16-year-old Leo from Uganda tells us why his SOS Mother is the most important person in his life.
A note from Leo:
In Uganda, 2.7 million children have lost either one or both their parents, half of them as a result of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic that continues to be a heavy burden to Ugandan society. Leo* lost his mother to HIV/AIDS when he just 5 years old. A while later, his father died for reasons still unknown to Leo.
After losing both of his parents, Leo went to live with his grandparents, but they struggled to care for him because of limited income. After three years, the grandparents looked for another home for Leo because they couldn’t provide for him anymore. In 2008, they found a loving home for him with an SOS Family at the SOS Village in Fort Portal, Uganda.
Now 16 years old, Leo decided to put his thoughts to paper about how his SOS Mother helped him overcome his trauma and shape him into the person he is today.
I was a victim of self-pity. Whenever I thought about my biological parents, I cried. I am told my mother died from HIV/AIDS, and no one really knows what happened to my father. For six months after joining my SOS family, I could not shake off this deep sense of loss. It was consuming me. But my [SOS] Mother stood by me, she comforted me, loved me and patiently counselled me. She gave me hope. I live on the truths she has instilled in me. My mother has raised me to be all I can be.
I have become a moral role model to the children in the SOS Village, and when they want to confide they come to me. I like the fact that I am trusted. Thanks to my mother, I am also a top student in school. I am confident that my future is bright.
Leo carries his younger brother as he opens the door to his family home at the SOS Children’s Village in Fort Portal, Uganda.
I am the eldest of my mother’s 10 children and I have witnessed her devotion to us all. Hers is a face of courage and endurance even when we overwhelm her with our emotional demands and compete for her attention. From her we have received complete love. I try to emulate my mother in the best way I know how.
I will write my final national primary school exam at the end of this year. A lot of enthusiastic eyes are on me and expectations are high. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if I do not meet those standards. Then I remember that my mother will be proud of me no matter what, and this brings me great comfort.
My dream is to be a bank manager. It is not just a position of power and influence but also of trust, uprightness and integrity, values greatly instilled in me by my mother.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
All photos taken by Aidah Nampewo.
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