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Ugandan Street Kid to American Foster Dad

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 2, 2022 3:00 am

Ugandan Street Kid to American Foster Dad

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 2, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, in Kevin Samy's father's village in India, they actually had to call in a person from another village to teach their children to read. Their chalkboard was the dirt floor of the building they learned in. He'd eventually move to the United States and become an engineer. Kevin Samy shares his family's remarkable American dream story. Peter Mutabazi was born on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. He escaped an abusive father by running away to the capital of Uganda, Kampala, where he lived on the streets for 4 years and never slept more than 2 hours... until one day he met a stranger that would change his life forever. You can find more of Peter's story at

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Time Codes:

00:00 - "In My Father's Village, Nobody Could Read...He Moved to America and Became an Engineer"

10:00 - Ugandan Street Kid to American Foster Dad

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Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Rob West and Steve Moore

This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And we'd love to hear your stories.

Send them to Up next, a story from Kevin Sami, the son of Indian American immigrants who appeared in Forbes 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy in 2016. Today, Kevin shares with us the story of his family's love for the sport he played, football, and why they value his education so much.

Take it away, Kevin. You know, I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I am first generation Indian American. So my mom and dad, they emigrated from rural South India. My dad came to the United States to do his doctorate. He ended up moving to Ohio to work at a company as an engineer and that's where I was born.

And I had what I believe is a pretty archetypal Midwest upbringing in a lot of ways. I played football in high school and I ended up playing in college too. I don't think I would have if not for the fact that I grew up so close to the Hall of Fame and the culture there was so deeply steeped in football.

I didn't know I would be as good as I was. Playing in college is difficult to do and I say that to give credit to everyone who makes it to Division I ball. You know, my parents, they really wanted to learn the game after I became interested in it, after I started to do well and I got looks from colleges. I was, you know, all state for two years in the state of Ohio, which is, you know, known for good football. It went from me trying my hand in it to there would be Indian families that would come from different parts of the state and around the region who'd come watch my high school games just as a function of being now interested in this game.

They didn't have any other reason to be, let's say, before. During the Thanksgiving, the Turkey Bowl, the Thanksgiving game that NFL plays every year, all of the Indian families would come to my house because my dad would teach them the rules, teach them how the game worked. There are fewer things I feel more strongly about in terms of what have shaped me than the game of football. I very much grew up in the way that I think we all hope America to be. One that is not always but predominantly accepting of difference, where this sort of multicultural experiment is more or less working. I mean, Google co-founder was a refugee, but an enormous amount of American winners of Nobel Prizes are immigrants. It's an amazing place where that type of reality exists.

I should say segue into my parents. I mean, part of the reason I got involved in politics latched on to Barack Obama's candidacy is he talked about his famous DNC speech that really launched him into the public ether, talked about his father's family farming goats in Kenya. My dad's family farm goats in India. India is a fascinating place, largest democracy on the planet. The caste system in India was a vestige of British rule, and it doesn't officially exist. But the caste system is still a kind of unfortunate vestige of the past that has some kind of relevance in modern Indian society. And so my family is from a relatively lower caste. We are not from the higher caste, if you will.

The reason I say that is, you know, I am from a lineage of meat-eating farmer South Indian people, uneducated. My mom and dad were the first in their families to really go to school. My father was the first to go to any school, let alone higher education. He grew up in a village with no running water, no electricity.

Nobody could read. It was an illiterate community. There was a neighboring village where there was one guy that used to call him in my parents' mother tongue, Tamil. They used to call him the reading uncle because he was the one guy within, you know, however many mile radius that could kind of read. So people would bring him letters or the very small amount of things that needed to be read.

They'd bring him that collateral, that content to translate or to read for them. There's a moment in my dad's childhood where there were a handful of little kids, one of which was him. And some of the parents thought to themselves, look, let's pay this guy a few rupees a month to teach our kids basic Tamil, basic literacy. They kind of hollowed out a little clay less than 500 square foot space that was a temple with some old idols and things in there that God knows how long they've been there. They took some things out and they'd bring sand from the river bed to coat the floor so it was fresh and soft and malleable. And they would use their fingers to write in the sand as a chalkboard and to do letters and numbers. And when the sand was coarse, when it was a hotter day or it wasn't soft anymore, their fingers would bleed.

And so it's kind of an indigenous vegetable in an area that they would crack open and they would put on their fingers like thimbles and to protect them after they started to bleed to keep continuing their lessons. That's how my dad learned how to read. He ended up going to a nearby government school that was 13 kilometers away.

His father, my grandfather, saved money for a year to buy a bike so he could bike there. One thing led to the next to the next and education was really a way out of that type of poverty. I'll just say, you know, very much so the American dream.

I mean, he came to the United States to give his family a better shot, to sort of raise the quality of life by an order of magnitude. I think my appreciation for being American is so rooted in that. And how is it, you know, I don't blame people for not knowing.

I wish, I wish I could show them. But how is it that you can't appreciate the value of a place like the United States when you can see how far you can go? It is that possibility that is what makes this place special. And yeah, I know I spoke a little about football, but the game meant so much to me.

It really built me. And a special thanks to Faith Buchanan and Monty Montgomery for the editing and post-production of this story. And a special thanks also to Kevin Sami for sharing in the end his father's and mother's story and the American dream story that so many immigrants come here to pursue. And today, Kevin works at R0, a company moving the ball forward on biosafety. To find out more about what he's up to at that company, go to

That's How can you not appreciate or value this country when you see how far you can come, said Kevin about America. His father, well, no running water in his community, the first in his family to even have the ability to read. Comes to America, becomes an engineer, and that next generation, oh my goodness, you know the rest of the story.

You just heard it. A terrific story about the American dream, about poverty, about immigration, and about the ability of America to absorb different people from different places. Kevin Sami's story here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns. But we truly can't do this show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to and click the donate button.

Give a little, give a lot. Go to and give. And we continue with Our American Stories. Up next, we bring you a story that begins across the ocean in Africa, but winds up being a true story of faith, generosity, and citizenship based here in the United States. Here to share his story is Peter Mutabazi.

I'm from a small village at the border of Uganda and Rwanda. My name is Peter Mutabazi Habiamana. Mutabazi is my dad's name and Habiamana is the name that I was given at the age of two. You know, for most moms, you know, we name our kids before they're born. As soon as we know we are pregnant or expecting, you know, we look for names. But in my time, in my village, moms were not able to do so.

In my village, most kids would die before the age of two. So most moms did name their kids, not because they didn't love them, but they weren't sure they would make it. And so they didn't give us a name until we were a little bit older. So at two, I was given a name, Habiamana, which means a gift given to me by God.

That's what my mom named me. I come from a village, you know, where life was miserable in every shape, form you could imagine. Grew up in a home where no one ever told me to be hopeful or grew up in a home where really tomorrow wasn't guaranteed.

You know, and here are the reasons why. Think about as a mom, if you cannot feed your child for a day, how do you tell them they have a future? And that was me, you know, at the age of four, I knew I can go fetch water, you know, three to four miles away just for us to have drinking water.

And so as a kid, that's all I did. Think about that you have to walk four miles one way and four miles back. Do you ever have time to go to school?

Absolutely no. My family needed more, you know, they needed water that they needed me to go to school. But also they could not afford me to go to school. Also, you know, I grew up from a family that are farmers. In other words, you know, we call ourselves subsistence farmers, which means we only grow what we consume. You know, we didn't have enough meals. I can remember we had a meal every other day. And me, you know, to us a meal was beans and potatoes.

And if we are lucky, we could have both, but most of them would have one of them so we can spare one for the next day. So that's all I knew as a kid, you know, of misery and hardship. But it wasn't just me. It was every child in that village that worked hard.

We all went to fetch water miles and miles away. So I took it as a norm that this is a normal life in some way. But then at the age of five, four, I began to realize that we were different. That my dad was different from any other dad I knew. That my dad was just so mean, abusive to me and abusive to my mom and to my siblings as well. I never had kind words from my dad like any other kid. You know, we worked so hard to please our dads.

You go fetch water for days and hours and go look for firewood. And you would hope your dad would say, son, that was a great job you did. To me, no. You know, I think all I had from my dad, I was garbage. I would never amount to anything.

I am useless. You know, the dogs in my neighborhood were worthy or worth more than I was. And those are the things I had from my dad every day. And if it wasn't my, you know, coming towards me, it was going through my mom. And as a, you know, five-year-old, I could not protect my mom. Misery is all I knew.

And I never wanted to see tomorrow because today was hard enough that I really didn't want to repeat it the next day. And that was my life, you know, from the age of zero to 10, 11 as a kid in my village. You know, so at the age of 10, I think I was, life had become so miserable. And I think as you grow older, you understand abuse harsher and harder in some way. You know, those words that I had every day that I would never amount to anything.

You know, now they were striking me, you know, deep down the core of myself, you know. But also, I think I hated my dad so much that I thought, look, to give him a reason to kill me, that is a gift, you know. And I think at the age of 10, I said, look, I would rather go die in the hands of someone else than my dad. So, you know, I didn't know where I was going, but also I wasn't looking for a future. But I think I was looking in some way to die in the hands of a stranger than my own dad.

So I had never been 20 miles away from my village. You know, I ran away to the bus station at 3 in the morning and I asked the lady, hey, of all these buses here, which goes the farthest? And the reason why I was asking was I needed to go as far as I could that I knew if he met me, if he found me, that he would take my life. So running as far as I could was all that I needed. So the lady told me, that one, you know, I got on that bus.

I can tell you it could not, it wasn't traveling enough, you know, and had never been in a car in some way. So I was scared to death. I was little, but at the same time there was a joy to look back and see that I was leaving my village, that I was leaving that man who had, you know, caused harm and somewhere that I detested and hated so much. I didn't know where I was going, but there was a glimpse of I don't have to hear him anymore. I don't have to take his physical abuse anymore.

I don't have to listen to my mom crying from his abuse. Like, I cannot hear this anymore. So there was a joy, you know, in some way of leaving. I didn't know really where I was going. And finally I made it to Kampala. You know, the journey took, you know, took about 14, 16 hours and ended up in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, which is about 500 kilometers away from my village. And I knew I was fine enough, but also I knew, hey, I'm in a new city.

I have no idea. I don't speak the language. I've never been here, but I got one thing to make, to make it through the day. Coming from home, it was survival day by day. On the streets, it was survival hour by hour. I remember, I don't think I ever slept at one point for more than two hours, just to make it.

You know, I think I slept less than two hours for four and a half years. I was on the streets because it wasn't safe. I got to meet other street kids and I knew, you know, that I had found family and that I became my family. So I, you know, right away I became a street kid and I learned how to survive. And yes, the abuse on the streets was harsher and we had to survive hour by hour. But there were strangers, you know, they called me garbage. They called me, you know, names that you call any useless animal.

But at the same time, I was hearing them from strangers that didn't matter to me or that I didn't care about. And I learned to survive. And as street kids, we learned how to work hard, you know. Working hard was to help people so we can earn the right to be on the streets. You know, the work ethic is one thing I knew how to do, you know. But also, to be honest, it was easier to steal while you're helping. You know, if people need cheap labor, they weren't paying you. So all you could do is help, but in the process of helping, you would steal what you need. So at the end of the day, you would have enough to eat.

And that's how we survived. You know, back in Uganda, we didn't beg for money. You know, most people don't make a dollar a day.

You don't beg for money, but you work so you can earn the right. But also, work so hard so you felt you're useful to the strangers who needed your help in some way. But also for us as street kids, it provided a venue and a place to find food and to feel safe, you know. For us, commotion and where there were people, we felt we can be safe within that environment. And so marketplaces became our home. We lived on the streets where they threw all the garbage. So that meant there were stray animals, there were dogs, you know. There were vultures that were all looking for food, just like us, you know. And people were mean sometimes, so we would do some work and they would refuse to give us food.

Or they would rather throw it away to the garbage, and that's where we had to go get it. In order for them to get rid of us from where they were, they would throw away the food in the garbage for us to go find it so we can go. But that meant to struggle to eat with the dogs. That meant to fight it with the vultures. You know, and I don't know how I survived, you know, eating the most horrible food but somehow make it through the day. You know, that's truly for the grace of God, to be honest. But it was a way to survive. It was a way to make it through the day.

And that became my new life. And you're listening to Peter Mutabatsi tell the story of his harrowing childhood in the worst possible circumstances a person could grow up. His mother and mothers in his village wouldn't even name kids until they had reached a certain decent age.

Because most died before they were two. Unimaginable. An abusive father on top of it. And he escapes to the streets of Kampala, where he finds community with fellow refugees from the villages to the streets.

And community and family with those kids. When we come back, more of Peter Mutabatsi's story here on Our American Story. And we're back with Our American Stories and the story of Peter Mutabatsi. His book, Now I Am Known, is available on Amazon, at local bookstores, wherever you get your books. Peter was born in Uganda in poverty and ran away to Kampala, Uganda's capital, to escape an abusive father where he lived on the streets.

Back to Peter. You know, this is strange, but if someone was kind to us, we were not, we didn't go towards that. Because we knew anyone who was kind, especially for me, anyone who was kind would also come with abuse. So we weren't trusting, we didn't trust people. So one day I am sitting with my friends, you know, we see someone wearing glasses and smart and clean and speaking English.

So we always knew that was a target. So for me, I saw him, I was like, I got my target, he's going to buy food, I'm going to help him, and then I'm going to steal some and I'm going to go, you know. So I followed him, he bought food.

And as soon as he bought what he was buying, I think it was bananas and sweet potatoes. And so I went to him, I said, I'm going to carry these things to your car. But before I could do that, he said, hey, what's your name? And that rattled me. I had lived on the streets for four and a half years. No one at any point during that time ever asked me what my name was.

No one. And so I stopped and, you know, I told him my name is Peter. And I, you know, of course I tried to help him.

And before I could take it, he had something to eat and he gave me something to eat. And I was surprised, you know. And so he left.

I didn't buy into it, you know. Most people were kind, as I said. They were mean at the same time, so I was waiting for him to be mean. But he left. Well, the next week I saw him again. So the second time I saw him, you know, he gave me something to eat. And he called me by name, which was really kind of cool, you know. So he left.

The third time, I was like, wait a minute. I know what day he comes. I know what car he drives. I know what he buys. And I know where he goes.

So I was assured every Monday that he was coming to the city. So that's how I got to know him. Though he was kind, though he helped me, I kept a distance. Remember, anyone who was kind always came with abuse. So for me, I was waiting for abuse. Like, I didn't trust him. Though he was kind, I didn't trust him because I was waiting for the bad part to come. I was waiting for, you know, for the abuse to come. But it never came. So for one year and a half, he gave me something to eat.

And sometimes it will bring more for other kids. And so one day he said, hey Peter, if you had an opportunity to go to school, who do you go to school? You know, and I was like, wait, me? A garbage boy? A useless boy?

A kid who would never amount to anything? Me go to school? You know. And I did not believe him. But man, every time he came and said, hey, I would like to take you to school if you like to. And then finally I said, absolutely. And the reason why I said yes, it wasn't because I wanted to be somebody. You know, my family, we didn't have so many educated people that I wanted to be like, no.

For me, for the first time in my entire life, someone saw me as a human being. Well, he gave me clothes to wear and he told me I was going to a boarding school. But before he could take me, he said, hey, there are two things that are going to happen. One, you're going to be part of the local church. Then the other one is there will be meals for you. There will be lunch, breakfast, and dinner. I think I didn't hear anything else, but I had the meal.

That's all I heard. So as we went, you know, I really looked at him and I said, you know, four kids, why me? Like, why are you doing this for me? And he looked at me and I said, you know, boy, I just want to be faithful. That's all.

I really want to be faithful. But I did not understand what he meant, you know. So finally we make it to school. And it was lunchtime. They gave me something to eat and he said there'll be dinner. So for me, I waited for the next meal. I really didn't think about school.

I didn't think about anything. And I slept there for one night. And then because before I left, I told the other street kids like, hey, if you don't see me in the next 24 hours, when you see this man, harm him. Please harm him. That means either he killed me or something happened.

So payback time. So I slept and the following night I had to come back to the city because I wanted to tell them that I was okay because I knew they would harm him if I didn't come back. So I came back and said, hey, I'm okay.

He put me in school and I really like it. There's food, so I'm going back for food. So I went back and in the process of waiting for a meal, I think I realized that in order to do this, I needed to go to class, you know. So then I started going to class and then I realized that I was smart. Not only was I just good at finding food, but I knew also that I was smart in school as well.

And after a while, you know, I was there for six months. He said, you know, you can be part of our family. And that really began to change my life, you know, because the teachers, the social workers that were coming alongside began to see the best in me. They saw potential that I didn't see in myself, and I think for me that truly began to change my world on how I looked at things, you know. And then the one thing he did, once he brought me to his family, they would use words of affirmation that I had never had before. They would say things like, Peter, you matter.

I'm like, well, what? Me? I matter? You know, this one day he was going to the city and he was taking me with me. I always knew sitting in front was for the important people, you know, that I wasn't worthy of sitting in front with him. I always sat in the back, but this time he said, Peter, can you sit in front? And I said, no, I don't deserve to sit in front. I need to sit in the back. And he looked at me and said, Peter, no, you belong to this family.

You sit in front. Man, I can remember those words to this day, kind of removed the scales of shame, the scales of what I'd been told all my life, that I was nobody, that I would never amount to anything, because they saw more in me than I saw in myself. Finally, I finished high school, and then I went to university in Uganda, and then I got a scholarship to go study in England. You know, so after England, then I went back to Uganda and I was working for the International Committee of Red Cross. And my job was to work as a radio operator to make sure that food on planes and trucks was moving from Kenya to Sudan. And so one day I wanted to visit the, you know, the refugee camp. So I went there and while I was there, I saw this 18-year-old boy, shirtless, white, he was the only white kid ever.

So I was like, man, what are you doing here? He said, my name is Luke and I'm here to help the refugees. And I got to know him and I said, hey, you know, I dated an American, so if you come to Kampala, please come and have clean water and we'll make sure you're okay. And so he came and stayed with us for about two months. And then he went back to United States.

And when he got back in the U.S., he said, you know, he said, Peter, there's a school I go to. I think I would like to really help you get a scholarship to come and study here. And I was like, man, I'm not sure I can afford it.

He's like, no, leave it up to me. I will do the best I can. And here I was, you know, from one stranger and it's like, you got more potential in life. And so he got me a scholarship to come and study here in the United States.

And so I went to school for four years and then I was hired at the end, you know, to be an advocate for children with Compassion International. And so I get to travel with key note speakers and, you know, reverends and all people to show them the work of compassion all over the world. And so not only did I travel, you know, to my 20 countries I had traveled in, but now I had an opportunity to travel to 101 countries, which was absolutely mind-blowing, you know, from a strict kid in Kampala who didn't think about tomorrow.

There I was jumping from one country to the other, which was really fascinating. But all I wanted was to truly be a voice for the unseen, the unhard, the ones that we don't know, that I wanted them to know their story through telling my own story, that people would help them. And so that became my job for 10 years. And what a story you've been listening to from Peter Mutabasi. He lived on the streets for four and a half years when a man asked him what his name was. And it was the first time it had happened to him. And of course that act of kindness he assumed would always be followed by an act of abuse. In fact, that kept on persisting until it didn't. And when this man offered up the kindness of free school, Peter asked, why me?

And he answered, boy, I want to be faithful. When we come back, more of this remarkable story of faith, of love, of a stranger, here on Our American Stories. with a Winix air purifier. Get 20% off on with code SUMMER. You're only one step away from allergy freedom.

That's code SUMMER for 20% off at And we're back with Our American Stories and the final portion of Peter Mutabasi's story. After being adopted himself, Peter eventually ended up working for the international humanitarian organization Compassion International. and advocated for children living in the very same poverty he experienced growing up. His work took him around the world, but his home base was the United States.

Let's return to Peter. Well, so when I came to the United States, I think I struggled. I would visit people and then, you know, most families where I come from, you know, our homes are as big as the American garage and there's seven to 12 people that live in that garage, you know. So when I walk into these homes, they were huge, but they were empty. There were only like two people living in. I'm like, but why?

There must be kids in the neighborhood that are truly looking for a place to be. So I think from that conviction, I wanted to somehow leave what someone did for me, that he saw the need of kids on the streets of Kampala, but he didn't walk away. But he wanted to do something. And he happened to help one, and that one happened to be me, that I wanted to do the same, you know.

Look 1248, too much is given, much is required. Like, I felt I had been given so much that I wanted to give back as well, you know. So I, you know, I think it was a promise in my head like, God, if you ever give me an extra bedroom, I'm gonna help a child, you know.

So that's when it came. So I bought a house, quit my job where I was working with Compassion International, and then I moved to Oklahoma because it was cheaper to live in Oklahoma, but also a good place to learn to be a foster parent. And so I walked in the foster care system and said, hey, I would like to mentor children.

Is there any way you could help, you know, help me, or any way I could be of help? And the reason why I thought of mentoring was I had traveled with people adapting in India, in Ethiopia, in China, and in Uganda. I had never seen a black person like me doing so.

I had never seen a male doing so. So in my head, I think I believed a lie. I thought, I don't qualify because I'm single, and I don't qualify because I'm black. So when I walked in, it was more like, okay, here's the list you can let me be.

Be a mentor. And the social worker looked at me and said, have you ever thought of being a foster dad? I was like, wait a minute, I don't qualify. I'm single.

She's like, so? Man, I was like, you mean I can foster? That day, I mean, literally that day I signed up to be a foster dad because now I had been helping kids in other countries.

I would go see and help, but come back. But this time I wanted it to be part of my everyday life. And so four months later, you know, I had my first placement, you know. I had my first child, and that began the whole journey. And I knew how it felt to be neglected. I knew how it felt to have your own parents be your worst enemies.

I knew what it meant to be called garbage every day. And also, I knew what it meant to live in a place where you did not feel it was your home. I lived that every day that I thought I can impact at least one child. And so it's been a great journey that I've had. I have two kids now, and right now I have six in my home.

And it's been hard, but it's been a joy for sure, you know. I've adopted one, my son Anthony, and I'm in the process of adopting my three other ones, you know. And I counted a blessing for sure, you know, that a one-street kid in Uganda that had no food, had no hope, that I can give hope. So I had fostered about 10, 11 kids, and, you know, they had all gone back to their families. So I think I was, you know, I was demoralized, kind of, you see kids coming, we want them to go to their parents, absolutely.

But when you do it over and over, it kind of leaves you empty and not angry, but just in pieces. So my number 10 and 11 had gone home on a Monday, and I told my social worker, I said, look, I really need a break. I need a three-month break.

Like, I cannot do this. And she said, okay, this is Monday. On Friday, I get a phone call.

Hey, sir. I was like, sister, it's not three months yet. And she's like, hey, there's a kid at the hospital that really needs help.

Could you keep him just for the weekend? And I said, absolutely, I would do so, but please do not tell me why in the foster care, because I didn't want to be attached. So finally he came at three in the morning.

You know, the social worker had to leave really quickly. I mean, he was in my house 20 minutes, and I told him, hey, my name is Peter Mutabazi, but you can call me Peter because my African name is kind of hard. And he looked in my eyes and he says, hey, but can I call you my dad? I'm like, hell, no, no, you can't call me that. But in my head, I think I was more like every kid I've had had called me dad, and they have all gone. So you cannot be in my house for 20 minutes and call me dad.

And also, I know you're leaving on Monday, so I don't want to be associated. I don't want to be called dad right now. And then he looked back at me and said, you know, I was told since now I'm 11, I can choose who my father should be, and I choose you. Man, I was like, this kid doesn't listen, does he?

So I said no. So finally they came to pick him up on Monday. So this time after I signed the paperwork, I asked the social worker, I said, okay, so can you tell me the story? You know, why is he in the foster care?

Because I knew I have no responsibilities right now since he's up to go. And then the social worker said, hey, you know, he was in the foster care when he was one and a half, and then he was placed with a family, and this family adopted him at four. And then this same family that adopted him at four, they just dropped him at the hospital. They never said goodbye. They never gave him a reason why they didn't want it anymore.

They never said one thing. They just left and went to the county and signed off their parental rights. I mean, you should have seen me just crying because I think it took me to when I was 11, you know, 10, running away as a kid from my own family, to see this kid that he had been giving hope for nine years, and for some reason they just dropped him at the hospital and they did not want him anymore. And I think I felt I was doing the same, like I've always wanted to be a dad, and he's a kid who just somehow knew I would be his dad, and he called me by his name, Dad, like, I just can't let him go. And so I told the social worker, I said, hey, you give me his paperwork. I think he already knew I would be his dad. So, you know, let me take him. And so from there I knew he would be my son, and two years later he got to be adopted and we shared the same last name.

And it's cool, you know. Most people ask me, man, he's lucky to have you. I'm like, no, I'm the lucky one. He chose me to be his dad, and forever I'll be grateful, for sure, you know. Just like that, from a weekend respite to a family forever. So recently I became an American citizen.

So think about it. It took me 17 years to be an American citizen, you know. In 2019 I finally became a U.S. citizen. It was really awesome, you know, that I could finally cross that line.

I never thought I could, you know, and it's truly been a joy, you know. I think even being a foster parent has really helped me in some way to feel like, this is my country, these are my people, this is my community, that I feel indebted to this country to do the best I can and to help others as well, but also to come alongside those that need us the most and contribute to the society. Like, I feel they have given me a place to breathe, a place to be free, a place to do things that I will never do, but also a place that I need to be responsible for that as well. To give back, to be a responsible citizen, and contribute to what I can. And for me, fostering and advocating for kids, you know, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and anywhere in the United States, is my next goal. Like, my dream is truly to advocate for kids. You know, my dream, I would like to have a bigger house so I can have 20 more teenagers that I will provide a home for them, you know. My dream is so I can have a place where they can feel they are safe and loved, you know.

I live in Markhamburg County. There's 800 kids in the foster care system. There's only 60 families that are foster parents. Think about 800 kids, 60 foster parents, that's crazy, you know, that I feel it's my community to truly say I will step in and do what I can to help. You know, for those 800 that are looking for a place to be, I cannot take them all. But if I can help one, I've done my part. Or if I can encourage someone else to think through and help one of them, then I've done my part. Or if I can help someone and inspire them to help another family so they are able to do that or come alongside, then I've done my part that we can all take part, you know, or even advocating for them through our legislature and say we want to help the kids so they can have a better future. This is our community.

To do what we can to do, we ought to help those in need. And a terrific job on the production, editing, and storytelling by Robbie Davis. And a special thanks to Peter Mutabatsy. His remarkable book, Now I Am Known, is available at local bookstores or Amazon or wherever you get your books. And what a story to tell about love, about love of a stranger, and what a heart this man has. And on his heart was working to take care of and advocate for kids, so many kids without fathers, so many kids without love. Here's an answer. Our show does one thing, to inspire you to imitate a guy like Peter, just one of you listening. This show is worth all the years we've been on air. The story of Peter Mutabatsy, here on Our American Story.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 15:50:11 / 2023-02-17 16:06:38 / 16

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