North Carolina dad Peter Mutabazi understands what it means to be given a second chance.
Born in Uganda to an abusive father, Mutabazi ran away when he was 10 years old. He said he struggled on the streets until a Good Samaritan took him in.
"My childhood was difficult, but somehow it gave me empathy," Mutabazi told TODAY co-host Hoda Kotb.
After attending college in the U.K., he moved to the United States to work for World Vision, a nonprofit that helps children.
Mutabazi knew he wanted to created a safe home for children, something he didn't have when he was a child, so he began serving as a foster parent in 2017.
Since then, Mutabazi has fostered more than a dozen children, including his adopted son, Anthony, who was placed with him in 2018 after being abandoned by his adoptive parents at age 11.
"He has no family — he had no where else to go," Mutabazi explained.
Upon placement, Anthony asked whether he could call Mutabazi "dad."
"I just wanted somewhere that I could feel safe and secure and I knew that I could stay there without worrying about moving somewhere else," Anthony told Hoda on TODAY.
More than anything, Mutabazi wanted to make Anthony his son.
"Anthony would always ask me, 'Hey Dad, when will I be officially adopted?'" Mutabazi said. "And of course, with foster care you never know when."
On Nov. 12, 2019, Anthony's adoption was made official.
"I could not sleep for about two days just waiting for the day," the proud dad shared. "It was really neat to see that happen that he had my last name, which he had wanted for a long time."
Anthony shared the best part of having Mutabazi as his dad.
"He's supportive," the teenager shared. "He understands what I'm going through."
As the coronavirus began to spread rapidly around the world, Mutabazi knew he needed to help.
"Most homes have been closed, so I knew there were not many places to go," Mutabazi said.
In March 2020, the father-son duo welcomed another foster child to their home.
"With foster care, they are overloaded with kids and I could not imagine a kid wanting a safe place to be loved in the midst of this. ... I could not say no," Mutabazi said. "I had to find a way to give him a safe place, a safe home."
Mutabazi said helping children is his calling and has since welcomed two more children into his home, for a total of four kids at the Mutabazi house.
"My goal (is) to lift up those who have been forgotten and to say you're special, you matter," he said.
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