Up until the age of 14 Sanyu* lived at home with his family. When he turned 14 he started to argue with his brother, who stole money from their mother and blamed Sanyu to get him in trouble. His mother believed Sanyu’s brother and so Sanyu felt hurt and left home and secured work for a chapatti seller.
One day when Sanyu was working, the chapatti seller’s equipment was stolen. When he told his boss about it he insisted that Sanyu paid for the stolen goods. Not having enough money to cover this, Sanyu left and tried to find his father, who in turn said he couldn’t offer him a home and took him to his uncle’s place.
It was difficult at his uncle’s as Sanyu had to sleep in an outbuilding that was also used for the goats, hens and crops from the garden.
In time Sanyu moved to stay with his aunt and got another chapatti job. In this new job, something came to his mind about stealing money from his new boss and running away to the streets of Jinja. Sanyu stole 100,000 Ugandan shillings (about £22) and ran away.
Life on the streets
Sanyu’s first days on the streets were tough. He didn’t know what to expect and had no friends. He met Daniel* who was from the same village as him who had also left home. Daniel sold scrap metal and was renting in one of the slums with the money he made. Daniel asked Sanyu to come with him and collect scrap metal too. In time Sanyu made enough money to rent his own room in the slums and for a while life was hard, but Sanyu got used to the situation.
It was when Sanyu met Moses* that his life took a turn for the worse. Moses introduced him to drugs. At first it was smoking marijuana, but this quickly turned to mafuta (aeroplane fuel), tobacco and gum amongst others. Sanyu was soon an addict.
Our street outreach team met Sanyu on the streets when he was heavily addicted to drugs. Sanyu refused any help and ignored our pleas for him to get support. It took 3 years of us building trust with Sanyu for him to eventually accept help and start to attend at our Drop-In Centre. All this time Sanyu was using drugs and struggling to make ends meet by collecting and selling scrap.
We recognised that Sanyu needed specialist help to combat his addictions and so we referred him to our Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
When Sanyu first got there he wanted to run away. It was so different to his life on the streets and it was only when of our social workers told him about S.A.L.V.E.’s plans to work with him to make his future that he stayed.
In time Sanyu learnt to cope with his new environment. He starting making briquettes during his rehabilitation and he made good friends with his peers. He got used to adults being in a trusted role, showing him unconditional love and care. Our team has also taught him new skills such as different types of cooking, doing house work, storytelling, respecting elders and the importance of accepting going back home.
Going back home
After working with both Sanyu and his family to build their relationship and trust again, we are planning to resettle Sanyu at his mother’s place (when it is safe to do so).
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we are able to help children like Sanyu. We can provide them specialist care through our rehabilitation programme and with our love and support, they can go home, go back to school and have a better tomorrow.
*Sanyu’s and Daniel’s name have been changed in line with our child protection policy.