At night, lying in bed, Shafick Lukwago couldn’t sleep. He was kept awake by the memories of his behavior.
“I would spend my days disturbing people, abusing my friends; I wouldn’t find peace with my father,” recalls Shafick, who, instead of going to school, would wander around with a group of children taking drugs.
One day, Shafick’s friends dared him to open one of his neighbors’ padlocks and steal money. Afraid of his father’s reaction, he ran away from home and lived on the streets until he learned about AVSI’s Family Resilience Project (FARE).
For the last three years (2015-2018), FARE prevented separation and re-separation of children from their families in Kampala and in Wakiso Districts in Uganda. Supported by the USAID-funded ASPIRES project led by FHI360, AVSI, together with Retrak, Companionship of Works Association (COWA) and Fruits of Charity Foundation (FCF), was able to help 650 households, including 350 families deemed to be at high risk of child–family separation and 300 children alredy living outside of family care.
On Friday, October 26th, Ezio and I were greeted as warmly as ever by Socorro, Adriana, Fely and all the other staff and volunteers at Crecemos in Oaxaca, Mexico, under the bright blue sky dotted with amazing pink bugambillia flowers and the mountain landscape framing the scene. That evening we met together at the Parish of St. Carmen for a Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Fr. Lorenzo Fanelli, an Italian priest who nudged some university students to go out into the community and propose the life that they were living to others. The origin of Crecemos lay in that first, small initiative: certain of the goodness and source of hope which they had met, those young people went out of their comfort zone to meet their neighbor with an invitation to share in their happiness.
A prayerful celebration of thanks was a moving way to begin our Fiesta to mark the first 25 years of Crecemos. Children from the Crecemos communities proclaimed the readings, sang and played the guitar and mandolin. Towards the end of the Mass, the congregation was moved to tears and deep smiles as a group of families with children of all ages presented an offering of flowers to Mary at the front of the altar, while the budding group of young violinists from Monte Alban played Ave Maria in the choir loft above. It was glorious!
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