This is the story of Isaac* told in his own words.
I am Isaac, a 12 old boy from a small village by a lake. People live happily in my village, but I do not find things this easy. This is my story, a painful and difficult one.
When l was a child, my parents liked to make breakfast for me before I went to school. One day in particular l remember my father bought for me a nice shirt and trousers when he was returning home from work.
A lot of beautiful memories of my early childhood abruptly came to an end, when one day my biological father, who was a fisherman, capsized in his canoe and met his death. My mother was the strongest woman l knew, but the news caused her to spiral and made her weak. My father was the breadwinner of the house, so this made things more difficult. After a couple of years my mother re-married and found a new husband, who was lovely and quite wealthy. James had other children from his previous marriage, and we started living together. After six months, James’s attitude changed towards me. He began beating me with no explanation, mistreating me physically and emotionally as well as not paying my school fees.
As a 12 year old boy, l decided to leave home and join the streets of Jinja. This scared me, as I was terrified of living on the streets alone without knowing anyone. Days and weeks passed by, and I began to forget my life before. I had adopted many survival mechanisms like begging, stealing, hustling, finding and selling plastic bottles. I heavily relied on sniffing mafuta (aeroplane fuel) and smoking to combat the freezing cold nights. When things started to get hard, l tried to persevere through the adversity.
On a Friday night l was approached by the S.A.L.V.E. Outreach team during their night time street walk. They introduced themselves to me and told me what organisation does through supporting street connected children like me. They encouraged me and my friends on the street to visit their Drop in Centre. A few of us started attending the Drop in Centre regularly, and l personally loved the services – counselling, water and soap to wash my dirty clothes and body, lessons, sports, and being given something to eat amongst other services they offered to us.
After one month l was referred to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre because I had been an addict for five months. After completing my rehabilitation successfully, l was able to move back in with my paternal Aunt in my home village. I want to thank S.A.L.V.E. for the love and care they have provided, because my family and I are supported and I am now enrolled at school.
S.A.L.V.E. has shown me dreams can come true and l hope to inspire others to leave behind their lives on the street and seek help. If you face challenges at home, running to the streets is not the right option.
“Thank you S.A.L.V.E. for your continued commitment and support. Had you not found me that day I don’t know where I would be.”
* Names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy.