It’s the nights that are the worst.
During the day, Joseph is kept busy just trying to survive. He scavenges for food or something to sell amongst a huge, festering rubbish dump in Goma, eastern D.R. Congo.
But at night this eight year old boy searches for somewhere to sleep. Usually a cardboard box for a bed and a plastic sheet for a blanket. That’s when he feels most scared.
And most alone.
It wasn’t always that way. Joseph used to be a happy, playful little boy. But when his mum died, life suddenly got a lot tougher. His Dad got remarried and had another son. But money was hard to come by, and Joseph’s stepmother put her own children first.
When Joseph’s brother was bitten by a snake one day, It was Joseph who got the blame. His stepmother said he was a child witch who had brought a curse on their family. He was thrown out of his home and onto the streets that same day. Literally tossed into the scrap heap.
That’s where he’s lived ever since. Kids like him are called ‘street children’ but the reality is that they don’t have a childhood. A childhood is filled with toys, laughter, learning and the carefree time and space to grow up in.
Joseph’s has had none of that. He has to constantly worry about how to stay safe and where his next meal is coming from. He has no time for a childhood. On the streets you need to toughen up quick if you’re going to survive.
Unless you’ve stood on that rubbish heap, it’s impossible to imagine the smell. It’s impossible to imagine your child or grandchild having to rummage through it to find scraps of food to eat. It’s impossible to imagine what Joseph’s life is like. How hard it is to scratch out an existence every single day.
And at night when he settles down on his cardboard pillow, it’s hard to hear the sound of little Joseph crying himself to sleep. Despite the hardened veneer, there’s still a child in there. An eight year old boy yearning desperately for the love and warmth of a mother who’s never coming back.
More than anything in the world, he just needs a cuddle. Someone to put their arm round him and to tell him ‘It’s going to be OK’.
If we don’t do it, no-one else will.
Your generous donations help keep children like Joseph safe. Our project in Goma finds vulnerable kids on the streets and rescues them from the dirt and the danger. It gives them a decent meal and a place to wash. More importantly it is a nurturing home. A surrogate family for children abandoned by their own. A place of love, warmth and happiness.
It gives children the chance to play and make friends. A chance to get the education they missed out on. And crucially, the chance to get some of their childhood back.
Kids like Joseph urgently need your help. We need to get to him before the gangs and drug dealers lead him down a different, devastating path.
Will you help him by making a donation right now?