Muted colours graphic of a woman walking on her own with nothing and no one surrounding her

Girl Alone

This is the story of Naomi*, a street connected child who S.A.L.V.E. International has recently supported, told in her own words.

Becoming desperate

My mother died when I was six months old, and I was brought up by my father who was my only family. When I was seven my father remarried and initially life was settled, and I completed my schooling up to Primary 7. However during this time my father changed, he began mistreating me and saying I had to find a husband. I desperately wanted to continue my education so I sought help from the village elders but they did nothing and not knowing what else to do I went to the police station. My father was summoned and the police officer tried to explain the importance of education and parental support rather than forcing children to marry so young. He told my father that many girls run away because of this, however my father became very annoyed and questioned the officer over whether the police have the moral authority to tell him how he should raise his daughter.

A forced decision

We returned home and he continued trying to force me to marry. My step mother had a strong influence over my father and believed I was wasting his money on schooling therefore he stopped paying my school fees and I was forced away from my school. My father felt I was disobedient because I would not marry, and he began hating me. I was so upset I even told him I would kill myself if  I was forced to marry, but instead of kindness and understanding he told me I was no longer his daughter. During an argument my stepmother told me that I belonged in the grave with my mother, and began beating me.  Some friends tried to appeal to my father, but he continued saying I wasn’t his daughter and that I should leave.  I felt on the brink of committing suicide and was crying everyday so when a friend suggested running away to the city with her, I agreed. 

Struggling on the streets

However, when we got there my friend left me and I ended up living on the streets alone aged 15. To cope, I began using drugs and alcohol and was often raped and abused by men.  I would be left bleeding, but had no money for medication and little money for food and sanitary products. I ended up charging men to have sex with me to make the money to survive. At 16 I was living like this, addicted to drugs and  having sex to pay for them. I felt hopeless and unable to see any future. 

A SALVE staff member is talking to a girl. Both are sat down and in discussion.

A chance of change

One day, I was approached on the street by three people, two adults who were staff from S.A.L.V.E International and one girl the same age as me. They chatted with me, bought me a chapatti to eat and asked if I would like to go back to school. At first I thought they were joking but they were serious. They invited me to the S.A.L.V.E. Drop In Centre and after attending regularly I was able to stay at their residential site where I came off drugs and received lots of care.

S.A.L.V.E reunited me with my father after my stepmother ran off with another man, and after support and education from staff, my father is treating me properly and I am waiting to go back to school. I thank S.A.L.V.E. International for the care, support and love they have shown me and I promise I will study hard so that I can repay the help that S.A.L.V.E has given me and other girls struggling on the streets of Uganda.


*Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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