Joe was a young boy that has been roaming the streets of Lusaka for years. Almost ten years ago, before I founded Salvation Home, Joe came up to meon the streets and said, “I am going home to live with you — FOREVER.” He said it in perfect English and obviously had spent time practicing it.
As time went by, Joe became very involved in drug use and was a target for sexual predators that pick small boys from the streets. After Salvation Home was founded, he came to Sunday program once in a while. He was always in nice new clothes, as often he was taken by people for a weekend where he was used sexually and then given new clothes, money and food and dropped back in the streets. Joe had become a very angry, drug addicted boy.
One day Joe disappeared in government sweeps for street children, and we thought we would never see him again. When he finally returned to the Sunday program, he was clearly starving and very ill. The doctor told us he weighed less than an average six year old (at age thirteen) and had syphilis, gonorrhea and a respiratory infection. We struggled for the next several months with Joe’s illnesses, detox and emotional trauma; his trauma in the streets had left him angry and violent.
After a few months, Joe started going to our literacy classes. He started to read and on a very rare day, we found a smile in him. Joe now has graduated from school and lives at Kulunga Bana Youth Center. He found his home there before permanent residences were constructed, as he prefers the rural location and truly loves farming, and due to his hard work in developing Kulunga Bana into a productive farm, Joe cut the ribbon at our grand opening of Kulunga Bana Youth Center.