At age 11, Simon ran away from his very abusive home and headed to Kampala where he heard tales of promises and success. His mom died when he was 3 years old and he never knew his father, so his caregiver had no respect for him. They would drink heavily and beat him unfairly.
Throughout most of Africa, boys who have no father are heavily shamed and disrespected. Without a father, a boy has almost no chance to own land or have land passed down to him.
Simon thought the capital of Uganda would have endless resources. What he found was sadly the opposite of bountiful opportunity. He wandered around the city and followed a group of boys to the Kisenyi slum, considered one of the largest slums in Uganda, where it wasn’t so much a competition for resources—it was a competition for survival.
One night, Simon was sleeping on the street inside his rice sack when a group of men came and started beating on street children. One of the men had a hot fishing spear and he used it to brand Simon and other boys. Simon was branded on his belly. Beyond the branding, the man also punctured his body, leaving a bleeding, open wound about the size of a silver dollar. Simon spent the next week crying as his body tried to heal.
After he recovered, Simon sat in the slums in deep, powerful reflection as he searched his mind and heart for hope. He then was overcome with the desire to sing. His loud and beautiful voice rang out in the busy, bustling slums. The song was intended to strengthen him and lift his spirits, and as he sang, one of the African Hearts staff members (respectfully called Uncles in the slums), who works in the slums, heard him and approached him.
The staff started communicating with Simon and working with him in the slums. They invited him to come to the African Hearts Community Center located in the slums, where they feed and educate the boys.
Simon was one of the most dedicated and disciplined boys and once African Hearts realized his desire to succeed, they rescued Simon from the streets, bringing him to the African Hearts Transitional Home where he thrived. With an insatiable craving to learn as much as possible, he was one of top students at the African Hearts Junior School and he scored high on national exams.
While Simon was living in the slums, he didn't think there was life beyond the streets. He truly thought he would die there. But, when he came to African Hearts, he found renewed hope and he now believes there is a bright future ahead of him. He wants to be a lawyer or a doctor. Let’s just say, he has big aspirations.
Simon graduated from the African Hearts Junior School in 2017 and is currently studying at a secondary school (equivalent to a high school). He’s been resettled with his loving grandparents and is enjoying his life.
African Hearts is one of our Ugandan partners and we completely fund their slum recovery program which includes outreach services, serving hot meals, counselling, medical services, rescue support, rehabilitation, boarding at the transitional home, education, and reintegration support. Click below to learn more.