How I Survived

Jimiyu* is 15 years old and lives in a village in Eastern Uganda, and studied up until year four at primary school. Jimiyu lived with his mother and step father until they decided it was best for him to move in with his grandfather. The living situation was pleasant for the first two months of his stay; his grandfather welcomed him with open arms after living apart from his grandson for so long.

Jimiyu’s mother stayed in contact with him and his grandfather on a weekly basis for first two months of his stay, much to his grandfather’s delight. This didn’t last, as Jimiyu’s mother failed to keep in regular contact. She was also unable to support Jimiyu’s grandfather with financial aid for her son’s upkeep as she had stopped working.

Things change

According to Jimiyu, the situation at home began to slowly deteriorate when he was made to feel ignored and disregarded. He suffered physical abuse at the hands of other members living in the house, often for no reason. Jimiyu tried to alert his grandfather to this fact, but he was largely unresponsive. In addition to this, Jimiyu was overworked with labour in the garden and was denied food. Jimiyu was like any other child – he wished to play with friends in his neighbourhood and enjoy his free time.

Last resort

The situation was not improving, and Jimiyu was so dismayed that he decided to leave his grandfather’s home and make the journey back to his mother’s house in a different district. The journey was further than he had anticipated, and Jimiyu was left with no choice but to live on the streets of Mbale, where he remained for three months. He then moved to the streets of Jinja, as the friends he had made on the street persuaded him to do.

Upon Jimiyu’s arrival into the new town, he lost his friends and didn’t understand where they had gone. He was left stranded, so decided to look for a place to rest that night and regroup the following day. To Jimiyu’s relief, he became acquainted with some boys who introduced him to life on the streets of Jinja.

Led astray

Jimiyu began using marijuana as his new friends encouraged him to do so. Worse still, Jimiyu developed a taste for the drug Mafuta (or aeroplane fuel), and descended into a life far from the one he had known back home with his mother. He began stealing in order to survive on the streets, targeting stores and homes at night in order to make money. He gave into the pressure of his peers, who encouraged him to partake in these new illegal and dangerous activities.

Saving grace

Jimiyu’s new lifestyle caught up to him when one night he was caught stealing, and was severely beaten by locals in the area as a result. Jimiyu was in great pain when he was spotted by member of the S.A.L.V.E. International team, after they recognised him from when he attended the Drop in Centre. Being an organisation that helps street connected children in a similar position to Jimiyu’s, he asked for the help of a social worker. Upon gaining their support, Jimiyu was taken to a hospital for treatment of the injuries he sustained when he was beaten up. After being in hospital for two weeks, he was then referred to the S.A.L.V.E. Drug Rehabilitation Centre  for long-term help recovering from his use of drugs. With the help of S.A.L.V.E., Jimiyu is being given the support he needs to recover from his drug usage, and is in the process of reconnecting with his mother as he recovers.

*names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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