East or West, Home is the Best

Meet James* who is one of our children in our educational sponsorship programme. He lives with his guardian as he goes to primary school. He is 8 years old and like any other child at S.A.L.V.E., he has been supported through a number of S.A.L.V.E. programmes such as Street Outreach,  Rehabilitation, Home Tracing, Follow Up visits, Educational Support, and Family Business Empowerment.

James is the third born of a woman that has so far produced seven children, of which sadly only four have survived. His mother is the eighth born out of twelve children, showing a common cycle of families in poverty to have many children and struggle to pay for healthcare. She was forced to get married at a very young age due to the unbearable situation in her family home. Being young, she was not prepared to face the challenges that come with marriage. Of her first three children, two died due to her husband’s negligence. She decided she had to leave to make sure she could care for the third. Reaching home, it had not changed since she had left, and she knew that life here would be a struggle, but to her it was better than staying with her drunk and careless husband. She stayed home with her little baby girl adding to the responsibilities of her parents. She was still a young woman with a baby who needed to be taken care. Her parents could not afford to pay for her, or for her daughters needs.

Soon, she began receiving gifts from her male neighbours. They saw her situation as an opportunity. Soon after, she realised she was carrying another child, and when she tried to tell the responsible man, he refused to believe it was his and stopped the relationship. By the time James came into the world, he had already begun to stress the family because he was another mouth to feed.

The situation at home grew from bad to worse as her parents struggled to provide for her and her two children. Eventually, they decided that they had to take the little girl back to her father since she had grown up a little and could at least survive. The mother remained with James, her parents, and their other grandchildren from her siblings. Their home was crowded and she again began to look for a man to help to take care of them and change their situation. Before long, she was pregnant with another child and this time, the man agreed to look after her and their baby. James was left with his grandparents and his mother gave birth, got married and was pregnant again within a month. She stayed in this marriage for some time but since this man also had other women and families to take care of, James’ mum left him, returning to her parent’s house.

The family were getting desperate. Getting a meal was a miracle in this family, and slowly, children began spending more and more time on the street in Jinja town. One day, James’ mum disappeared with the youngest two children, and the rumour around the village was that she had married a man in the far west of the country and gone to live with him.

S.A.L.V.E. met James on the street and tried to unite him with his father. However, his father refused to acknowledge that James was his son or help to look after him. James ended up back with his grandparents and began attending school with the help of S.A.L.V.E., returning to his grandparents at night. However, his grandparents had many other children staying in the home who were not in school. There was a huge amount of pressure on them to provide food and other basic requirements in the home, even with S.A.L.V.E.’s help. James’ grandmother was helped to start a business, but she still struggled to feed all of the mouths at home with her income.

James was often going to bed hungry at night. It stopped him concentrating in class, and he often missed school because he was hungry and didn’t want to get in trouble at school for not concentrating. Luckily, James has a sponsor who helped him join boarding school where he can be sure of a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as extra classes to help him catch up at school. S.A.L.V.E. will continue to support James’ grandparents with business empowerment to help the other children in their care, and has taken some of the strain off them with one less mouth to feed.

However, there are many more children in a similar situation to James. If you think you can help support them to really achieve their potential, please email info@salveinternational.org for more information about becoming a sponsor.

*We have changed James’ name in line with our child protection policy.

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