This is the story of Joy*and her journey through life, having 12 children but sadly only 6 have survived.
Joy’s parents died when she was young and she and her brother were moved around relatives and never had a chance to attend school. When Joy turned 14, she moved out of her uncle’s home to go and start a new life with one of the army officers who had shown interest in her. Joy was taken to the eastern part of Uganda, leaving her beloved brother behind.
At her husband’s home, life was difficult because she came from a different region with a totally different culture. Life was not that good, but to Joy it was better than her previous life being moved around her relatives. She tried to stay positive.
Becoming a mother
She started giving birth and within a few years, she already had four children with the soldier. He went on duty for some time but would come back home and provide for his family.
However, after some time her husband started to change, and he stopped providing for his family as he used to do before, he was unfaithful and life was hard for Joy and her four children. As if this was not enough, Joy received news about the death of her brother and this left her devastated. She managed to raise the money to attend his burial with her two younger children.
Joy stayed at her uncle’s place for some time since she was not ready to go back to her marital home unless she heard good things from her husband that he was ready to be a good husband and father again. She had two further children with another man, but he was not willing to marry her, and yet she had increased her dependents.
Whilst Joy was away, she received news about the sudden death of one of the two children that she had left behind with their aunty (her first husband’s sister). The news reached her two months after his death, so she didn’t have a chance to attend the funeral of her child. As a result, the remaining child had run away from his aunty in search of his mum. He was never found, so Joy still doesn’t know if he died or if he is still alive, which breaks her heart.
A way out
Joy was a very beautiful young mother, and another army man proposed to her and offered her a place to stay with her children. Since this army man was coming from the northern region of Uganda, Joy went with two of her children and left the two youngest with their father. Life in the north was completely new and since there were constant wars in this region, they could not settle in one place and kept moving from one place to another.
It was while moving around constantly that we met one of Joy’s children on the streets of Jinja. He had gone to the streets to escape feeling unsettled at home. We met him and took him to our Drug Rehabilitation Centre. He was resettled home and Joy was referred to our Family Business Empowerment programme since the family was struggling to look after the children’s needs.
In the Business Empowerment programme Joy went through our assessments and training, and a business was started with Joy. With our support, Joy has been able to rebuild her life and now sees herself as someone who deserves to live a good life and provide for her children and who doesn’t have to always depend on a man who might let her down one day. She is happy now, and as time passes she says she pinches herself to see if she is dreaming. Joy has even trained other people in her neighbourhood, teaching them the business skills which she learned from S.A.L.V.E. International, and is now no longer viewed as the unfortunate one.
*names are changed in line with our Data Protection Policy