Godfrey* is 11 years old, he comes from a small village and has just finished primary year three. When he was younger, Godfrey lived with both his mother and father. Then his parents divorced, his mother left the home and she hasn’t been seen for more than three years.
Godfrey’s father remarried, but his new stepmother began mistreating him, regularly beating, abusing, and depriving him from food when his father was not around. Godfrey decided that he wanted to trace his grandparents, but he had not seen them since he was 5 years old, so did not think that he’d be able to recognise them.
A new life on the streets
Instead, Godfrey decided to run away from his stepmother. He began a new life on the streets of a nearby town. He was welcomed by several young children aged between 10-12 years old, with whom he stayed for more than two years. After that, he moved to a different town, where he was joined by a group of children aged 10-17. He stayed there for a period of five months, looking for pieces of scrap and plastic bottles that he could sell to earn enough money to buy a small amount of food and other necessities. He began helping restaurant owners by fetching water, washing dishes and taking out the rubbish so that he could make enough money to survive.
Our team met Godfrey while carrying out a Street Outreach walk. They introduced themselves to him and he agreed to walk with them up to the Drop in Centre. Godfrey began attending some of our activities at the Drop in Centre, including counselling, sports and lessons. Our team began to understand Godfrey’s story, working with him to find out how and why he came to be on the streets. After building a trusting relationship with the S.A.L.V.E. team, Godfrey decided that he was ready to be home traced. He wished to be resettled back to his grandparent’s home, instead of his father’s home, because he was scared of being mistreated by his stepmother. Supporting Godfrey’s decision, our team devised an action plan and began the home tracing process. Godfrey agreed to visit his father and stepmother on the way to his grandparent’s home so that our staff could find out more about his home life.
A happy ending
The planned for day arrived, and I accompanied Godfrey back to his village. We arrived at his father’s home, and his stepmother informed us that the local authorities had threatened to imprison her because they believed she had kidnapped Godfrey as he had been missing for so long. As it was not suitable for Godfrey to be resettled here, we set off to find his grandparent’s home. It took a long time to identify the house as Godfrey could not remember his grandparent’s names, nor where exactly they had stayed. Eventually, we arrived, and Godfrey’s grandmother welcomed us inside.
“She was so happy to see her grandson again, and her happiness turned to tears”.
She explained to us about how and why Godfrey had left home, and stated that she hadn’t seen Godfrey’s mother for years. I briefed her on how S.A.L.V.E. had built a trusting relationship with her grandson and she was very pleased. She thinks we may have saved his life.
She thanked us for all the support that we have offered to her grandson and agreed for him to live with her from that day onwards. Since then, I have made several follow ups and I am pleased to say that Godfrey is doing well. I am planning to visit him again soon to see how he is coping in his new environment after a long time on the streets.
*Godfrey’s name has been changed in line with our child protection policy.