My name is Samuel*. I grew up with a single mother and I have never seen my father because my mother had told me that he died when she was six months pregnant with me. At first life at home was good because my mum was still working but, when I was about the age of eight, the situation at home started becoming bad because she lost her job. She decided to take me and my two siblings to our relatives but they all refused saying that the children they had were enough.
Trying for a better life
My mother decided to get a loan from the bank worth 2 million Ugandan shillings (approximately £400) to start up a business. She had set up a retail shop but unfortunately the shop caught fire and went back to zero. The landlord kept demanding money but since the shop was burnt he lost hope of being paid his money.
We were thrown out of the house and the bank was also looking for my mother demanding the money they had lent her. Because of the fear my mother had of being imprisoned, she decided to run away and hide from that village.
With my mother gone, my siblings and I slept at a church for 3 days with some kind Samaritans who took pity on us and gave us some food to eat. Later we were taken to the police who helped us to trace our grandmother. She was happy to see us but also felt sorry for what we had gone through. I stayed with my grandmother for one month but decided to run away from home to the streets after being influenced by other children in the neighbourhood who said I could make money there. At first the situation on the streets was so bad but I had to get used to it quickly. I missed my siblings and my grandmother but I wanted to help provide for them.
While on the street I could work for people and looked for scrap to sell it to get money which I could use to do shopping for food and take back at home. At my young age I had taken up a big responsibility of taking care of my grandmother and siblings.
Later I was introduced to a bad group which was using drugs and stealing people’s property. I was taken to the police and I served my punishment. Afterwards they referred me to the organisation called S.A.L.V.E. International for further support in rehabilitation since I had started using drugs. I enjoyed my stay in the rehabilitation and never wished to go back home. I reached a point of lying to the staff in the rehab that I didn’t know where my relatives were so I could reflect on the hardships and situation at my grandmother’s place.
Through the counselling and teachings I was receiving in the rehab, I understood the benefits of being home. The staff also managed to trace for my mother and found her but she was in a sorry state. When I was resettled back home, the organisation empowered my family with a business and also continued offering us with more counselling which has benefited all in the family.
“Thanks to S.A.L.V.E. International for all the great work” – Samuel.
*Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy