Patience* is 12 years old and lives in a slum area of Jinja under the care of her grandmother, renting a small muddy house. Patience is the sixth child in their family of eight with a single mother.
Working hard to pay for school
Patience started living with her grandmother after the death of her father when she was in primary school as life was miserable – her mum could not afford for them to eat two meals a day. Patience wanted to go back to school but her grandmother could not afford to pay the fees and she started looking around for some work like selling sweet bananas, ground nuts and washing peoples’ clothes.
Unfortunately, Patience and her grandmother followed the same trend – too much business on some days to get it all done leading to long, highly tiresome days which left them without much-needed energy for the next day. Life was only drudgery and though Patience had tried to earn enough money to pay the school fees for herself, she ended up being defeated due to lack of encouragement and having to pay for basic needs. Patience could no longer pursue her dream of education.
Spiralling to the streets
Events took even more of a negative turn for Patience when she had an attempted rape on her by a gang one day when she had stayed for long hours in the market. From then on, she could no longer make these long stays as the place made her so nervous, which made it harder for her to make enough money from sales.
Patience started staying out late in other places and the situation worsened when she sometimes slept out after she sold scrap metals and plastics. She met a gang of other friends who were active in the same trade who enticed her to dwell with them in their hideouts, surviving on the street. Her grandmother did little pursuing of the child, as she somehow felt relieved that Patience was not her responsibility anymore (as Patience told later when a social worker spoke with to her).
She faced lots of wicked things that a child should not see at any time. She even attempted prostitution as a means of survival. A police round-up happened on one fateful day that had Patience arrested along with many other prostitutes and gangsters of different sorts and put into an adult prison.
A change in fortunes
S.A.L.V.E. International’s social workers heard of the arrest and worked with the police to secure Patience’s release.
She became an active attendee of programs at the Drop in Centre and after a time she was encouraged to join the Halfway Home program. This later helped her to be reunited with her grandmother who had almost given upon on her. However they were given counselling so her grandmother understood Patience needed more care and protection from the street life.
Patience is now living with her grandmother again and is hoping to gain educational sponsorship. She is excited about school and hopes to become a nurse in the next few years.
Girls on the street
Patience, like many other girls, is all too common on many streets in Uganda and Jinja. The entire community of Ugandans and other well-wishers should see to it that we eliminate this as girls are more vulnerable to the certain dangers posed to them on the streets. This will help to slow down the rampant number of street births by young girls trying to survive, and make sure that there is no street that shall any longer be called home.
Could you make a difference to a girl living on the streets of Jinja and give them chance to turn their life around? We have a number of girls who are looking for education sponsors to give them a chance to get back to school and have a brighter future. Visit our sponsorship pages to find out how you could help change a life.
*names of children are changed in line with our child protection policy