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A Serene Dwelling Place for Benjamin

May 31st, 2022

Benjamin was taken to live with his grandmother when he was just three months old, after his parents separated. After a while, he went to live with his mother who was married to another man in the slums of Kibuli, Uganda. Due to the mistreatment he experienced, he ran to the streets and it was tough for him. Luckily, he was identified by Dwelling Places, rescued, supported and resettled with his family.


Parents’ separation

Benjamin was left under the care of his maternal grandmother when he was three months old. After his parents had separated, his mother moved to Kalanga, Uganda to search for greener pastures. While staying with his grandmother, he started stealing from her. ¨I would always regret stealing from my grandmother because every time I would steal I would go back to the streets and when the money is done I get stranded and would wish I had not stolen,¨ Benjamin recounted. After staying with his grandmother for a while, his mother returned and lived with them. This marked the beginning of trouble for Benjamin. His mother would beat him mercilessly and not even his grandmother’s intervention would restrain her. When it was too much to bear, Benjamin decided it was time to leave home. 

His return

They say east or west home is best. After a while Benjamin returned home since life on the streets was tougher than he thought. He found a few things had changed while he was away. His mother had remarried and stayed at a slum in Kibuli with her new husband. The twelve year old boy joined the family and soon learnt the atrocities of his new environment —the slum. Here, young people indulged in drugs and the crime rate was high. It didn’t take long before Benjamin succumbed to the influence. He would spend time both at home and on the streets. At home, the situation worsened day by day. His mother, a drug addict, would punish Benjamin and his sister so badly that one day she broke her daughter´s arm. This forced him to run to the streets because he felt unloved at home.

Life in the slum

Benjamin joined the street family in hopes of experiencing change —a different life from the ill treatment he was subjected to at home. Little by little, Benjamin began applying the ideas he had learnt from his peers. He started stealing from his family and everytime he would commit this crime, he would escape to the streets to hide. He once stole his uncle’s phone and disappeared. When he showed up at home again, his mother thoroughly beat him and he left for the streets again. This time round, he ran away for good.  Unfortunately his survival there grew harder and harder. He sold scrap metal and would make approximately 0.25 Euros to 0.50 Euros. It was a difficult activity to engage in since there was always too much to do with little results. Being a child, it was even worse and he was exploited in the process. 

Identified, rescued and supported

Benjamin was identified during a joint outreach conducted by Dwelling Places and he was rescued from the streets in June 2021. After two weeks of quarantine at a school, Benjamin and other children were taken to Wakiso District for rehabilitation for two months. Dwelling Places continued the rehabilitation in August 2021. During this process, he was offered guidance and counselling, catch-up education, health care, life skills lessons, nutrition support and other basic services, including clothes, shoes, bag among others.

Resettled at home

Through psychosocial support, Benjamin was able to forgive his mother, shared information about his family and sought to be reconciled. The family was traced and he got reconciled with his mother and he was resettled with her. However, when a social worker followed him up after three weeks of placement, he seemed unhappy and withdrawn. His mother recommended that it would be best if he stays with his grandparents. He was resettled with his grandparents, who lived with his only sister, in Kitenga. They were extremely happy to see him again.  When asked about how he feels at the moment, he happily said, “I feel good because my grandparents now know that I have changed.” Dwelling Places has also supported him  to go back to school, and enrolled him in primary four. When he grows up, Benjamin would like to be a scout and save lives. 

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