During rainy season, some places in Uganda cannot be easily accessed by anyone, particularly in the mountainous areas such as Bugishu in Eastern Uganda. This is because many of our roads are not made of tarmac, so they turn into liquid mud in the rain.
There is one street connected child called Kane* whom I had promised to resettle back to his mother in one of these areas. He was well counselled and prepared to go home, but when the date came, I was not able to make it due to an emergency with another child. Kane really trusted me, and knowing that I did not want to break this trust, I rearranged to meet him another day. This time around, with all assurance I agreed a second day for his home tracing to go and meet his family.
Perseverance through the rain
Due to some bad luck, it rained cats and dogs on that day! Despite this, I remained committed to my promise and was able to meet Kane and take him to a safe place to rest until the following day, hoping the weather could improve.
I promised to take him the next day, whatever the weather, but at the back of my mind I knew some of the challenges I was to about face on my way to there! It was more important that his trust in me was not broken, so I was determined that we could make it regardless of the rain.
From Jinja town to Bulambuli district, the road is tarmac and therefore we had no problems, even in the rain. However, from here to the home I was taking him to, the road was extremely muddy as it had just stopped raining. I knew I could not come back before reaching there as I had been promising him for so long, and it is hard to build trust with a child on the streets who has been let down by so many adults. We climbed onto a boda (motorbike taxi) but my heart was jumping in my mouth! Even our driver was commenting on how lucky we are not to have slipped and had an accident on the muddy road as we drove.
A river crossing
To my surprise, the boda couldn’t even reach the real home as we had to cross a river! We began searching for a temporary bridge, but each time we found one, we saw that it was completely covered in water. We found a third bridge and it was covered in water, but just about passable. It was so slippery that we decided the best way to cross would be by crawling on all fours very slowly in the middle!
After making it across the bridge, I stopped worrying about our safety and began enjoying the beautiful location! I took pictures and told Kane how happy I was to visit this place with him.
The village we were trying to reach was very remote. I asked him, ‘What do you do if you someone falls sick?’ And he told me that the family will carry them on their own back across the river if there is not too much water. If there is, then they must be looked after at home! He told me not to worry, serious sickness had been very rare in their village.
Kane and I reached the village and were greeted by his parents who were overjoyed to see him. They offered me refreshments, and we sat with Kane, telling him about how important his education would be for his future and that he was loved and welcome and did not need to return to the street.
I left this tiny village across the river feeling completely amazed at how people had survived here for so many years, never being able to cross the bridge when the water became too high. I came home thinking about what I had left behind in the village, rather than what I was coming back to. It was a beautiful place and this family had taught me a lot about perseverance and resilience through their challenges.
I am happy to report that Kane is still at home and enjoying being back with his family away from the dangers of the streets. Thank you for all your support for S.A.L.V.E. that allows us to reunite children with their family no matter how far or what the weather.
*We have changed Kane’s name in this public space for child protection reasons.