There are millions of children living on the street worldwide; children who are ignored, abused and have their human rights violated on a daily basis. Although children on the streets have rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the same way that all other children do, many government policies do not reflect this. In Uganda, there are at least 10,000 street children. As in many other countries, a life on the street can mean missing out on education, physical and emotional torture, enduring a harsh environment on the street, sexual exploitation and engagement in criminal activities. Stromme Foundation East Africa (SFEA) through partners like Child Restoration Outreach (CRO) Mbale, is working to make the world a better place for these precious children.
Through sports and creative arts, CRO rehabilitates street children and endeavours to reunite most of them with existing families while supporting their educational needs. Over the years we have seen a lot of tearing successes when these once vulnerable children turn into responsible citizens of their communities.
James Alitho is one of the youth who has emerged through CRO rehabilitation efforts. Orphaned at a young age, with no relative to claim him and his siblings, James saw the only option he had at surviving was turning to the streets. Unable to attend school, whenever he got tired of his daily routine of begging on the streets, James would turn to his hobby of playing football on one of the community grounds. It was on one of the days, that the CRO staff on their routine street walks got in contact with him. This was in 2002; they interviewed him, invited him at the centre then enrolled him in rehabilitation class.
A year later he joined Namatala primary school and upon successful completion proceeded to secondary school in Maluku Secondary for O’ level. In 2012, James got a scholarship with St. Mary’s Kitende where he has studied his 2 higher secondary classes. James was awarded with the scholarship after winning the post primary championships during his o-level alongside his remarkable academic performance.
While at CRO, he played football in the under 12, and then graduated to under 14, and eventually the under16 team. No doubt that James takes football as one of his passions. He has actively participated in the schools teams that he has been a part of. In his post primary activities, he featured for the school team football at Malukhu s.s, guided the team to qualify for the Nationals in Masaka. James also won two champions and got voted the best goal keeper of the tournament as well as most valuable player. He was also instrumental in the winning of the East African Schools Tournament with Kitende in 2012 and where he received gold medal.
At CRO, he has been both a player and a coach with the CHRISC Tournament in Tanzania where he also received 2 silver medals. He was promoted to the CRO FC senior team as a first choice goal keeper. Currently James is playing as the striker in the team. During the 2011-2012 Big League (2nd tier football) season he emerged as the top scorer in the League with 10 goals and this helped the team to qualify for the Uganda Premier League 2013-2014 season. “I enjoy playing in the CRO Sports field because it is the best field I have ever played in. One day I hope to play professional football to assist more children at CRO and the Uganda Cranes”. Said James.
What a remarkable young man James is. And with all the support from our partners around the world, we know for sure that his story has only but just begun. It is a joy to us that we can be a part of his journey.
Come, let’s empower lives together and see a world free from poverty!