Maria grew up in a rebel camp in the DRC. Her parents were involved in a military separatist group, so from a very young age, Maria was trained to be a child soldier. She, along with her five siblings, would help raid and ambush villages. Maria was a child of war.
In 2015, the UN raided the rebel camp where Maria was living. Maria’s mother, father, and brother all died. But, praise be to God, Maria survived. Maria’s parents were originally from Uganda, so she was taken back to Uganda by the UN and placed at Naguru Reception Centre, one of the facilities where Sixty Feet works. As one can imagine, when Maria arrived, she did not know the local language and had experienced significant trauma from being a child soldier, seeing her family die, and being in a new country, alone, without family.
At Reception, Sixty Feet engaged Maria in several different programs to show her Jesus’ love, compassion, and salvation. Maria joined a catch-up class with a Sixty Feet teacher and Maria began to learn English, Luganda (the local language), and started to love school. Maria also participated in our weekly Bible teachings, songs, and play time. Our counselors were able to work with her, to help her process her trauma, get acclimated to life at Reception, and help her envision life beyond the walls of a rebel camp.
Amazingly, the government was able to find one of Maria’s relatives in Kampala. In 2016, Maria went to live with her relative, who treated her as her own daughter. God’s goodness to Maria in this situation is nothing short of miraculous. Sixty Feet was able to enroll Maria in school and provide all of the necessary requirements and payments for Maria to thrive in school. This was a huge blessing to the relative who did not have a lot of money.
Sixty Feet has continued to follow-up with Maria, visiting her frequently, continuing with counseling visits, discipleship, and making sure the family is doing well. Maria is now a powerful, friendly, and loving child. She is fluent in Luganda, the local language, and speaks English well. She works hard at home and in school. She is in 5th grade and during school breaks she takes tailoring classes.
Sixty Feet is daily positioned “for such a time as this”…opportunities to love a child soldier back to life; opportunities to reunite a lost child with his family; opportunities to rescue a child with special needs from an abusive situation; opportunities to share the gospel with children who have never heard it. The list goes on, and on, and on. We are so thankful for how God has called us to a specific harvest and for our staff to shine light in some of the darkest corners of Uganda. We are amazed and grateful for how He has changed Maria’s life and pray that she, along with all the other children we encounter, will become a light to a lost world.