What follows is the story told to staff at S.A.L.V.E International of a girl named Sara* who was living on the streets of Jinja.
My name is Sara, my mother died when I was six months and I was raised by my father. When I was seven he remarried and initially we were happy and I began going to school which I really enjoyed. However after several years my stepmother began telling my father lies about me, for example that I was meeting boys rather than going to school. He started to believe her and said I was no longer his child and could not return to school. This really hurt me as I loved getting an education.
Things worsened as my stepmother began withdrawing food and beating me every day. My father did not support me and took her side, so I felt I had no alternative but to leave home, although I had nowhere to go. I was so desperate that I walked 60 miles on foot to Jinja and started living on the streets. I made friends but life was very tough especially for a girl. I was sexually abused and often left in need of medical attention which I could not afford. I struggled daily to find a safe place to sleep, food, clothes, soap and menstrual products and would often have to resort to sex work for money to survive. I also started using drugs to deal with my situation and soon became addicted.
One day when on the streets I was approached by two staff from S.A.L.V.E who took me back to the residential site and provided me with food, clothes, soap, pads and drug rehabilitation. It was also discovered I had HIV so was given the medical care that I needed. I was supported to reconnect with family members and was able to continue my education which I was so happy about. I am now 17, in education and I thank S.A.L.V.E for the wonderful care and love they have shown me and my family.
*Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy