A boy pictured alone outside

Finding the Right Path Home

As a child, Patrick* lived with his grandmother as his parents had both sadly died from AIDS.  However, his stay there did not work out well due to some challenging behaviour from Patrick, including thefts. This was mainly due to the influence of his hometown lads who would send him into people’s gardens to steal produce like maize and smaller animals such as chickens. When his grandmother found out about this, she would only rebuke him but the behaviour didn’t stop.

One day, Patrick and his grandmother sold produce from their own garden and were planning to use the money to purchase a cow. This money was kept in his bedroom and, when Patrick told his township friends about this, they told him to go right away and bring the money to them. Because he felt scared and also wanted to feel part of the group, he sneaked the money out and gave it to the group leader.

Prison and the Streets

Back at home, Patrick’s grandmother soon discovered that he had stolen the money. After many questions, he eventually told the elders who he had given the money to and they found the group leader.  Both the group leader and Patrick were imprisoned.

When he returned home after two weeks behind bars, Patrick ran off to permanently live with his friends on the streets because he thought he would get refuge there. This is when he met social workers from S.A.L.V.E. International carrying out a street walk around the neighbourhood where they used to hang out. When asked about returning home to his grandmother, he became very angry and vowed never to go back because he felt the situation he left behind was no longer safe for him.

Returning Home


However the social workers convinced him of the importance of making amends and with support, (despite feeling agitated and fearful), Patrick met with his grandmother after seven long months.

Group counselling sessions were carried out to support this reintegration with his family. Emphasis was put on positive discipline, to help Patrick understand that what he had done was very wrong and what good behaviours he needed to be doing instead.

Also, the sessions helped the elders at home to understand that discipline shouldn’t involve hitting and other physical punishments but communicating, sharing and finding common ground so that a child understands and can improve their behaviour.

S.A.L.V.E. International advocates for the rights of children, stopping them from running away from their homes and ending up on the streets.

Everyone should be joined to uphold this noble cause to help children stay in their homes and find peace with their families.

*names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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