Former Street Child, Now a Pastor, Shares About His Ministry to Orphans in Uganda

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on April 23, 2024

The following is a transcript of this second installment of a two-part interview. Click here to watch the first part. This transcript is edited for clarity and brevity.

The Stream: This is Aliya Kuykendall with The Stream. I’m joined again by Pastor Innocent. And in our part two, he’s going to be sharing with me about his adult life and his ministry and what he’s doing now. So Innocent, why don’t you tell me — start off with how you met your wife. That was just shortly after you came to the Lord, right?

Innocent Byaruhanga: Yes, ma’am. So I met my dear wife, Gloria. I hope she’ll be able to watch this. And we met in 2008. I met her through her late sister, who was like a mom to me. So through that relationship with her late sister, after the death of her sister, we became so close, she needed encouragement.

And eventually — I didn’t know that God was also having something in plan for us. And then I proposed to her and she said yes, though the resistance from her other family members was too much. They never wanted her to marry me.

TS: Because you were a former street child.

IB: Yes. Because based on my background, I was from the street. I don’t have a father. I don’t have a mother. I don’t have a family. I’m not educated. I didn’t have a good paying job. So they never wanted her to marry me.

TS: Yeah.

IB: But because she loved me and God was in it, she stuck with me and we got married. And we have been married for 16 years.

TS: Wow. And tell us about your family.

IB: Me and my dear wife, we have many, many children. But I should say beside the children of our ministry, we have three adopted daughters: Katushabe Noaline, Angel, and Atarah, and then also Louis. Louis is our biological son. He’s the youngest. Louis is 2, making 3 on July 1.

TS: So you have three adopted daughters and then you were able to conceive a son?

IB: Yes, but we conceived Louis — so, for a long time me and my wife, we used to have a lot of issues with conceiving. And my wife had said that she would never adopt again.

But this time we got a baby and they called us that a one-week-old baby had been dumped in a toilet. And they needed a place. So our organization sent our social workers to go and rescue this baby. And when they brought the baby, I loved her so much. And I looked to my wife. I said, “We are adopting this baby.” And my wife didn’t hesitate. She said, “okay.” So the same month that we adopted our daughter, Atarah, the same month that God gave us a son. We conceived, and then finally we were able to get Louis.

TS: Wow. So how old are your three daughters?

IB: Noeline is 17 now, and she’s finishing her high school. Angel, she’s 15, in senior three. And Atarah is coming — she’s going to make 4. And then Louis is going to make 3 in July.

TS: Oh my goodness. Such a precious family.

IB: Yes. We thank the Lord.

TS: Okay. So you started the children’s home. Tell me — that was after you came to the Lord. Tell me how that happened.

IB: So when I was still on the street, I used to tell God that the day he would be able to take me out of the street, I’ll be able so to do something for other children. I’ll be able to help other children who are on the streets. So when I left the street and being taken to the orphanage, as I said, and after, because I was too old, I got a job as a security guard.

And then my first salary, I rented a small house, I should say small [room]. And then I went to the streets and I picked nine children with me and I brought them to stay with me on empty boxes — the boxes were our beds, were our mattresses. And I didn’t really know much about the organization or anything to do with ministry. My desire was just to go and get some few children to stay with me because I had promised God.

And then all of a sudden my pastor came and told me that — I think God was calling me to be a father to the fatherless because I know exactly what they were going through. And I think God took me to the streets to be able to learn what they go through; that he was calling me to be the father to the fatherless. And he helped me to establish Save the Street Children Uganda, where we rescue homeless children. We give them shelter. We provide them with medical care. We feed them three meals a day. We are able to provide them education. And here we are.

TS: Wow. So it started with you inviting nine children into your recently rented place and sleeping in cardboard boxes, which was better than the street.

IB: Yes, ma’am.

TS: Amazing. So there is a significant need for children’s homes. It sounds like there’s many children on the street where you live.

IB: Yes. Yes. In Uganda, in just Kampala, the capital city, we have over 15,000 children who are living on the streets. That is just one city —

TS: Wow.

IB: One city in Uganda. And you can imagine — we have over 70 districts in Uganda and there are many homeless children all over Uganda, and there are many, many vulnerable children in Uganda. There are children who are abandoned on a daily basis because their mothers cannot afford to look after them. Many children are dying because of malnutrition.

I don’t know whether you watch the news about Uganda. Many children are dying because of malnutrition. They cannot afford a meal a day. Families are struggling. There is a very, very great need. Malaria is killing many children. Even water — it is hard for people, for the communities, to get access to clean water. And people share water in ponds with cows in some parts of Uganda.

And so there’s a very great need for children and for families in particular.

TS: Wow.

IB: Yes, ma’am.

TS: So your children’s home — or your ministry Save Street Children Uganda — you acquired some land that you’ve named Providence Farm. Can you tell us about that?

IB: So in 2015, by the grace of God, our minister was able to get a donation of a very big piece of land.

And we named it Providence Farm because we never expected it. And all of a sudden God provided us land and we said, “This is now God that has provided and it is nobody can take the credit but only God.” And we named it Providence Farm to confirm that we depend on God and that God is the source of every resource for our ministry and that Providence Farm is where now our biggest rehabilitation center or children’s home is. Where we have now three dormitories on Providence Farm property and we are currently having 86 resident children who call Providence Farm their home, their forever home. And these are children who don’t have even relatives, who don’t have anyone that they know. They are children that Providence Farm is the only home that they know.

But beside that, we also have we work with children from the vulnerable community, in the communities of Uganda and in slums of Uganda. And we also have those children whom we have rehabilitated. They have grown. They have graduated. They are either placed with foster families or with living relatives. So that is what our ministry is doing.

TS: That’s amazing. It sounds like you’re having an incredible impact. And so tell me, Providence Farm, it started in, what, year?

IB: 2015.

TS: And then you started having children in your home for the first time — when was that?

IB: Before we are renting a smaller room. And then after we rented a very big property in the city center in Kampala whereby we are rehabilitating children, but on a rented property which was not ours. Now in 2015, God blesses us with land. And we say God has answered our prayers because we have always wanted to become a self-sustaining ministry, to avoid from living hand to mouth.

And we say, Now let’s go and build a one dormitory at Providence Farm. We built one dormitory for girls. We built another dormitory for boys. And then we brought our children from Kampala where they were staying. And we took them to Providence Farm and we built another one. We have also a staff house built there.

We have we have a kitchen. We have a mission’s house on Providence Farm, whereby volunteers, like when you come, will be able to stay. And now at Providence Farm, we have 86 resident children who have full access to basic needs. They are blessed to have three meals a day. They have access to medical care. We have their full-time nurse. They are able to access spiritual discipleship. We we have a full-time pastor and we are also homeschooling our elementary children. They are all being homeschooled at Providence Farm. However, we also have university children who go to universities and during holiday time they come back.

TS: That’s beautiful. So you all are like the parents for these children who don’t have any other families.

IB: We are not like their parents, but we are the parents for these children because they don’t have–

TS: You are the parents.

IB: We are the parents. They don’t have anyone else they know as their father or their mother. But they know us.

TS: Yeah, amazing. How many years was it from the time that you invited those nine children into your home to the time God gave you Providence Farm?

IB: Our first nine children were invited in my single room in 2005.

TS: 2005 to 2015, so it was a 10-year span until God gave you Providence Farm.

IB: Yes.

TS: Beautiful. What do you think are some of the challenges that you’re facing at Providence Farm right now?

IB: My sister, they are many, many challenges. But as you know, though we have these children at Providence Farm, a big number of these children, they don’t have sponsors and we needed to have all of the children sponsored in order for them to be able to continue to receive these basic needs to get the best education that they need.

So getting these children sponsored is our priority. And number two, we are believing God to become a self-sustaining ministry. We are trusting God to build a school at Providence Farm. We want to build a hospital that can serve our children and also the community because in our community there is no hospital at all, and so there is a very big need. We want to build the hospital. Also we want to build the Hope Again center.

TS: Yeah. Tell us about the Hope Again project. What’s that?

IB: The Hope Again project is a project that that works with girls have been rescued from sexual trafficking or sexual exploitation and abuse. These are girls all way abused or raped or trafficked from their homes for sex purposes, maybe on promises of good jobs. And they end up in they end up in the hands of bad people. They sexually abused them. They exploit them. They abuse them. And so we rescued them. We bring them into our our center. They go through a six-month training period where they are being rehabilitated, at the same time being trained with different business trades, with skills that they can go after graduation, they go out and they live an independent life where they are able to earn an income to look after their needs and also some of them are teen mothers. Girls who were who gave birth who were raped, defiled and gave birth at a tender age, and their families chased them away. So that is about about Hope Again.

TS: Wow. Praise the Lord for all that He’s doing through you. I know you’ve told me that he’s even use you to plant eight churches.

IB: Yes.

TS: So we just praise the Lord for what he’s doing in Uganda. Thank you so much for sharing with me.

IB: Thank you so much, my sister Aliya, for having me. It’s a pleasure.

 

Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow her on X @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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