Peter Mutabazi grew up in rural Uganda. At just ten years old, he ran away from home to escape his abusive father.
"Life was miserable in every shape and form you could think of," Peter explained. "From my early childhood, there was no future."
Peter says his mother did not name him until he was two years old.
"Why? Because for every hundred children born in my village, 60 would die before the age of two. So my mom was afraid to give me a name because she wasn't sure that I'd make it."
For five years, Peter lived on the streets, begging and stealing food to survive.
"We had a strategy. I steal two bananas. Someone else steals two potatoes. At the end of the day, we had enough to eat for all of us," said Mutabazi. "We would hang out in groups of the same age. That's how we made it."
Peter was eventually able to make his way off the streets thanks to the help of one man.
"One day, I saw this gentleman. He was wearing khakis and glasses and spoke English, so I knew he was a good target. I followed him to steal from him while I'm helping him, and before I could do it. He was like, 'Hey, what's your name?' For four and a half years, no one had ever asked me my name," said Peter. "He asked me my name. And I was like, wait, what? You wanna know my name? Someone wants to know my name?"
For Peter, this was a red flag. Anytime someone was kind in his life, it was typically followed up with abuse.
"But he didn't. He gave me something to eat. He called me by my name. He got to know me, and he fed me for a year and a half," said Peter. "One day he said, if you had an opportunity to go to school, would you go to school?"
This one person not only supported Peter through school but altered Peter’s outlook on life in every possible way.
Since then, Peter has served as a relief coordinator during the Rwandan genocide, worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross during the Sudan conflict, immigrated to the United States, fostered over 27 children, and became a single foster and adoptive parent. He speaks seven languages and has travelled to more than 100 countries as an international advocate for vulnerable children.
"Many of us have gone through a difficult time or even childhood where we can look back and say, yes, we can use our past as a way to kill ourselves, but also to use it to save others and do better for others, "Mutabazi explained. "For me, holding onto the anger towards my dad was a way of losing my future. I did not want it to be that way. I wanted to show that to my kids."
Peter Mutabazi is now an entrepreneur, an international advocate for children, and the founder of Now I Am Known, a corporation that supplies resources that encourage and affirm children. He is also a single father of two and a foster dad to many.
He writes about his life story in his new book Now I am Known: How a Street Kid Turned Foster Dad Found Acceptance and True Worth.
Today on Connections, Peter shares his story and how his faith got him through it.