Recently, Hope for Life hosted its first group Learning Trip in Rwanda. Four supporters from the US joined Megan Chao, US Executive Director, for 10 days to learn about the factors that contribute to child homelessness in East Africa, hear stories of impact, and form relationships with the staff and children. It was a wonderful first trip and we’re excited to host similar trips in the future!

One trip participant was Michael Renda from the Chicago area. Upon returning home, he wrote a beautiful piece about his time that we’re honored to share with you below.

“A little love, a little food and a place to sleep. Three simple things my family and I take for granted every day. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to meet 30 young men and boys who at one time did not have any of those three things in their lives. Boys as young as 7-years-old, leaving their homes and deciding they had a better chance of survival on the streets than living with their families.

I would like to share about one boy whose story is only a couple of months old. Last year, he watched both his parents pass away. With no other family, he took to the streets with his younger sister to survive. Being on the streets and feeding yourself I am sure is hard enough, but to have a second mouth to feed is even tougher. Eventually, he watched his sister die of starvation leaving only him. In a small miracle, a man found him sleeping on the streets and asked if he had anywhere to go. When he said he did not, the man pointed him to Hope for Life and said they are often able to help. Hope for Life is currently running at capacity, but after hearing his story, they knew they could not turn him away. Fast forward six weeks, when this boy with the most simple of actions brought me to tears on three different occasions.

A Little Love I sat around a circle with him and a group of his friends. They asked question after question about silly things. I would answer and an older boy would translate. They asked me a silly question about my dogs and where they go to the bathroom. I explained we had a bell that hangs on the door and they ring it. Once the older boy translated, you would have thought I told the funniest joke of all time. The whole group was laughing but the young boy, who only six weeks earlier was living on the streets, was laughing uncontrollably.  Being surrounded by friends in a safe place and watching him laugh brought me so much Joy that I began to cry.

A Little Food We were able to join a special event with the boys one day. It also involved all of us eating together. I sat with the boys and waited for the food to be served. Across from me was the young boy, who six weeks ago was close to starvation. Once the food arrived, I happen to look across the table at him. There were onions on top of the meat and chips. He doesn’t care much for onions, so he picked them off and handed them to the boy next to him. Again came the tears as I thought how perfect it was that he no longer worries about his next meal that he can give away some of his own. Such a simple act, but for me, so much Joy.

A Place to Sleep The boys have two bunk beds per room. With some of the older boys back from boarding school for the holiday break, they had to double up in beds. The first day I was there, the young boy took me by the hand and showed me his bed. He wouldn’t have cared if he shared it with three other boys and there were 20 bunks in the room, he was so proud that this one was his. As you may have guessed, the whole scene brought tears of joy to my eyes.

I personally struggle to find joy in this world. T