Saved From Child Labor: Barbra's Story

05/02/13

Fourteen-year-old Barbra smiles as she explains her favorite Bible story.  "I love the story of the prodigal son," she says, "because it teaches that our lives can be better again, even if it appeared wasted and useless at one point." 

 
Seven years ago, Barbra thought her life was as wasted and useless as it could get.  Standing at her mother's funeral in her rural village in Uganda, she couldn't imagine how life could get worse. But it did.
 
With no one to care for her, Barbra went to live with a distant relative. But she was not seen as family in her new home. "They would send all their children to school, but I would remain alone at home to manage all the house chores on a hungry stomach," she remembers. 
 
Only seven years old at the time, Barbra spent her days working harder than the average adult. "I woke up very early, at 6 a.m., to go work in the garden, sweep, fetch water, and take the animals to the field for grazing," she explains. "My lunch would be wild fruits in the field because I had to keep watch on the cattle." 
 
"I would come back home at 6 p.m., very tired, and bathe without soap," Barbra continues. "I was served little food and then would go to sleep very late after cleaning the dishes." 
 
Desperate to escape her life of physical labor, threats, and fear, Barbra took refuge with her grandmother. She says life was better there, even though her grandmother couldn't afford to feed her more than one meal a day or send her to school. "But my life was safe—much as I was hungry, naked, and still not going to school," she says. 
 
Barbra didn't know it, but while she was suffering and struggling to find a way to survive, someone was already looking for a way to help her. 
 
Since Babara's mother's funeral, Reverend James Okalo Ekwang, the Country Director for Children of the Nations' (COTN) new ministry in Uganda, had been working to find a place for her to live. He attended the funeral and noticed that Barbra had no one to care for her. But COTN did not yet have a home to accommodate children like Barbra. 
 
People like you soon changed that. COTN partners helped build seven family-style Children's Homes for orphans like Barbra in 2009. You also stepped up by sponsoring children in need.  Because of people like you, Barbra was able to escape the pain and suffering of her life and come to live in COTN's new Uganda Children's Village.
 
Now, because of her sponsors and generous people like you, Barbra no longer has to work all day.  Instead, she is in school, studying hard so that one day se can reach her dream of becoming an accountant.  "I want to manage finances very well, so I can support not only my own kids one day, but other kids as well," she says.  "I want to sponsor needy Ugandan children." 
 
Because of you, and her sponsors, Barbra says, "I have learned that God loves me and has a plan for my future. Thank you, sponsors, for sponsoring my education and relieving me from my fears of the future." 
 
You can help children in need like Barbra. Sponsor a child today!