Francine*, 41, could be the hardest-working mother in the world. Every day, she cares for 19 children who share her three-room home in the Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Uganda.
Francine was living in a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when fighting erupted. Robbers broke into her home and killed her brother and sister-in-law. Francine decided to take her five children to safety in Uganda. It took three days to reach the border on foot.
Once they had reached safety, it seemed natural to Francine to reach out and help others. “When you belong to a family you have someone who can care for you,” she explains. “Someone who can guide you if you go wrong. But those children who don’t have families, they just behave the way they want to because they don’t have anyone who can correct them.”
She began fostering orphaned children and now has 14 foster kids, who have become part of her original family. “The children are happy staying with me. You can’t know this one is mine and the other isn’t, if I hadn’t told you.” Nyotte*, 11, one of her fostered children, adds: “When I remember the moment I lost contact with my parents, it brings me stress. What makes me happy is when I am here, Francine treats me like the people in my village used to.”
We have supported Francine by helping her to enrol some of the children in school. We’ve also provided soap, clothing, shoes, books and pens for the family, and offered counselling to the children who were left traumatised by the conflict.
Like all mothers, Francine worries about what lies ahead for her children. She wants them to “have a good life. And for them to sleep in a good house and have a good education. And then they can take care of their future life.” Her motivation is simple: “I just feel joy on my part … and I can’t refuse, I can’t say no to anyone.”
You’ve read about the incredible legacy Francine is creating. Why not find out more about the legacy you could leave? https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/leave-a-gift-in-your-will
*Names have been changed to protect identity