Before coming to Sebei Children's Home, Lucius Yeko sometimes had no food all day. Both his parents had died of HIV. His grandmother Betty Yapmangusho tried to care for him, but the day came when she could no longer work.
On that day, Betty had walked to the slopes of Mt. Elgon as she usually did, intending to walk deep into the forest. The government permits the locals to collect wood from the forests twice a week. It’s on these days that Betty would collect enough wood to last for several days of cooking over an open fire.
Mt. Elgon is an extinct shield volcano, once the highest in Africa. At one elevation it is heath-covered moorland spiked with giant lobelia, at another it contains natural caves, where elephants come to lick the salt. All around, are the basalt cliffs -- rock columns formed from oozing hot lava that has cooled slowly over time (much, much time).
"They have to climb the cliffs. It's the route to the forest," explains Leonard Lawai.
After climbing the cliffs, collecting and bundling the day's wood, and placing it on her back, Betty began her journey home. With the load on her back tipping from side to side, Betty lost her footing and fell down a rock cliff. With the injuries she sustained, she could no longer work or care for Lucius. From then, he hardly had a meal a day.
Lucius was brought by the local council authorities to Sebei Children's Home. Today at age 11, he is in Primary 4 (about one year behind). He gets heaping plates of food daily, and is experiencing the faithful care of his foster moms at Sebei (who also collect firewood the same way his grandmother did). He is shy, but has a strong purpose within: He would like to become a policeman because he says that he wants to protect the people.