What happens when you let children make your decisions for a week…

Hello, my name is Solomon and I am a social worker in Uganda supporting and working alongside children. Working with children is something I love to do and everyday is always so interesting when you are working with children. I have decided to take on this challenge of allowing children to make my decisions for me for a week because I believe that we need to do more to listen to and empower the children in our communities.

Children have a natural straight way of communicating that sometimes causes them to relate to others in surprising and interesting ways. I choose this challenge to help them develop this healthy emotional connection, realise and build their confidence and expressing a feeling that children can be listened to and respected. Let’s see how they have me behave – will they be kind or harsh decision makers? Tune in this week to find out – or even better join me so we can share our experiences together.

Please show your support: I am using this challenge to fundraise so that we can support more children to be heard, empowered and to leave the streets.

Day 1:

It all started like a normal day in the Drop in Centre…

Then one child tasked me to fetch water for him so that he could clean himself. This was fine and I filled and carried his water for him.

Then I was tasked to play with a toy and behave like a child. To be honest this was fun and I felt like a child again!

I had a lot of fear that they would want me to do uncomfortable things, but today wasn’t too scary.

I had four children making my decisions today – aged between 8-15 years.

I think with this being the first day of the challenge the children feared to give me anything too bad and they were perhaps thinking that as an adult I couldn’t listen to them and do the things they were asking. They might have feared I could be angry at them, or they might have felt pity for me. Who knows?

They have promised to think about more different ideas for me tomorrow… so let’s wait and see!

Day 2:

Today I was sad as I missed out on my challenge. The children who attended the Drop in Centre told me they didn’t like it.

They told me it was not proper since I am their elder and their uncle for them to tell me what to do. I tried my level best to convince them it was possible and I was so open and willing to hear from them.

But today I failed … Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I didn’t realise this challenge could be so hard. A child living on the streets can end up with such low self confidence that they cannot believe that an adult person could really allow them control over them in this way. It is humbling to find this out.

Day 3:

Today the children went the extra mile, as if to make up for the children of yesterday. They wanted to try something they thought could be impossible for a man in Uganda. They asked me to put on a bra and a dress.

Their logic was that since women have started to put on trousers, why can’t men start to put on a dress? They wanted to show it was unfair or unequal to them. But here in Uganda it is too unusual for a man to put on a ladies clothes. People might think I had gone mad.

Today Solomon was Aunt Solo. It was good to act as a women and I also did some of the work around the house that is traditionally viewed as women’s work for example cooking and serving food. I did it all with passion to express that men and women can be the same in all things.

I liked the way the children were following me at all times and were so happy. They couldn’t believe that I could take this instruction from them.

The big question is what will they bring for me to do next? Watch this space to find out! And please show some support – it’s really an unusual thing in Uganda for a gentleman to wear ladies clothes. Your supoprt can add energy for me to continue in my challenge. Thank you.

Day 4

My day started normally with great interaction with the children. As we enjoyed time together, I was tasked to be a good mother to all the children around me.

I asked them what being a good mother could look like according to them. They suggested by cooking for them breakfast and getting them what to eat and serve them the food with care. They told me that on the streets you miss your mother’s love so much and they felt that as a big inequality between street and home life.

It was lovely seeing them happy while they felt the extra care I was giving them today. To me this really showed how much they miss that parental love, which is so often shown by the mother here in Uganda. On the streets you always have to care for yourself.

Other people have been laughing at me and making fun of me as I do this challenge and have really been so suprised that I could allow the children to be my boss for this week.

But to me the thing I have loved the most is the children’s response. After not believing it could be true in the beginning, now they are too too happy about it. They have even requested that all adults should try it. It will help them to understand the life of a child who is so often not listened to or respected, and just expected to do as they are told everytime.

Day 5:

Today I requested for some time explained myself and the challenge I was taking to a family in my community and they were receptive. After listening to me they called the children to come and be my bosses. They looked excited.








I was confident and I thought they would give me a simple challenge, till one young sharp and bright boy told me I would like you to carry me and you help my mother cut the fence and trees around our home.

The reason why they chose this when I shared with them, they said some children face problems of acting as a parent to their young siblings. Especially this is the case with their step parents. And the children don’t like that the parents don’t take time to acknowledge and appreciate what they do. They feel that parents are only wanting to see work is done, forgetting they are children not supposed to suffer.

I felt a little embarrassed because at some point got tired of carrying the young boy but kept on adapting slowly by slowly…. somehow I ended up lower to the ground!

The art and joy of listening to children

Talking and listening to children does lots of important things. It improves your bond with them, and encourages them to listen to you. It helps them to form relationships and to build self-esteem.

I would like to interact more with children to learn, listen and have a feeling of what they say, how they say it and also give them a sense anyone or especially their thoughts can be taken in and followed, offering responses to questions, and gaining their attention. In my day to day practice I find it rewarding, fascinating and sometimes downright puzzling when working with children on understanding and developing their social skills.

Language is power, and when we equip our precious little ones with the ability to engage and interact appropriately with elders, we are taking them one step further toward and self-actualisation and independence.

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