My name is Alex* and I am 12 years old. I currently live with my grandmother from my father’s side. Because I live in a mountainous region, our village is very vulnerable to mudslides, floods and landslides. This has a really negative effect on people’s lives. Death rates are high, and crops, animals and houses are frequently destroyed. Most of the people in the community struggle to survive, including my family.
Losing my mother
I began living with my grandmother after the death of my mother due to complications of cervical cancer. She had suffered for almost four years in Kampala, where we used to live with three of my siblings. We lived there because my dad has a business as a motorcyclist as a way to support his children and our sick mother. After the death and burial of my mother in the village where her parents live, my biological father took me and my three siblings to live there. While living in Kampala, we often had little to eat and we couldn’t access education. Going to school was too expensive as our father had to meet all our basic needs. Upon reaching the village, we received an exciting welcome from our grandmother and most of our relatives in the neighbourhood. Because they were already aware of what had happened in the last few months, they promised to help with paying for our food, clothing and school fees. They wanted to help us cope with our new life since we had already experienced so many hardships.
Neglected by my new family
However, as the months went by, I was told that my father had married another woman in Kampala and that he had a baby with her. My life and that of my three siblings started becoming very hard as our father was now failing to support us financially or emotionally. Instead, he started concentrating on his new wife whom he had now married. As time went on, my life became overwhelming. Soon, I wasn’t eating even a single meal per day. Being the eldest child of the four siblings, I was forced to leave home to search for my father in Kampala. On the way to Kampala, I became lost, and I ended up on the streets of Jinja. I lived there for two months before meeting a good Samaritan, who later brought me to the Jinja central police station.
Reunited with my family
When I was at the police station a staff member from S.A.L.V.E. International approached me in the office of family and child protection. He spoke to me in my native language in a polite and friendly way. He requested that I go with him to the S.A.L.V.E. residential site, where I could receive more support, like locating my father in Kampala. He also asked that I think about going to my grandmother’s home where I had come from, in case we failed to find my dad. I was soon taken to the S.A.L.V.E residential site. There, I was attended to by many members of staff, who provided counselling and guided me to try and change my life. I was soon home-traced back to my grandmother’s home where I had come from. The activities were very fun, and my family rejoiced at seeing me looking healthy and happy.
Since then, S.A.L.V.E. has made several follow-ups, both in person and over the phone. One day, two S.A.L.V.E. staff members visited and provided us with food, soap, mattresses, clothes and other forms of support. We were very grateful for this help, as our entire family had just experienced a major challenge – our grandmother’s home had been swept away by floods, leaving us with nothing. I therefore end by thanking S.A.L.V.E. for the great support and love you showed me since the first day when we met on the street.
*Names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy