People were created to enjoy life. But sometimes, there are so many challenges that people find different ways to cope, which may even be suicide or conflicts with others. Challenges are always tough, but they help to strengthen a person about how to handle tough times, how to solve problems, and how to be resilient enough to handle hardships.
Children are a blessing but they still need good parenting. The way they behave depends on their environment. Because they are young, their minds can copy anything as they are eager to learn about whatever they see. What a child hears or sees when young develops their minds, brain and health. So when children seem to act out, or show ‘bad’ behaviours, there is usually a reason, or something responsible for this. Often, because they are young, people choose not to respect their rights, and don’t care about the outcome. Some are denied the right to education, the right to a nationality, the right to shelter, or food, and often many more.
Why Do Children Turn To The Streets?
These could be some of the reasons why these children leave their parents or relatives’ homes and come to the streets to live temporarily. They compare home and the street and finally decide that the street is far better than home. Such a decision is not right, but they are too young to always make the right decisions. While they are on the streets, they face so many abuses and difficulties. For example being beaten, a lack of food, no shelter, clothing or love. Finally, they are exposed to different drugs that destroy their minds but help them to forget their difficult circumstances.
Assuman* and his friends are all below seventeen years and live on the street in Uganda. When interviewed on what could be some of the reasons as to why they came on the streets, they all shared that they were being mistreated at home and decided to come on the streets where they struggle with life. They were all exposed to drugs which make them look like they are older than their true age.
It is therefore everyones responsibility to treat children well, with a mind that whatever is done or imposed on them can define their lives in the future. They need to be supported to regain hope for their futures. It’s not too late for them, it is the right time if they are given time to change with love and support. That is how S.A.L.V.E. International works; children from the streets are cared for, counselled and finally supported to make good decisions for their future. We ensure that they choose to leave their drugs to focus on their life and choosing a better future. This is how our Drug Rehabilitation Centre works.
The Difference S.A.L.V.E. Makes…
At S.A.L.V.E., children are helped to leave drugs and alcohol. The children are equipped with skills which they also transfer to their friends as a form of peer education. This is done on the streets with the children who left their homes and take drugs. The same is also done in schools where children are also likely to take drugs because of their environment of pressure to perform and get good grades. They relate with friends from different communities and this helps to build their self esteem and communication skills that they have something of value to offer society.
These children can be helped by their peers who were also once on drugs. These peer educators are the best people to testify and advise their friends on the effects of taking drugs as they understand the situation, and have been through similar themselves.
The children who were once on the streets have been helped to change their mindset, resettled back into their extended family homes and can now be seen being so important and useful in their families. Thomas*, for example, left home because he was being mistreated by a step mother who used to see him as useless and send him for manual labour which was much too hard for someone of his age. He decided that running to the streets would be better, but found life tough and dangerous here. S.A.L.V.E. International took him into rehabilitation, helped him overcome his addiction and finally supported him through counselling and guidance to become an important person at home who is now appreciated by his family. He now has other coping techniques in case of challenges in the home so he doesn’t need to run away again.
The children who were seen as being useless and thought that they could not be important in their community can now sit with others and influence their lives. This is the reason why I say no retreat, no surrender because if these people had surrendered, they would not have gone on to achieve. Some of them are now at school, others are back home in their respective families as others are at work and supporting themselves (depending on age). BIG UP S.A.L.V.E. INTERNATIONAL for having considered and cared for children who were considered hopeless in the community due to their addictions!
Thank you to all the supporters who have stood with S.A.L.V.E. to make this important and unique drug rehabiliation programme a possibility.
*The name of this child has been changed in this public space for his protection.