Hi my name is Paul and I run S.A.L.V.E.’s socia enterprise briquette making programme.
What is a family? Various scholars have differing meanings, interpretations and understandings for this, just like I believe you also have your own version to address this.
My take is that a family is the smallest political unit of a nation, be it of three or even hundreds, it carries a name family. It’s a very sensitive organ in that it is influential to the stability of village, Parish, Sub County and as far as the country is concerned. A stable family creates pride in the neighborhood. There will be less fights, quarrels, injustices or crimes. This will leave harmony, peace and development in the area and above all the greatest commandment of love will be honored.
But, sometimes due to instabilities in families, the place that once was called a home turns into hell. A place where the dad, mum and children once sat and enjoyed a meal outside around a fire place with story telling all full of joy can turn to be a battle field where they meet for war and shedding of tears.
Jack lived in the outskirts of Jinja, this is where he was born and raised. Unfortunately due to various re-occurring family conflicts between his mum and dad that escalated into their break up. This was sudden and happened under the witness of Jack. This was too much for a young boy in his infant stage where he needed lots of parental care and love. As usual a strong foundation makes a strong building, but Jack got the worst here, all he could see mom and dad do was argue with each other. This made him to think this was the case in all families as he never witnessed a smooth flow for his sixteen months on earth with his family.
His mother took him to live with her as they left their marital home. But she soon met another partner with whom they raised Jack until he was three years old, before he was taken back to his father’s place. Here he found his dad had moved on, and had remarried. This was a very challenging for Jack as the step mother always put her own children before him. This meant he was forced to do all the tedious work at home amidst heavy punishments. This was too much for such a young boy. But, lucky enough as his mother visited, she found the reality of the sorrow and pain her son went through, sorrow befell her and her son as they wept. She decided to take him back with her to Bugiri where she lived. Unfortunately the situation wasn’t much better than it was with his Dad as his step dad harassed him, he was made to do lots of the digging and yet wasn’t going to school. He was quite grown up now and was so hurt by the way he had been treated by those who were meant to love and care for him the most that he decided to run to the streets.
The S.A.L.V.E. International street outreach team found him on the streets of Jinja where we offered counselling, comfort and advice. He started attending our Drop in Centre regularly and we took him to the S.A.L.V.E. Halfway Home for extra counselling and guidance as we started to prepare him for a home tracing visit. He told us that he wanted to go back to live with his mother and gave us her phone number. Unfortunately his Mother had moved house so Jack didn’t know where she lived. When we spoke to her on the phone, she refused to have him back or to even tell us where she lived. It was such a huge blow to Jack to be rejected by his biological mother like this. But we stood with him through this and helped him to move forwards. He suggested being resettled with his grandparents but they also rejected him. This was so horrible for a young boy being rejected not only once but twice by his blood relatives. It made him suffer a lot physically and psychologically but with resilience he overcame.
Just as the greatest commandment states “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we as S.A.L.V.E. International haven’t taken this for granted, it doesn’t only exist in our name but its part of us. No matter who you are, where you are from or even what you do, let love be part of you.
Most children living on the streets are as a result of unstable family backgrounds, it is never their best option neither their choice. No one can stop this but only you and I together. Let’s be committed to our children we have had and those we are yet to. We choose to bring them into existence and we are therefore responsible for taking good care of them and ensuring they don’t have the same experience as Jack or any other child who has faced life on the streets.
We will keep working with Jack to ensure that he is given the counselling and support that he needs and that we find a suitable relative who can care for him.