Simon was very young when he witnessed the cruelest incidents of war a child his age should ever have to see. It all began when his mother had to relocate to another district to flee from her abusive husband. The decision was a long time coming, but she left when she ran out of options.
When Simon tells his story now as a seven-year-old, it seems as if it had only happened yesterday. Some of the things he has to narrate are sad to listen to, most especially from a child.
Two tribes at war
When Simon’s mother arrived at the village of her parents, there were rumors of a war approaching. The two main rival tribes were always at loggerheads but this time it was worse. They had somehow acquired firearms, machetes, and other kinds of weaponry to terrorise the community. Simon’s mother tried to leave again but it was too late. The roads out of town were cut off from the rest of the country, and just like that, they were isolated. She feared for her and her son’s life.
The refugee camp
The war continued and it became impossible to tell what day it was. Time all merged into one, and what they thought would be a few days, turned into weeks, and then turned into months.
After several rounds of cease fire negotiations which failed, the government decided to intervene. Many families were evacuated and taken to a camp in a nearby district. Life was still difficult, but families weren’t in immediate danger. Simon was now four years old and could understand many things that were happening to his family.
In the camp, children had to fend for themselves in hope of getting meals to eat. They ended up engaging in small jobs like house chores for neighbours and digging in their gardens. They sometimes would engage in poor habits like theft and alcohol drinking usually due to peer pressure. By the time Simon was six, he had become addicted to drugs and got involved in crimes which led to him being imprisoned in community jail.
At release, Simon was cared for by community workers who tried to guide him. He proved to have changed but was reluctant to go back home in case the war was ongoing. So he ran away and ended up on the streets, which is where he met S.A.L.V.E. We built trust with him and helped him to regain his self worth and learn how to live in a home again.
When the war ended, Simon’s family returned to their rightful home and Simon was grateful and happy to be reunited with his parents and siblings by S.A.L.V.E.
All children deserve a safe place to grow up under the guidance and care of their families. S.A.L.V.E. International calls on all community members to join hands and help create a great space for children to grow up and become responsible citizens. Our work of home resettlement, reintegration and family reunion is key in creating such good communities.
Let’s continue to fight together to transform the lives of children who have suffered such tragedy and trauma, that they should never be subjected to.