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Ugandan family outside their home

The invisible family

The remarkable story of a family reunited and restored.


Compassion Stories

The invisible family

The remarkable story of a family reunited and restored.

Kenneth was not known, nor was he protected. His father had abandoned the family four years earlier and this seven-year-old boy lived with his mother and five siblings in a tiny, one-room house no larger than a shed in Mbarara, Uganda.

The roof was made of flimsy dry banana tree leaves, the walls were made using mud and sticks with no door or window, and the mud floor was smeared with cow dung. Despite living in a community with other people, it seemed they were invisible.

The family struggled through each day with no food, no bedding and no space. The children were dirty and dressed in tattered clothes. They had little hope for a better day.


Poverty in Uganda


Kenneth’s mother Joniva was overwhelmed by the circumstances her family faced. “When it rained, it felt like we were outside. We would all wake up and sit on one side where it is not raining,” she cried.

Their breakthrough came when the Compassion-assisted project in the area received a new project director. Herbert carried out a home-to-home poverty assessment and said of Kenneth’s living conditions, “The house was almost falling down. I couldn’t imagine having such families in our community.” Herbert knew their story had to change.

Staff at the local church were deeply distressed by the poverty the family faced and they quickly registered Kenneth at the Compassion project. The church also gathered together to offer support, collecting items like beans and soap, and constructing a better house using bricks, cement and iron sheets. Encouraged by their generosity, Joniva gave her life to Christ.

“When she gave her life to Christ, she began coming to church and praying with people. Something changed, and she began to have some hope,” said Herbert.


Mother and son in Uganda


Joniva and her children moved into the house, and everything seemed perfect.
But Joniva missed her husband, Edward. She prayed every day that he would return to her.

One afternoon, Jonvia’s prayer was answered - Edward came back home!

Edward had returned by divine calling. He had been working in Mbarara, having separated from his second wife. One day, while he was working, he heard a voice in his heart, saying, “Go home and be with your kids. Don’t abandon them.”

Edward immediately resigned and went home to Joniva and his children. He said, “She knelt down and greeted me, saying, ‘Have you seen what God has done for us? That was God’s plan through our boy Kenneth!”

Edward was so astounded by the changes in his family and his home that he gave his life to Christ. He also decided to officially marry Joniva.


Family home in Uganda


The family now lives a brand-new life - Edward works as a security guard at the project and volunteers to clean the church compound every day.

Although this family seemed forgotten, God remembered Joniva, Edward and their six children. Through the project staff, He has transformed their lives and restored their relationships.

Corinna Stubbs

Caroline Mwinemwesigwa

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