Oh sweet Juma . . . such a heartbreaking story to tell.
Juma has been living on the streets for a couple of years. He is 12 years old now. His mom lives in South Africa most of the year and returns to Mozambique for only a few months. She has a husband in South Africa. I remember in 2009 when Juma heard from a family member that his mom would be in Mozambique. He saved all of the money he earned begging so that he could buy nice new clothes and then he went to visit her. A couple of weeks later he returned to the streets so happy that he had seen him mom.
Juma wants nothing more in the world than to live with his mom.
But she just doesn't want to take responsibility for Juma.
I don't get it.
And it breaks my heart.
Juma's mom was recently here in Mozambique again and we went to meet her. We spoke to her about her son and the responsibility she has in taking care of him. When I asked her why she doesn't take Juma to South Africa with her, she simply laughed and said, "what will I do with him there?"
Seeing that his mom was not willing to take care of Juma, we asked her to help us find a family member that he could live with. She agreed to help but never followed through. We finally just showed up at her house again with Juma. During this visit, she agreed that Juma could come back and live with her until she returned to South Africa at which point he would go live with his grandfather.
Juma was so happy as we left that day! He chose the following Thursday, exactly one week later, as his day to return.
Again, Juma spent the whole week saving his begging money to buy new clothes. Thursday arrived and Juma bid farewell to all of his friends at Masana. We drove to his mom's house and arrived to discover that she had left a few days earlier and returned to South Africa.
Juma was crushed. He held it together as we walked back to my car and then the tears began to flow as he faced the truth that his mom had left because she didn't want him.
No child should ever have to face that truth.