Theo never thought he would see his son again. One day, he woke up to discover that his son, Elliot, was gone, having suddenly and strangely disappeared without a word in the night. None of his neighbors had any information. After weeks of searching unsuccessfully for his son, Theo mourned his son as dead.
But Elliot wasn’t dead. He was hundreds of miles away in Rwanda’s capital city in search of food and resources to help his family. Having grown up for years experiencing poverty and food insecurity, 15-year-old Elliot decided to see if he could do anything about it. So he left home in the middle of the night without telling a soul.
On the streets, Elliot not only realized how hard it could be to find help, but he also unfortunately experienced further trauma and exploitation. In October 2019, Elliot began attending Hope for Life’s weekly Outreach Program. There, he learned that he didn’t have to continue struggling on his own. He learned that there were people who cared about him and wanted to help him achieve the life he was seeking. After attending several Outreach sessions, Elliot decided to transition into HFL’s rehabilitation program.
While living at the rehabilitative center, Elliot took classes with HFL’s tutors and teachers to help him catch up on the formal education he had missed. He was motivated and learned quickly, so in January 2020, he began attending public school.
Soon, HFL’s reintegration team was able to trace Elliot’s family and begin the reunification process. When Theo received a call that his son was alive, he didn’t believe it. It was only when Elliot visited his family in person, that his father cried tears of joy that his son was in fact alive! Over the next several months, HFL’s staff worked alongside Theo to identify ways that he could generate more income for his family. Staff also helped Elliot heal from his experience on the streets and prepare emotionally for eventually moving back home with his family.
This fall, Elliot officially reunified with his family and moved home! His father shared, “I now have a reason to eat, drink, and work again – my son is home!” Elliot promised his father to stay home, and his father promised to support and guide him going forward. Elliot and his family will continue to receive follow-up care from HFL’s reintegration team to ensure a lasting and successful reunification. Thank you for your support to bring families like Elliot’s back together.