Building a Better Future: Emmanuel's Story

01/27/12

Emmanuel's life was not easy before he came to Children of the Nations (COTN). Emmanuel lost both of his parents at a young age, and was left in the care of his uncle. But sadly, Emmanuel's uncle saw him as an extra hand for labor, not as a child who needed to be nurtured, educated, and cared for. "Life was not very easy with my uncle because there was a lot of work for me," he explains. "My responsibility at my age was grazing animals, and sometimes I was beaten for not taking good care of the animals." Emmanuel was only eight years old when all this was expected of him. It was too much for such a young boy to take, and he yearned for an escape. "I would even sometimes run and sleep in the bush in fear of my uncle, or escape to my auntie's place which was nearby," he confides.

Emmanuel says it was during one of these escapes that, "God heard my cry, and brought COTN to my rescue." COTN was in the process of building a Children's Village in Lira, Uganda. Emmanuel was identified as a good candidate to come live in a Children's Home, with eight to twelve new "brothers" and "sisters" from similar circumstances, and house parents to give him the care and love that every child deserves.

The love that Emmanuel experienced at the Children's Village changed his life. "I now know about loving people," he explains. He also says his life is different because he knows how to pray, and how to distinguish between good and evil. Taking a second to reflect on how radically different his life is today, Emmanuel begins to list all the things he now has that he never had before. Shoes, more than one outfit, toothpaste and a toothbrush, "I even have shoe polish and can polish my shoes!" he adds. "I feel good and loved—life is good now," he concludes.

Emmanuel's daily routine looks different too. Once violently forced to work, Emmanuel now enjoys freely offering his gifts of diligence, strength, and hard work to benefit others. These days, 11-year-old Emmanuel does his housework quickly after school, so that he can join the group of construction workers building nursery school classrooms for the youngest COTN children. The workers are glad to have him join, and are teaching him how to make Hydraform bricks, interlocking bricks that require no mortar, with the new brick machine that COTN partners funded. Emmanuel says he enjoys the work, and values the things he is learning. "I want to be an engineer when I grow up," he explains. "When I see an airplane flying in the air, I always think about how it was made and how it can be repaired. I also want to repair vehicles and motorcyles."

Quite a few other children enjoy helping with the construction, and many hands are making the work quick. Construction began in the beginning of January, and the first classroom stands at window-level today. Emmanuel knows that many generous partners made this school construction possible. He, in turn, wants them to know that the construction experience has taught him a lot, and he has plans to use his new skills to improve the Children's Village. He is hoping to one day build a small barn for their chickens and goats. "We could do that ourselves," he explains, "because we have learnt how to build already."

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