A few months ago, an Arise Africa staffer, Catherine, made a home visit to one of the children in our student sponsorship program. It was during the school break and our staff is constantly in the compounds at this time keeping up with our children. Catherine went to find Juliet, who is in the 5th grade. She lives with her mother and 3 siblings in a compound called Mtendere East.
Juliet has two younger siblings, Joseph, who has cerebral palsy, and Agnes, is nonverbal autistic. Juliet’s father left the family after Joseph was born, leaving her mom, Maureen, to care and provide for them all on her own. Juliet and her older brother have tried to help their mother take care of their siblings when she is out looking for work. This led to Juliet’s older brother dropping out of school in the 7th grade to help his family put food on the table.
While Catherine was doing a home visit she got to Juliet’s house the doors were locked and there was no answer. She didn’t find anyone outside but could hear some murmuring in the house. When she looked through the window, she saw Joseph and Agnes left alone without anyone caring for them. She immediately shared her concerns with Arise Africa leadership who together went to find out why the children had been left alone.
After visiting the home multiple times and finding the same situation with the children left alone, our team finally visited late in the evening and not during the day. At the time we were frustrated with Maureen and felt she was being careless leaving her special needs children alone. What we actually found was a loving mother, who was desperately looking for work to feed her family. She was overwhelmed and needed help. Maureen felt like she had to choose between leaving her children unattended to put food on the table, and staying home with them but having no income for the family. Our team empathized with her and wanted to help.
We often say it takes a village to raise children, and in this moment our Arise Africa village surrounded Juliet and her family. We sat down with Maureen and told her we wanted to get her children help and seek professional advice. She was beyond relieved and thankful that someone else cared about them. In many developing countries individuals with special needs are not valued and society looks down upon them. Joseph and Agnes have since been taken to the hospital for tests to see how best they can be helped. Our hope is to find a better child care facility that meets their needs so their mother can find work. Arise has been able to help the Mwanza Family, providing a monthly food allowance.
Juliet’s family situation initially had a negative impact on her academics. She has been struggling with her grades because she didn’t have time to do her school work at home. When she gets home from school, she’s responsible for making sure all the house chores are complete while she waits for her mother to come home.
Her life has been greatly impacted by all Arise staff, especially Teacher Abi at her school, Kochelani, and Catherine, who have helped her and her family.
“I thought I was going to be removed from the Arise Africa program when I missed school or didn’t do well on the exams. The staff and teachers encouraged me and helped me pray for all the many challenges I face in life. They show me true love and do not discriminate me or my siblings.”
Juliet dreams of becoming a musician! Music has inspired her and been an escape. She wants to make music that will speak to people’s hearts and comfort them when they are in need. Juliet says, “Listening to music has helped me forget most of the problems I have because music itself will talk to you and calm you down.”One of her favorite songs is ‘He’s able’ by Deitrick Haddon. She loves it because it gives her hope and assurance that God will be able to do all the things she and her family pray for.
She hopes that through a music career she can open a school to take care of disabled children in the society. Juliet says, “I do not want to see kids miss school because they have to take care of their loved ones that are physically challenged. I also want the physically challenged to get an education and learn a skill that can help them survive in life. I believe being disabled does not mean not being able to achieve greater things in life.”
Juliet’s prayer request is for “my mother to find a better job so she doesn’t have to struggle taking care of my siblings and me. I would also love for people to pray for me to do well in school so I can graduate and take care of my family when my mother is not able to.”
Juliet has received support from Arise Africa for her education through our sponsorship program, however we have not been able to fully help her family in the way we desire. We we want to raise support for the entire Mwanza Family and help get Joseph and Agness in a special school we have found for children with disabilities. This will cost $250 a month. If we can get Joseph and Agnes sponsored too, they can go to school and their mom will have the time and ability to find a proper job! They won’t have to stay at home all day and can develop too. Please consider helping the Mwanza Family and sign up to become a sponsor or give a one time gift towards Joseph and Agnes!