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Sylvia’s story: Left in charge at age 12



  • July 25, 2019
Photo of Vernon brewer
Vernon Brewer

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Over the past few years, I’ve been able to travel to a number of refugee camps. I’ve sat in tents and listened as men and women shared their stories — stories that involve incredible pain and suffering. Life for a refugee is never easy, but it is the children who are impacted the most.

This is particularly true in the refugee camps in northern Uganda. These camps are full of people who fled for their lives — most of whom are women and children. In many instances, parents have been killed or separated from their children. Left to survive on their own, older children are forced to parent their younger siblings. It is a burden they are not prepared to carry.

Can you imagine your children or grandchildren trying to survive in a refugee camp alone? This is a daily reality for a little girl named Sylvia.  

I met Sylvia in one of the camps, and I’ll never forget her story. I had heard the statistics about the number of orphans in the camp, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw …    

Sylvia was only 12, but she was the sole provider for her younger siblings. Without a mom or dad, she had no other choice. Her small frame struggled to carry the little ones and do all the tasks a parent would — and the intense hunger didn’t make it any easier.

Not long ago, Sylvia’s parents were killed because of war and religious persecution. But Sylvia had no time to grieve. She had to keep her brothers and sisters alive. Every month, Sylvia receives a ration of flour to feed her siblings — but not nearly enough for these children to grow and be healthy.

Sylvia is one of the hundreds of children living without parents in Uganda’s refugee camps. These kids have experienced more pain and tragedy in the past few years than most of us will endure in a lifetime. They have lost parents, friends, siblings, and homes. If they don’t receive help, they will also lose their lives.

Children like Sylvia are hungry. They are thirsty. And they need your help.

As I walked through that refugee camp, I thought about my own grandsons — I would never want them to have to survive on their own like this. I can’t imagine them huddled together in makeshift homes, starving and sick. The day I left, I promised myself that I would share Sylvia’s story — and her need — with you.

Will you help rescue children like Sylvia and other refugees around the world?

Thanks to generous corporate donations and grants, your gift will stretch further and impact more lives than you would have even thought possible. Today, you have the opportunity to multiply your dollar FIVE TIMES as you help refugee children in need.

For just $35, you can send $189 worth of clean water, emergency food, medical aid, clothes, and more to refugees around the world.

Your gift will help children like Sylvia and her siblings survive — and let them know they are not alone in this world.

These children have seen the worst life has to offer. Their needs are simple — basics like food, water, and medical aid to simply stay alive. These are things that girls like Sylvia could never afford since they are too young to work.

No 12-year-old child should have to wonder whether or not she will live to see the next day. Today, you can come alongside these children and remove that uncertainty.

Your gift will make a huge difference in a refugee’s life and provide help for today … and hope for tomorrow.

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