Richard Okii is a 14 year old boy living in Northern Uganda, in a town called Lira. He enjoys playing soccer, dancing, reading, and the color yellow. He is in the 6th grade and hopes to one day become a teacher of students just like himself.
Five days ago Richard received special recognition as one of most intelligent primary school students in the entire country of Uganda.
When Richard Okii was six years old, he lost both of his parents due to HIV/AIDS. After this, Richard was taken in by his grandmother, who could barely support him. For a few years he lived as a day commuter, spending most of his time on the streets and going back to his grandmother’s house to sleep. Eventually Richard’s grandmother could no longer take care of him and he was forced to fully embrace the street life.
Living on the streets of Uganda as a young boy or girl is incredibly difficult. Children almost always become involved in gangs, addicted to drugs, and have to steal to survive. They are seen as the worst of the worst, and almost nobody wants to help them. They sleep in the woods, bundled up in large groups, at risk of lightning storms and large snakes. They have no rights, and because of this they are subject to frequent abuse by the police. At the time of this writing, three weeks ago over 50 children were arrested and beaten in one night. After a few months of living the harsh street life, Uncle Fred was able to take Richard in to live at the SGU Children’s Village and attend Saving Grace Primary School. Richard immediately began to excel in school, especially at his favorite subject, math.
Every year the Uganda Mathematical Society allows schools to submit their brightest students to take an exam which compares them to other students across the country. The top scoring students on this exam, called Paper I, qualify to take another exam, called Paper II. This year Saving Grace Primary School submitted seven students, and of these seven, 4 qualified for Paper II. The second examination took place at Makerere University, which is the biggest university in Uganda, located in the capital city Kampala.When the results came back, Richard was one of the top performers in the entire country! He was awarded a trophy and recognition at a special ceremony at the University.
Richard’s story was not a huge surprise to us here at SGU. Street kids are often found at the top of their classes at Saving Grace Primary School, which is also open to children of the local community. It is amazing to see that these children who were once seen as worthless, desperate, and criminals are now excelling in school and are now expected to shine in their future careers. Richard’s story reminds us that the Lord can use anyone, even a street kid, to accomplish great things. The work that God has done through Saving Grace over the past few years by bringing hope to the hopeless, to street children, is incredible.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…'” – II Corinthians 12:9
If you would like to sponsor Richard through a $30 monthly donation to Saving Grace in Uganda, please shoot us an email.