Samuel, a 58 year old man, is a father of three girls and a subsistence peasant farmer living in a small village in Lokopo sub-county, Uganda. He was born and grew up in a pastoral cattle keeping community. Education did not mean much to Samuel since he dropped out of school in primary seven to take care of his father’s livestock.
Prior to Samuel’s engagement with the Community Action project, he had a completely different perspective about children going to Kampala to beg in the streets. However, through the informative and educational dialogue meetings, he was able to learn more about his role in ending child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. He is now a proud child protection champion, teaching community members about the dangers of child neglect & trafficking and informing parents on the role they should play to safeguard their children from harm.
“Initially before the help from Dwelling places reached us in our community, we as parents and community members thought that the street life was the only viable option to earn a living. We left our children to go and beg in the streets, and many of them faced difficulties like being robbed, physically abused and some children were lost to road accidents. Many of our children here in Lokopo went and never came back, those who managed to come back, came with wounds and scars on their bodies, but it was the only way to survive and every family and community member viewed life that way.”He explained.
In December 2020, Dwelling places launched the Community Action project to end child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. One of the project goals was to identify, form, train and establish community structures such as private sector actors, child protection champions, religious and cultural leaders.
With the support from district and sub county officials, Samuel was identified by the sub county officials and local council leaders as an active member of the cultural group but also a very active, motivated and dedicated person who had interest in and later joined the child protection group in his sub county. He underwent a series of parenting trainings, meetings and dialogues on prevention of child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. One of the trainings was the positive parenting trainings and feedback meetings that aimed at shifting attitudes of the community members from traditional radical norms such as early child marriage, little or no value in children’s education, and trafficking children to urbanised places to be beggars - to dynamic, informed/ empowered and resilient persons who attach value to children.
With the knowledge acquired now, Samuel, who is a community member of a parish, sensitises youths on child trafficking and sexual exploitation protection and prevention in the trading center every morning. He later visits a nearby school to provide career motivation as well as counsel children. He has voluntarily engaged parents in identifying, reporting and following up on cases. In the month of April 2022, Samuel in liaison with one of the child protection champions and the Local Area Council identified and followed up a sexual exploitation case which was documented and handled by the police unit of the sub county. At home, Samuel engages his family in informative talks about life skills and general parenting advice from time to time.
Samuel is now re-energized to be a change and advocacy agent against any form of child trafficking and exploitation. He wishes to keep doing more greater deeds which are beneficial to the community with the motive of reducing child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“Through my participation in the project, I have gained so much in terms of knowledge and skills as far as ending child trafficking and sexual exploitation in Napak is concerned, and I will use my skills to make sure that a good home is created for the children of Napak.” He said.