When families are broken, it is often children that suffer the consequences. This has been shown through many of the stories told by street connected children when they decide to open up to their case workers.
Due to frequent fighting within her family, Lydia decided to run away from home fearing for her safety. Her parents had failed to agree about the ownership of the family land. In reality it had been her mother who had worked hardest to buy this piece of land, however in their district women were not expected to be property owners.
One day when Lydia had gone gardening with her father, he shouted at her and made her work harder and faster. On her route home, Lydia decided to run away and disappeared. She was not seen by her family until three years later when her parents got a call from S.A.L.V.E. International social workers informing them that their child had been seen roaming the streets of Jinja. She had stayed with a group of women in a slum location where they survived through sex work and selling illegal drugs like marijuana. Lydia had also become addicted to drugs whilst there.
By the time she was found on the streets, her addiction had grown, her health was deteriorating and she needed serious medical attention which she could not afford.
Lydia started attending the S.A.L.V.E. Drop In Centre for help and support with these issues, and friendly social interaction with others. At the Centre she found it hard to concentrate because of her addiction but she was encouraged to stay calm and participate with the groups. This is when her talent with drawing was discovered and she was encouraged to practice often.
Soon she began to concentrate better on the lessons and understood the education given at the Centre. She learnt about the dangers of her drug use and the consequences of this. Therefore she decided to continue her healing journey at the S.A.L.V.E. Drug Rehabilitation Centre. This proved to be a good move, as her drawing talent grew and she was able to express herself more. At the Centre she made lots of friends who kept on encouraging and supporting her with her new, changed life.
S.A.L.V.E. made contact with Lydia’s father who sadly stated he wanted nothing to do with her. Nevertheless, they kept on looking until her mother was found. She was so happy to hear that her daughter was still alive because the family thought that she had been kidnapped and sacrificed in a ritual killing (a practice that sadly still happens in Uganda, often to vulnerable children).
Lydia’s mother was keen to engage with S.A.L.V.E. and she attended the family counselling sessions. These were very beneficial and were followed by a recent successful integration to her family who held a big party for her return. Lydia is now settled at home with her mother and has just started attending a nearby school. She is still a brilliant artist and improving all the time.
Hopes for the future
A child’s development, skills and confidence are built when they are able to stay within settled, safe and protective families. This can only be ensured through the collective efforts of parents/guardians, local community and religious leaders, civil society organisations and governments. S.A.L.V.E. International works with all these groups to protect children and we therefore call upon all that have any input to join hands with us to continue protecting the dear lives of children, especially those that are most vulnerable, like street connected children.
*Names are changed in line with our Child Protection Policy