Missing Child Story Has "Happy" Ending

Missing Child Story Has "Happy" Ending

By: Erasto Malila, Compassion Tanzania Communications Specialist   |   Posted: May 09, 2006

After being abducted from her home and missing for one year, through prayer, Happy Saruni has been restored to her family and the Compassion project.

Around midnight on May 28, 2001, for some unknown reason, 8-year-old Happy Saruni walked out of her home in the tiny village of Ngaramtony, a community in Arusha, Tanzania. Soon afterwards, she was hit across the face and within moments disappeared. Early the next day, Nasnyari Saruni awoke to find a mother's worst nightmare - her youngest daughter was gone.

A Lost Year

The details of Happy's disappearance are sketchy. Days after her disappearance, local media splashed her photo around and asked for any information. But no one had any. At Compassion's Galilaya Student Center (TZ-103) where Happy attended, they prayed for her constantly. But months passed with no word. While project workers, children and all of Compassion Tanzania were praying for her, Happy was some 50 miles away in Moshi in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Happy was now a "house girl" for a small Muslim family. Though eventually the woman treated Happy like kin, the little girl knew she didn't belong there. Happy remembered the Saturdays she went to the project to play with other Compassion children. She remembered the letters and gifts she had received from her sponsor and, most important, she remembered the Word of God.

At night she prayed, "Please God, bring me home."

Child Lost, God Found

Happy's anguish is shared by thousands of children in developing countries who each year end up missing. Whether the culprit is child trafficking, sexual exploitation or child labor, many poor children are taken from their homes, most of them never to be found again. The children who are missing often come from poor families with little or no resources to help recover them. As a fruit seller and a bicycle repairman, Happy's parents didn't have the means to instigate her recovery. So the family simply depended on God.

One day Happy's "new family" put her on a bus to go visit an "aunt." The bright young girl whispered to the bus driver to stop so she could make a call. When he stopped, she darted off the bus and ran to the police station telling an officer she was lost and wanted to go home.

A Happy Ending

Days later Nasnyari was walking down the street when she thought she saw a ghost, but it was Happy!

"It was a miracle to see Happy alive," she says. "I was shocked and I fainted once I saw Happy walking outside our home."

Nasnyari says all the support she received from project workers and Happy's sponsor was so meaningful because without it Happy would have never had a good home to come back to. "Without Compassion's support, Happy wouldn't be in school right now," she says. "She wouldn't have any basic needs including food and shelter. We just thank God that she has returned and is doing well."

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