Five years ago I was living on the streets, drinking, taking drugs and feeling useless and hopeless; now I have found my light. My name is Zed*, I am 16 years old and began living on the streets aged 11 after the death of my father. After his funeral, relatives chased us out of his house. My maternal grandmother took us in but my uncles were unhappy about this and tried to evict us.
Life on the streets
It was so difficult witnessing the struggle my mother faced bringing us up alone, so I decided to find a way to take care of myself to lift some of the burden from her. So, aged 11, I went to the streets of Bugembe to find my own way to survive. Life was very difficult and many times I regretted leaving my mother. However, the situation was so bad at home that thinking of this made my resolve stronger and I carried on.
During my 5 years on the streets so much transpired; I would often sleep on an empty stomach as I could not find food and started using drugs to cope. I became negative, hopeless and mistrustful of others. I never knew that this world holds beautiful hearts until I met the people from S.A.L.V.E.
At the beginning of this year I was put in jail after the police caught me using drugs at night during their rounds. After 5 days staff from S.A.L.V.E. came and bailed me out. They explained how they planned to help me change my life, but at that time I didn’t really understand as I only wanted to eat and sleep.
At S.A.L.V.E. I was taken to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre where I was fed and looked after. I could eat two big plates of food but still felt hungry; the other children made fun of me but this did not bother me. The care given to me by the staff was beyond my expectation. However, I was suspicious as I thought I would be charged for their services and care, so after a week I ran away back to the streets.
I realised my life had improved whilst being at S.A.L.V.E. but I felt too wary and scared to stay. Thankfully, the staff at S.A.L.V.E. came looking for me and found me on the streets. This warmed my heart and I began shedding tears of happiness. It gave me hope that they really loved me unconditionally. They explained that they were ready to give me a second chance and help me become a better person.
Through the counselling they have given me my attitude has improved. I feel less negative and have begun to trust people again. We were able to trace my mother after 5 years without seeing each other. The happiness we both had that day I will remember forever. I am waiting excitedly for when I will be resettled back home with my mother.
Thanks so much to S.A.L.V.E. through the support you have given me I found my light.
* Please note that in keeping with our child protection policy Zen* is not his real name.