This is a story of Moses, a 10-year-old boy who left home hoping for a safe haven but ended up living on the streets. Moses comes from the district of Iganga, neighbouring Jinja in the eastern part of Uganda.
There was domestic violence in his family, and he has experienced a lot at his tender age. Moses is a young, funny and friendly boy. He likes playing football with his friends. Moses is a victim of domestic violence and it isn’t his fault, though he was made to feel like it was.
The circle of violence
Moses’ story is touching because he couldn’t understand why there was relentless violence at home. His mother and father would fight every day. And in his mind, Moses thought he might be the core reason of their fights. This made him feel bad and he wanted to help the family to stop but he couldn’t because he was so young. The fighting would be so violent and dangerous that both parents would grab machetes in order to harm one another.
Moses was often left crying, helpless, sleeping hungry without washing. Sometimes he would sleep outside because his father ordered his mother not to enter the house. Sometimes, the wrath of his father would descend on Moses. His mother would take Moses to his grandmother to stay for a while, but his father would pick him up from there. These circumstances led to the growth of hatred between Moses and his father.
One day his mother decided to leave home without a trace, leaving Moses with his father. For a while it worked ok, but then his father remarried. Suddenly Moses started experiencing the rage of his father again as he started fighting with his stepmother. He would be battered for the smallest mistakes that needed just a talk between them. Sometimes Moses’ father would throw him against the wall. This kind of condition forced him to attempt committing suicide several times. For example, he took rat poison and also he took pesticide. Moses was about to lose his life, and he was taken to his grandmother’s home. She was able to give him first aid that helped save his life. After regaining consciousness Moses was taken to the nearest hospital for more medication to help him to survive.
Moses recovered at his grandmother’s for a while, but then she became sick and couldn’t take care of him anymore. He returned to his father’s home but everything was just the same. Moses waited for his father to go to work, and then he ran away with the aim of finding his mother. He walked on foot for six hours to reach Iganga town. He stayed on the streets of Iganga for two years. Moses faced lots of challenges – sleeping in market stalls when their owners left for the day, police chasing him and other children, along with struggling to get food.
Moses decided with some friends he had made to try street life in Jinja. This journey took them 12 hours on foot and caused his legs to swell painfully. Moses began begging for money on the streets in order to get food to eat and sometimes this was stolen from him. He had to learn to sniff kerosene fuel (Mafuta) in order to fit in and not feel cold at night.
One day the sun was scorching and Moses was sick and not feeling well on the street. He was sleeping on the floor, his body was cold and trembling Moses was also hungry. People were passing near him without bothering. Suddenly he felt a warm hand on his arm that woke him up and Moses saw one of the staff from S.A.L.V.E. International.
The staff member introduced himself and told him more about S.A.L.V.E. and the work they do. The member of staff encouraged him to go to the Emergency Quarantine Centre and have a safe place off the streets and start attending programmes to help him. He was first taken to the hospital for treatment for malaria and when he recovered, and then he started staying at the centre. He got enough food again and regained his strength. He was also safe from the COVID disease.
Eventually, Moses was referred to our Drug Rehabilitation centre. Now he is happy and enjoying the programmes. He is very grateful for S.A.L.V.E. and its friends who give helping hands through love and care. He looks forward to rejoining school one day and living a normal life free of sickness, hunger and violence. Long live S.A.L.V.E.!
*Names have been changed in line with our child protection policy