renting it to her for a reduced price)
After lunch in town, we ran around grabbing all of Iriama's school requirements: books, pencils, black shoes, passport photos, toilet paper, etc. We had budgeted to pay for his first term of school so he could begin studying. His mom will be expected to keep up with payments after this first gift.
We dropped the items off and school and paid for his school fees and uniform. I was so eager to see the progress being made at the home!
We finally got some pictures of all of us and the finished product!
We paid the first 5 months' rent ($20) since we were the ones who put the business in the space. It was great to find out that each month's rent is a small amount of money that she will easily be able to afford with her new business. These pictures are the FIRST pictures I saw of Iriama smiling after we took him home… Man, it is so good to have days like these…
What a PERFECT way to spend my father's birthday this year...