Cold and dangerous nights

Life at Home

Namazzi* is a 16 year old girl from Southern Uganda. While at home her parents separated and her father only came home to cause domestic violence. He had relinquished all his responsibilities as a father; he would barely buy food and didn’t care whether Namazzi and all her siblings had access to medicine and other basic needs. He just beat them until “blood flowed like a river for his daily meal,” says Namazzi, with tears rolling down her eyes.

“We always toiled with my mother, digging for people in their plantations or walking around selling tomatoes on our heads. One day a man tried to rape me. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up, thinking that one day, home would get better, but my thoughts were always in vain. My mother always encouraged us not to lose hope, but it was overwhelming.”

Nowhere to hide

One cold night, Namazzi’s father came home very drunk. Namazzi, her mother and siblings had begun hiding in the village whenever they saw him coming since he had become so dangerous.

Little did they know, their father had found out so he decided to come back during the night. He set fish traps around the house so that he would catch them if they decided to run. He wanted to marry Namazzi off to one of the rich men in the village who purchased alcohol for her dowry.

“He roared with laughter, ‘I have caught you this time with your foolish tricks,’” says Namazzi, full of despair.

Namazzi says: “I lost my mind from fear. My mother and all my other siblings started crying but no one could help since the village was far away and they could not hear us.”

“He started threatening to kill us all and slapped my mother after an she argued with him. My little brother started crying out in pain so he slapped him too. I looked around and the whole house was in tears. I summoned all the anger from everything that had happened to us, which gave me the courage to push my father and hit him hard on his head twice using a large stick that was in our compound. Deep down, I thought that doing it would save us. I thought my mother would stop crying and I didn’t know that I was hurting my father, but I would face the consequences later.”

 “My mother started calling out my father’s name. We did love him, despite his awful behaviour, but he could not reply. She began crying for help as he was now unconscious and covered in blood. I was losing my mind and I concluded that I had killed my father. Thoughts started racing through my mind; a killer, a killer! And they became so persistent. But then another thought came:

just walk away to wherever the world takes you

So I did, until I reached the streets of Jinja.

Leaving Home

Life was very hard for me, thinking I had killed my father. On the streets, I hardly got anything to eat or even a shelter to cover me, all because of my fear and guilt of what had happened at home.

One day, I was asleep on the street, which was rare as I was always afraid that someone would rape me, when someone from S.A.L.V.E. approached me and asked whether I would talk to them. At first, I was hesitant but decided to go with them to the S.A.L.V.E. Drop in Centre. I was given water to bathe and wash my clothes and they gave me further care. Ever since then my life has changed.

S.A.L.V.E. gave me hope and a safe place to stay. They also gave me counselling so I could accpet what has happened to me.

Recently, I was even able to connect with my family and I was so happy to find out that my father was still alive and that I didn’t kill him. I still hope that he might get help and change.

Thank you S.A.L.V.E. for supporting me, I am forever grateful. Now my life can have smiles instead of tears.

*names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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