They were anxious for our arrival because that would mean that the all- important plastic bowl with beans and rice was one step closer to reality. These boys who had been abandoned or forced to leave their starving families somehow survived each day immersed in the filth and squalor of the Kampala slums. “Coach,” the remarkable figure who works tirelessly to provide support, hope, nourishment and an opportunity for survival, employs his strong voice and powerful personality to call the group of 40ish boys to order. After introducing us, the strange “muzungu” visitors, Coach directs his “officers” (older boys in the group) to distribute the steaming bowls to the eager young men, who, surprisingly, waited patiently for their portion and protested loudly if someone attempted to short-cut the process. Several boys pointed to a solitary lad in the back row who seemed to be very lethargic and confused.
They wanted to make sure that he received a meal. We are later told that he is probably among those who are suffering the side effects of their addiction to inhaled jet fumes. The boys ate quickly and began to scramble away along the muddy eroded paths. Several stopped to thank us and offered a fist bump sign of friendship.
Three meals per week are provided to this group by our organization. Any other nourishment must be acquired by any available means. The reality of this unspeakable poverty leaves us in despair yet inspired to do more…something to sustain and perhaps elevate the boys in their desperate fight for survival.