Solomon Sets an Example of Creativity and Generosity

02/10/12

Growing up in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp, Solomon lived with the frustration of never having enough, and never being able to provide for himself and his family. Solomon's parents died during the rebel war that ravaged the northern part of Uganda for over two decades. Living with his grandmother in the camp, Solomon desperately wanted to provide for her and his younger cousins, but earning a living in the camp was next to impossible. "Life was hard," he says. "There was no food."

Solomon was a creative, determined young man though, and he didn't give up on life. "We would go around looking for something to eat around the grinding mills," he remembers. "We would get the remains of rice from the chaff and that would be the meal for the day." Solomon did what he could with the resources available to him. "We would collect old water bottles and sell them to get money," he says. One day, he decided to try raising doves. He thought if he could breed and raise them, he could sell them to other people in the camp, and feed his family with the meat. But he had no place to keep them, and his family ended up just eating them.

When he was twelve years old, Solomon's life changed drastically. Children of the Nations (COTN) established a Children's Village near the camp, and began inviting orphans like Solomon to come live in a home, with house parents to care for them, a school nearby, and three solid meals a day. Thanks to his sponsors, who made this life possible, Solomon, who was used to looking out for himself, could suddenly concentrate his energy on his school work, and could be a regular twelve-year-old boy again.

Solomon has now been living in the Children's Village for four years. One of oldest boys in the homes, Solomon takes great pains to set a good example for his younger brothers and sisters. "I feel good because I am their adviser, I advise them on the good things they should do." Solomon, who had never attended school before coming to COTN, is now in Primary 7 (equivalent to seventh grade) and will be the first COTN–Uganda student to go on to secondary school.

Meanwhile, Solomon's entrepreneurial spirit hasn't died. When he came back from Christmas vacation this January, Solomon had hatched a plan. He saved up all his pocket money, and bought a few doves. Then he found some old iron sheets, and set about fashioning dove boxes on top of the goat and chicken shed in the Children's Village. He cut the iron sheets into pieces, then tied them together with small wires, shaping them into boxes. As the doves breed and multiply, he plans both to contribute them to the Children's Village to help feed his brothers and sisters, and sell them for extra pocket money. Through raising the doves, Solomon hopes both to learn more about keeping birds, and to make his sponsor happy. "My sponsor will be happy because of my being creative," he says. Always thinking about his influence on the younger children, Solomon adds that several of them have joined him and are learning about doves as well.

For now Solomon is trying his hand at dove keeping, but his long-term goal is to become a lawyer. He's seen much corruption and injustice in his life, and he wants to fight it. "I want to be a lawyer because I want to bring justice," he explains. "Not like others who judge unjustly because of money and bribes."

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