My name is Tiyo and I am a Home Assistant at S.A.L.V.E. International’s Drug Rehabilitation Centre. This is the story of (Enock)* told in his own words…
A Normal Beginning
My name is Enock, a 12 year old boy from Eastern Uganda and this is my story. One Saturday morning, like any other day the sun was shining and the birds were humming and my mama was washing clothes outside. Often she would check on the fresh cassava she was preparing for breakfast whilst the children were playing and everybody seemed to be busy like bees in their colony. It was a beautiful day and everything was running smoothly as nature had planned.
I was making a toy car from fence wires, tubing and other scrap materials. The wire had run out and I need more to finish the car. Since mama was busy and I didn’t want to bother her I snuck out. While out searching for wire I found a spade on the rubbish ground where people throw unwanted items so I picked it up and continued my search. A tall man came towards me and as I felt a bit worried about him approaching me I moved to the opposite side of the road but he followed me. I started to feel scared, then he said “young man, are you a thief? Where did you steal this spade from?” I was lost for words as I began to panic. He added that he would take me to police if I didn’t tell him the truth. Fear ran through my body and my eyes filled with tears but he insisted that we were going to the station and I was locked in a police cell for a long time.
Locked Up and Escape
The man returned the next morning and continued with his accusation and said I would pay for my sins. He called my mama and claimed I stole his spade and that he was going to send me to the main police station and from there I would be transferred to a children’s detention centre. At the station, I was allowed to talk to my mother for a few minutes and I told her the truth about finding the spade. Mama begged them to pardon me but the man refused. She also tried to give him money for the spade but he insisted that he wants to teach me a lesson. My mother broke down and the policeman returned me to the cell and I was full of fear. After a while, I asked to use the toilet which was behind the police station and I took this opportunity to jump over the wall and run away.
I travelled to a neighbouring district by hitching lifts and stayed for two days, but in my heart, I knew that the policeman would find me and I felt unsafe. When I heard that some other children were going to travel, I didn’t hesitate to join them on their journey because I wanted to just disappear and go to a distant place where I would not be found.
I followed the other boys blindly to the new destination as I wanted to be safe from the policeman but little did I know that I was going to face a tougher challenge. It was like jumping from a frying pan into a fire. The situation was so difficult living on the streets that I resorted to begging and sniffing fuel to cope. One time whilst begging, a man slapped me so hard that I blacked out. When I gained consciousness I started thinking of my mother and that I wanted to return home and this made me cry. One of the street connected children asked why I was upset and I told him I wanted to go home. Luckily he decided to help me and took me to the S.A.L.V.E. International Drop In Centre where children meet and take part in a variety of programmes to help children like me.
A New Beginning
From that point, things changed for the better and I had a fresh start in life. As I had started sniffing fuel they put me in their Drug Rehabilitation Programme and referred me to the main residential site for more help like counselling, further rehabilitation, education and practical support such as clothing, food and medication.
The process I went through had a huge positive impact on my life. I finished the programme and was reunited with my mother and siblings. Thankfully the issue with the spade was resolved and I was happily resettled home.
Thank you so much S.A.L.V.E. International for the love and care you offered me and to other children to feel special and have a new beginning.