HALO Founder Rebecca Welsh writes:
“It was a little over 10 years ago. Freshly pumped with vaccines, I shoved all the art supplies, clothing, and granola bars I could into my dingy backpack. I lie there in my bed, eyes wide open, and sure of only one thing – I was being called to Africa and India. 3 flights and a few days later, I found myself standing in the middle of the chaotic streets of Kampala, Uganda. I spent weeks visiting orphanages all over the country, and faces of hundreds of street kids filled my brain. A handful of these children were chosen to be in the HALO Family. With the help of Kristen Vogel, the first International Ambassador for HALO, we were able to start a home, which grew to 5 homes, and is now 9 HALO Homes and a Learning Center in Uganda.
Alice. She was in that very first handful of HALO children in Uganda. The day I met her, she walked me through a slum to her Aunt Margaret’s shack. The ripe smell of poverty surrounded us. Aunt Margaret stopped sweeping her mud floor, opened her tattered door and warmly welcomed us in her home with a warm cup of tea. We sat around a tiny rugged table as told Alice’s heartbreaking story. Both of her parents died when she was very young. Aunt Margaret did everything she could to support Alice and her siblings, but her health was declining and she was struggling to provide even the basics for her. She begged us to take Alice in and give her the chance to go to school, the chance at a better future. She told us Alice was smart, but we had no idea just how smart she was.
We said yes to Alice. And there Alice sat on the floor, in a tiny one room shack, with a smile brighter than the sun.
The odds were stacked against Alice but even as a little girl, she had a quiet, graceful, strong confidence about her. She put her head down, studied, and quickly moved to the top of her class. She dreamed of being an accountant. She had no means to make this dream a reality, and according to others almost no right to dream it, but she persisted.
She graduated from high school and earned a full college scholarship from HALO and another organization. And four years later, she graduated with an Accounting degree from Makerere University in Uganda. Alice defied the odds.
Alice had the confidence to dream. And just as Alice’s dreams came true, so did one of mine.
HALO recently had an accounting position open in Kampala. Alice applied. If you would have told me that day sitting in Aunt Margaret’s shack that Alice would be working for HALO in 10 years, I don’t know what I would have done. But I have always said, “One day, these kids are going to be running HALO. One day.” That day is here. Alice, the young girl with the smile brighter than the sun. The girl who tragically lost her parents at such a young age. The girl with that quiet, graceful, strong confidence, is now officially the newest member of HALO’s team. She is now working to help one more child, who lives the life she did, spend one less day alone.
Oh, Alice. Your story gives us the confidence to dream. Thank you for filling the world with the brightest smile it has ever seen. Your HALO Family loves you across the world and back.”
Joining HALO was the turning point of my life, it provided me a family, and a home I never had. It did not only support me financially but emotionally as well and lifted my self esteem and restored hope in me. To me, working with HALO is a great opportunity to give back to the community where I came from, a community where no one believed in me and where every one looked down on me. Each child rescued each day reminds me of my self and that’s where I get the strength to push and work harder under HALO to prevent one more child from spending one more day alone.–Alice, HALO Uganda