Chris

My eyes fixed on the computer, struggling against the sultry heat of dry season and the bronchus constantly attacked by the dust generated by the dirt road nearby, I had the nice surprise to welcome an unexpected visitor. Taken out of my slumber by a shy and small face discreetly appearing through the door, I couldn’t put a name on it. “Another troublemaker”, I judgmentally guessed, regretting almost instantly such bad thoughts.

It was actually Chris, a former inmate who took part in the training I provided last year in prison. Since then, he started his small poultry business, taking care of keeping good written records as I recommended him. He was just passing by and wanted to thank me. It always feels nice to know that one could help another, especially considering that Chris is very kind, even if he probably did some very bad crap in the past.

I don’t exactly know why Chris ended up in jail, but he spent 15 years and a half behind the bars, a big part of in the “death row” of the high security prison in Luzira, before he sentenced was shortened and he was authorized to finish it in Gulu, near his family. Chris still looks so young. I suppose that the worldwide stupidity of teenagers, a childhood spent running away from armed rebelled groups (it’s very likely that he was abducted himself and trained as a child soldier) as well as endemic poverty pushed him to dark side, a finally strike on an already stolen youth. It is hard for me to blame him, considering the circumstances. Moreover, he could totally have been innocent, as many other inmates that overpopulate Ugandan jails.

With no money, as so many others, he could have just waited in silence in the dreary prison that became his home for so long. Anyway, guilty or not, Chris seem to be fine today. He is happy with his little business and I wish him all the best. I hope he will pass by again from time to time, because he strongly reminded me why I sweat like a pig all day in that office: contribute, as I can, to help those who are forgotten.