The pressure of responsibility

My name is Tiyo* and I am 17 years old. I come from a polygamous family. My mother is the fourth wife to my father. There are 23 children altogether and I am the third youngest. My father loves me so much because he married all those women and gave birth to all of us so that he could have an heir. I am his heir. Among the 23 children, there are only four boys. The other three didn’t meet his expectations because they refused to study and only think about my father’s wealth. 

Growing up in a polygamous family has not been easy because of the various wrangles and misunderstandings among children and their mothers. Personally, I have received that extra care from my father because of what he wants me to become. The special treatment is evident to other children and it makes them jealous. 

With all this pressure from my Dad and hate from my siblings, I started running away from home. I would stay with my friends because I felt like I couldn’t meet my father’s expectations.

One day when I was home, I tried talking to my father about the responsibility he wanted to give me. I tried to tell him how it was too much and I was not ready. But, he just encouraged me to take it up and repeated that it would be OK. It just made me more stressed. 

Turning to the streets

Eventually, I decided to run away from home. I joined a group of boys who were staying on the streets of Jinja and I told them what was going on in my life. They saw this as an opportunity. They told me what I wanted to hear and encouraged me not to go back home. All they really wanted was my father’s wealth.

As time went on, I joined in with the groups of boys and I started using drugs (mafuta and marijuana). Because of the love my father has for me, I could take advantage of him. So, whenever I didn’t have money I would go back home and ask for money which I would use to buy more drugs for me and my friends.

I never wanted to use drugs but I was not ready for all of the responsibility my father was giving me. I felt that I had to start using drugs so he would lose interest in me. 

I regret that decision. I knew the dangers of using drugs. The drugs affected me quickly. I started losing my memory and would hallucinate. I stopped studying and I was always expelled from schools for using drugs at school.

Battling addiction with S.A.L.V.E.

One day as I sat on the street with my friends smoking marijuana, a boy and a staff member from S.A.L.V.E. came to us. They explained where they were from, what they do and how they could support us. The boy told us that he had also been on the street and understood the situation we all go through. I asked them if I could join them because I was tired of the life I was living, and they warmly accepted.

They brought me to S.A.L.V.E and they helped me, and have never judged me for my past. I am receiving counselling at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre. They have given me medication and I am slowly regaining my memory. 

Family reunification

We also went for a home visit and my parents were extremely happy to see me again after three years. We had family counselling and my parents listened and understood me. They made a promise to support me, especially in my drug recovery. I am so excited to move home after my drug rehab program and start a new life.

“Thank you S.A.L.V.E. for your support towards street connected children.”

*names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy

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