(Today’s #10outof10 post is from Austin Goss, one of our staff serving the children in Uganda.)
A large number of the children who are served by Sixty Feet are placed in the remand homes for committing crimes. These juveniles in conflict with the law arrive for many different reasons, ranging from petty theft and disobedience to rape and murder.
There are many stories to tell. However, this story stands out.
Harry was placed on remand for the brutal murder of his step-father. All the evidence seemed conclusive, and the blame fell squarely on Harry’s shoulders. The case was open and shut; he was going to spend the next two years of his life in prison. Harry was interviewed during one of our justice initiative (J-FASTER*) sessions, and that’s when everything changed.
- (*J-FASTER is a juvenile justice initiative that was implemented to introduce plea bargaining to the Ugandan court system. Sixty Feet partners with Pepperdine University to expedite the process for juvenile offenders, which helps to relieve some of the backlog in the remand homes. This program gives waiting children an opportunity to have their cases pushed through the court system faster, and also allows for their sentences to be reduced in some cases.)
During the interview, it was brought to light that Harry was on remand for an entirely different reason: he had taken the fall for his mother. He witnessed what she had done. He also knew that, if convicted, she would be thrown in jail for the rest of her life. Not willing to leave his family in such dire straits, Harry willingly confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, knowing his sentence would not exceed a few years.
It’s hard to fathom a young man with so much potential sacrificing himself like that.
As we got to know Harry, we began to understand the type of young man he is. Kind, loving, thoughtful, humble; he possesses a wisdom far beyond his years. He’s no ordinary person.
As a result of the J-FASTER session, he was allowed to leave the remand home immediately based on the time he had already served there. As a stipulation, he was required to join Sixty Feet’s Child Development Program, where he could return to school and pursue his education. Unsurprisingly, he quickly established himself as a stellar student, spiritual leader, and model citizen.
We recently made a visit to the remand home where Harry had served his sentence, and he asked if he could provide a word of encouragement to his peers.
“Trust God, continue to pray, and believe that there is something better for you. I asked God every day to deliver me from this place, and now I am very blessed. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be where I am now. Don’t give up.”
We’re extremely grateful that God has placed us here. To advocate for children like Harry. To stand in his corner. To believe in him.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12children, law, leader, murder, sacrifice, vulnerable