This is the story of Leon*, who sadly lost his dad at the age of 12 when he had an accident at work. At the time, Leon was walking 15km to reach the closest, cheapest school that his parents could afford. This was particularly difficult during the rainy season, but he did not like to get in trouble at school for missing it. After the death of his dad, his life changed for the worst. His mother struggled to pay his school fees, but fortunately the school offered to pay half. This encouraged Leon to work even harder to impress the school administration so they would maintain this scholarship.
From school to street
However, after completing primary levels, the scholarship ended. His mum tried her best to support Leon but she became ill and he was forced to drop out of school as they could not afford it. He began working on the streets collecting scraps to sell and begging for food. Although they were struggling, his relatives didn’t come to their aid and he relied on help from other street connected children who taught him basic survival skills, like respecting the “Dog Cities” (those who have been on the street for a long time). Slowly but steadily, he adapted to this street life and began using drugs as life was so tough. He would often think about his mother and feel upset about his circumstances. One night he overheard a group of older street children talking about an organisation working with street connected children and he asked to be taken to it- this was S.A.L.V.E. International.
Recovery and reunion
There, he opened up to the social workers and explained everything including why he ended up doing drugs. He received lots of counselling sessions and throughout Leon was determined to get back home.
S.A.L.V.E. reconnected with Leon’s mother who had recovered from her illness and was desperate to have him home. Leon was admitted to our Drug Rehabilitation Centre and was reunited with his mother after successful treatment. S.A.L.V.E. organised for Leon to attend an education programme and he is doing well in school and has settled in. This all happened due to not only the support from S.A.L.V.E. but Leon’s determination to change his life and his strong resilience. We wish him all the best of luck in his endeavours.
* Name changed in line with our Child Protection Policy