My name is Frank* and I am 16 years old. I’m not sure who my biological father is since I grew up with my grandmother after being abandoned by my father when I was 8 months old. My mother remarried another man who had 4 wives including my mother. My mother runs a business selling maize to different shopkeepers, as well as at markets.
Life at Home
I stopped studying in primary school year six, though it was not my intention. This happened after my stepfather and mother both refused to pay my school fees. I decided to go back to my grandmother’s place and began work cutting sugarcane. There were 4 people in the family that I was providing food for. Over time, I developed a back problem from doing heavy work at a young age and had to stop.
One day I was so bored at home that I decided to borrow a bicycle from a neighbour and went to watch a football match. Unfortunately, by the time the match ended the bicycle was nowhere to be seen. I was too scared to go back to my grandmother’s place since I had lost the neighbour’s bike and thought I would be sent to jail, so I decided to go to my mother for help. Sadly, things didn’t work out as I had hoped as she refused to help me, so I decided to run away to Jinja to avoid the police. On reaching the city, I had nothing on me and I knew no one there. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat, so I began living on the streets of Jinja.
My Life on the Street
While on the street, life became much harder. It took a lot of effort to survive and we were bullied by the older children who beat us and stole our money. I started taking drugs, especially Mafuta (aeroplane fuel) so I would not think about home, the cold and feeling hungry. We would steal people’s things and sell scrap metal to make money. I lost trust in people, developed issues with controlling my temper and learnt to be self-centered to focus on my own survival.
While on the street, a team of staff from S.A.L.V.E. International approached me several times and told me they could help change my life. Although most of the time I was drunk, the staff never gave up on me. They continued to look for me on the street and encouraged me to attend their Drop-in Centre. One day, very early in the morning, I decided to go. There I met the staff who began counselling me on different issues and encouraged me to attend every day, which I did for a full month.
This greatly changed my life and I committed to take part in the Drug Rehabilitation programme, as the drugs had seriously affected me.
Thank you so much S.A.L.V.E. International and all its supporters for loving us and giving us hope in life for a better tomorrow.
*Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy