Patience Kezaabu Saazi, 17, is determined to look after vulnerable children. She comes from a family of three children, is the first born and goes to ST Andrews Turi in Kenya.
How it started
When only nine years old, Kezaabu developed a soft spot for vulnerable children, especially street children. She would surrender her packed breakfast when going to school without her mother’s knowledge.
One day, her teacher asked her mother why she was not packing breakfast for Kezaabu. Her mother was upset because she was sure they always put something in Kezaabu’s lunch box.
When she tried calling home to find out what was happening, Kezaabu stopped her mother and told her she always gave out her eats on the way to school to street children in traffic jam.
Kezaabu also used to ask her mother for coins whenever they were going to school in the morning, but the mother did not follow up to see where she was taking the money.
Starting the projects
After primary school, Kezaabu was taken to Kenya for further studies. But on return things had changed.
“I tried to ask my mother on several occasions where they had taken these children, but she did not have any idea because from the start she did want us to get close to these street children,” she says.
Kezaabu says after putting her mother on pressure, the mother started calling her colleagues, asking where street children were taken to.
“My mother was very surprised when she was told that there was Naguru Remand Home which was very near our home. On my birthday, I did not ask for a gift, rather I asked her to take me to the rehabilitation centre for juveniles,” she says.
Kezaabu says she was very relieved to know where the street children were staying and got a chance to know their everyday life. They were very touched, especially her mother, who broke down after talking to the children.
“After the visit, we realised that we needed to do something to help the juvenile who are in rehabilitation centres and remand homes through counselling, giving them hope, supporting them financially and making sure they reunite with their families,” she says.
Kezaabu says in 2016, they started a non-governmental organisation called Crib of Hope. It started as a family initiative, but they have since involved more individuals.
“The main aim of this organisation is to help juveniles in rehabilitation centres know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. They should not think that since they are vulnerable life will never be okay,” she says.
Kezaabu discloses that they are currently raising money for Neva, a girl dismissed from home for getting pregnant.
“We started selling cookies and cakes to different organisations, starting with Uganda Revenue Authority, so that we can raise Shs4m to give Neva as start-up capital and buy some items for the new born, because she is now seven months pregnant,” she says.
Crib of Hope offers cancelling services to juveniles, trains them in vocational skills and gives them start-up capital for those who have pursued a three-month training in confectionary and bakery, mechanics, hair dressing and catering. Kezaabu says in a year they cater for about 100 children.
“We started with little money, around Shs2m, but now we are in more than Shs5m plus. My parents have done a lot to see that my dream comes true and they have invested a lot of money, like 80 per cent of the money,” she says.
Kezaabu says when stuck, her parents sell some of her cows in the village to raise money.
“I have many cows in the village and I feel good selling them for the good of the other children.”
Kezaabu wants to put up a rehabilitation home where she can look after the juveniles and give them hope that everyone can have a bright future if they are ready to change.
When she is away at school, the project is managed by Mr Charles Karamaji, their focal person.