TWO weeks ago, I wrote about the plight of the 11-year old Entebbe boy named J.I. who was brutally assaulted sexually by a neighbourhood youth councillor. In addition to the grievous harm he suffered, J.I. was expelled from his school because the school d
TWO weeks ago, I wrote about the plight of the 11-year old Entebbe boy named J.I. who was brutally assaulted sexually by a neighbourhood youth councillor. In addition to the grievous harm he suffered, J.I. was expelled from his school because the school did not want its name â€˜soiledâ€™.
When I read that story I reacted as a father of two boys and as an educator who daily works with children here in Toronto.
The story also touched many readers who responded with firm support. I met J.I. and his mother on Tuesday, April 21 in Entebbe where with the generous help of Stanbic Bank officials, we established the J.I. Trust Fund at the Entebbe Stanbic Main Branch. Here then is the update of where things stand at the moment. On Saturday, before flying out of Entebbe, I spent a couple of hours with J.I. and his family.
I arrived shortly after 2:00pm at the humble brick home that J.I. shares with his three older sisters, one younger sister and their hardworking mother. The family met me warmly at the door of the house. J.I.â€™s little sister J.F. initiated a song of welcome and the rest of the family joined in, including J.I. It was a beautiful song that was carried by the wind outdoors to the neighbourhood. With the song out of the way, I met the familyâ€”a very tight family I must add.
We chattedâ€”mostly me and J.I.â€™s motherâ€”about different things while the rest listened in. J.I. meanwhile displayed a sense of humour by cracking jokes every so often. He had a refreshing way of observing situations, and commenting on them. He is a very smart boy and will succeed in schoolâ€”that was the conclusion I arrived at. He just needs a lot of support right now.
The family asked me a lot of questions about my own family, my two boys, Oceng and Ogaba, and my wife, Emily. When I asked J.I. what he wanted to do in future, he responded promptly that he wanted to be an engineer. I asked him if he was good in Math and Science, and he said he enjoyed both subjects and was doing well in them. I told him that a lot of people were behind him, supporting him and wanting to see him recover fully. Then as a teacher would counsel his pupil, I told him that the sexual attack was not his fault. It really was the case of an adult taking advantage of a trustful child and abusing that trust. He should not be burdened by guilt, I reassured him. He nodded that he understood, and we left the matter there.
As we conversed, what struck me was the sincerity of the family. It was quite apparent that though the children were being raised by a single mother, they were well cared for, proud, hardworking and most important, still believed in the goodness of the world out there. I told J.I.â€™s mother that I was surprised by the funds donated by complete strangers who will never know what J.I. looks like, but who nevertheless were moved to do something to help him recover from the sexual attack. The total amount donated to date is sh830,000.
J.I.â€™s mother was so moved she could only muster the sentenceâ€”God is behind this. She told me that the family had decided to send J.I. to a different school, perhaps a boarding school in another area. The annual school fees could be higher than the family could ever afford, she told me. I told her that the community would rally around her to help educate J.I. She could certainly count on me and Emily doing our share to support J.I. in school.
An hour and a half flew by, and it was time for me to leave. We took some photos togetherâ€”the entire family and then just me and J.I. Then I waved good-bye and left for the airport, just a scant four kilometres away.
Along the way, I stopped at Entebbe Police Station where I met OC/CID Entebbe Officer Julius Ogweng. He had J.I.â€™s file on his desk, and told me that Police had been pursuing additional investigations after new information came out. â€œWe are confident that the alleged perpetrator will be re-arrested shortly, and you can be assured we will not let him out of our sight,â€ he said. He told me there was a good chance that the charge sheet would be amended to reflect the defilement (rape) of a minor by an adult.
Indeed, this weekend, when contacted, Officer Ogweng told me that the alleged offender was re-arrested and that the charges were now amended to indicate defilement. The accused man appeared in court on Monday, and was remanded in custody at Kigo Prison until May 18.
J.I. meanwhile continues to receive treatment. He is also preparing to return to a new school. He spent yesterday shopping for new school items. Indeed, for me, what started out as an exercise in responding to a horrendous attack against a child has become a commitment to the boy.
Through it all, what amazes me is the support from complete strangers who are responding so willingly without strings attached to help J.I. recover. Because of the ongoing court case against the accused offender, J.I. urgently needs a lawyer willingly to work pro bonoâ€”without pay.
All you wonderful lawyers out there please e-mail me today. Meanwhile, I ask you generous readers to open your wallets, purses and hearts to donate any amount to the J.I. Trust Fund below. It is money well spent. Account Title: J.I.Trust Fund Account Number: 0121457180501
Branch: Stanbic Bank Entebbe Main Branch. Remitters abroad should advise their bankers to pay: Stanbic Bank Uganda, BIC: SBICUGKX
JI is doing fine, paedophile suspect has been remanded