From Riches to Rags and Back

From Riches to Rags and Back

By: Brandy Campbell, with Ezra Ndagije in Uganda   |   Posted: January 22, 2009

Compassion Steps in for Boy After Family Falls on Hard Times
Richmond went from a comfortable life with his family to desperate poverty and back again.

Most families in developing countries who live in poverty have experienced no other life. Their grandparents lived in crumbling mud huts. Their parents couldn't find work.

And they trudge along the same path of need. But Richmond wasn't born into poverty. Richmond's father was a prominent lawyer in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

As the third of six children, Richmond enjoyed a comfortable childhood. His life wasn't extravagant, but his family always had enough to eat, and he never worried about where his school fees or clothes would come from.

A Shattered Existence

When Richmond was 8, the life he had known shattered around him when his father was murdered. Richmond's extended family soon arrived, not to offer support but to seize the family's home and property.

Richmond's mother moved her six children to a slum just outside of Kampala, but her health began to fail rapidly. She was too ill to find work. And in the middle of his third-grade year, Richmond had to quit school.

Richmond and his family are a perfect example of how poverty can destroy with no warning, leaving in its path destruction and devastation. But with support from Compassion and his church, poverty wasn't the victor in Richmond's life.

More Than They Dreamed

When Richmond was 9, his mother sought help for her family at the Nakawa Baptist Child Development Center (UG129). The church ran a Compassion-assisted child development center, and soon Richmond and one of his sisters were registered in the program.

Richmond recalls the changes in his life through Compassion as no less than miraculous. "My family expected Compassion to pay for my school fees, but we didn't know how far beyond that the program would go," he says. "The best news for my family was that we all started going to church, where we heard the good news. When I was 14, I accepted Jesus as my Savior."

When Richmond's father was murdered, he thought his hope had died, too. Dropping out of school was one of the hardest, most discouraging experiences of his life, he says. But through that difficult time, he learned what it meant to be delivered.

"When I graduated from high school, I was accepted into the Leadership Development Program," says Richmond. "My mother was so overwhelmed by that, by me going to college, that she made a commitment to the Lord. Every day I see ways that God delivered us after my father died."

Rescuing Others

After graduating from university in Uganda, Richmond was awarded a scholarship at Moody Bible Institute, where he is currently working on his master's degree. He dreams of returning to Uganda someday and starting a discipleship ministry for pastors. 

"I just want to make a difference in the lives of others," says Richmond. "All could have been lost for me. But Compassion stepped in my teachers, pastor and sponsor stepped in and rescued me. I want to do the same for others."

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