In 2018, we met Gladys and 3 of her 5 children. As far as Katanga goes, they were living in a ruthless section of the slum -- no place for a single mother and her children. Gladys explained that she didn't know how much longer she could provide for her girls and even mentioned running away, leaving her children defenseless and alone in Katanga. We shared about the many benefits of child sponsorship through Benjamin House, shared the Gospel with Gladys and her family, and she asked to register one of her daughters, Catherine, for sponsorship. In March, Catherine was sponsored and we were able to begin discipling Gladys and her family, as well as provide for some of their physical needs. Overtime, Gladys' heart changed toward her situation and she stopped making plans to abandon her children.
Gladys sells tomatoes and other perishable foods on the streets as people are on their way home from work. Selling goods without a storefront and a license (or street vending) is illegal, so Gladys sells her food at night so that Kampala officials are less likely to confiscate her goods. She leaves her home around 5 in the evening, before Sarah and Catherine return home from school. She picks up her produce and walks to the section of the street where she likes to set up. The walk is roughly 20 minutes with sacks of food on her back.
Then, she sets up her "store front" and sells. In the brief time we watched her work, Gladys made 10,000 shillings (around $2.62 USD). With the average daily income of Ugandans at $1 USD, it's obvious why she takes the risk of street vending to provide for her family. She returns home every morning around 1 AM. It's risky for Gladys who could get stopped by police at any point, but it's also dangerous for her children who are home alone in a slum all night long.
In an effort to provide more security for her family, Gladys moved them into a smaller home in Katanga. The smaller conditions are a challenge, but their safety was paramount to Gladys because she works at night. This week while visiting the family, Gladys recalled that "life was hard for me. I was hopeless," but now she says she will never abandon her children, no matter what creeps up. She is determined to be the mother of her children through thick and thin. This past January, her eldest daughter, Sarah, was sponsored. Now, with two children in sponsorship, Gladys has taken on a dream! She wants to save her money so that she can start an official business and move her family out of Katanga. Gladys dreams of opening an automobile spare parts shop! As she shared her dreams and prepared to go out for work that night, we watched her fix dinner for her 3 kids. The meal was small, but they didn't seem to notice. They were happy.
Sarah, Catherine, and Gladys are each realizing their potential and working hard to change their future and secure their dreams. But none of it would be possible if someone on the other side of an ocean hadn't said "yes" to sponsorship. Pray with us that they continue to grow in their love of their Savior, of each other, and continue to put forth the immense effort to save up and move out of Katanga.
There is hope for this family. Progress has been made. Pray that it continues.
Benjamin House staff, short-term missionaries, and our founders