Susan* is 12 years old and lives in a ghetto area of Jinja. Her father, a fisherman separated from her mother and remarried. Susan was one of 10 children. Her mother left home with six of them including Susan and had to leave four of her siblings behind.
Her mother stopped paying Susan’s school fees because of the tough conditions at home. Since she was the eldest, her mother asked her to go to the city and look for food for the family. She was also expected to find other basic needs such as soap and clothes. Sometimes her mother would go back to their home village to do some farming with her other four children, leaving Susan and her siblings alone for one or two months.
Struggling to Survive
Susan began looking for scrap metal and picking people’s leftovers in order to get money and food to take home. Often she would have to resort to begging to get enough to feed her family. When the situation became too much and she felt she had no other options she would get money in exchange for sex. Susan did not want to do this but she felt forced to and did not tell her mother. However, after two events where she was a victim of violent sexual assault, leaving her helpless and in pain, she told her mother and they both reported the incidents to the police.
Hope for the Future
Despite these harrowing experiences Susan continued coming to Jinja and there she met staff from S.A.L.V.E. International. They talked to her and encouraged her to attend the Girls Drop In Centre. After some time spent building trust with her, Susan was taken to the S.A.L.V.E. residential site where she was happy and supported, receiving counselling, food, medication and life skills education. Susan says:
‘Thanks to S.A.L.V.E. International and its great team of staff for helping me and other children who face the same challenges like me.’
We are currently working with her to see where she can be resettled home to where she can be safe and supported to return to school.
*Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy