Two weeks ago one of the street kids was hanging around outside the gate. I had heard from Morris that they sometimes came around, but I hadn’t seen any of them thus far. I was on my way back from the market and Morris and the boys were playing their late afternoon football game. The boy came to the gate and yelled in Leblango (the local language) and took off. What did he say…”Francis, your brother is back on street?”
In all of the conversations Richard and Morris have had with Francis there has never been any mention of a brother on the street. All three of us were dismayed to think that we had overlooked a brother when helping Francis. We knew that he had a much older married sister, but a brother was news to us.
In order to explain Alex, I first need to turn back the clock and give a proper introduction to Francis. Of all the boys Francis is closest to my heart. He is the most thoughtful and polite, but he also has a quiet strength and determination that makes everyone respect him. Case in point,when he first moved into Atin Afrika Francis got into a fight with Fred. The result, Francis chased Fred around the compound with a rock in hand threatening to kill him until Morris caught him and solved the problem. As a side note, Francis is 11 years old and weighs 30kg.
Francis takes time to enjoy everything. He is the slowest eater and savors his food. Yet when he has a treat he is the first to share it. He will watch you with a smile and burst into laughter if you make funny faces at him. Francis is the youngest child at Atin Afrika and the best football player. He is tiny, but he can give grown men a run for their money (though none of them like to admit it).
Francis is an orphan. His mother fell sick with a headache one day in the village and died. The other villagers claimed she was a victim of witchcraft. His father came to Lira town for a burial and died en route home. Nobody is quite sure how. Then Francis was sent to live with his uncle. Alex, the brother to Francis’s mother was also there staying with the uncle. Francis calls Alex his brother, but he is in fact his uncle too. Alex’s parents (Francis’s grandparents) both passed away during the war with the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in Northern Uganda. Alex is also an orphan.
The uncle mistreated both Alex and Francis and together they ran away. They found their way onto the street about 2 years ago. When Morris took Francis to Atin Afrika Alex was no longer on the street. He had returned to the village to try and ‘go home’. But, Alex discovered that neither he nor Francis was welcome in the village anymore.
So, Morris sent the boys out onto the street to find Alex. Street kids don’t hide, you just need the right eyes to see them. They brought him home to Atin Afrika and the joy in Francis’s face was so raw that it made my heart ache. The village may not want 11 year old Francis or 14 year old Alex but we do. Welcome to Atin Afrika Uncle Alex.