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Give kids a chance

Dear friends

Children sometimes need patience, lots of love and the confidence that things will work out in the end. I experienced this last week in Uganda in a delightful way. It strengthened my faith in our protégés, our patient work and the “Give Kids a Chance” experience.


Have you also experienced these difficult years of growing up? These are the years in which we perhaps perceived our parents and teachers as a problem and sought distance from them – in order to develop our own identity. Perhaps we were reprimanded from school during these “boorish years”. I recognise that. During my own school years, I often sought out the role of the rebel. I liked being a lout and had to put up with reprimands for lack of discipline, even incitement to disobedience. I was almost expelled from school once. That could have ruined my whole school year.

And today? Today I recognise how all these phases of life are also repeated in our wonderful protégés. I visited them last week. It was marvellous! Their radiance, their progress. To see how maturity, self-confidence and social skills suddenly emerge. Suddenly seeing the bigger picture. How young people begin to take on responsibility without being asked. Standing on their own two feet, giving thanks and feeling the urge to make the world a better place. These are the golden moments when, as a guardian, you are grateful for the power of love. Because only it creates a foundation, a bond that survives even difficult times.

Because: of course we know it well. The time of “difficult” protégés. Disciplinary problems that make the sparks fly. We have that too. But the point seems to me to be this: as guardians, we cannot, should not and must not run away from our children, especially in the “difficult years”. That’s when they need us. They need patience and the love that says “I believe in you”. Even if they may not want to admit it. In the end, they all grow up and become sensible. Even if it sometimes seems otherwise.

This experience moved me last week in Uganda. I met some of our previously “difficult” protégés. They were wonderful! All of them. We grilled some bread dough, potatoes and sausages together over an open fire and talked. Talked about God and the world. About their experience of growing up. About what was important to them. And then the scales fell from my eyes. The “problem children” became self-confident, life-skilled leaders. At that moment, I knew it was worth it. Every day and every good word.

Bob, for example, who used to skip school, is now well on his way to becoming a great tourist guide.

Ronald has made the leap to becoming an independent artist. He is perhaps our most successful protégé – his outstanding graphic designs have now been published internationally and picked up by a successful African fashion brand.

Steven, our loner, produces bricks and vanilla, which he loves to give away to make others happy.

And one last observation in this letter. In our neighbourhood, the living conditions of many families have deteriorated dramatically. There are several reasons for this. The traces of the two-year lockdowns are still deep. Many fishing families have lost their livelihoods. New refugees are constantly arriving from Sudan. Healthcare is precarious and vicious circles of poverty are increasing. I will write about this another time.

In the meantime, since the beginning of the year, we have created a centre of education, safety and protection for over a hundred small and older children. This is also part of our work. The happy moments of growing up and new beginnings when you are still a long way off.

My warmest regards to you, also on behalf of our protégés.

Always yours

Burkhard Varnholt

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Kids of Africa guarantees that one hundred per cent of every franc donated reaches our many protégés.

Because we believe in each of them! Thank you for your help!

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