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Back home after ten years on the streets of Kampala, Uganda

February 25th, 2021

Dan (18 years): “My last day in class was when I was eight years old. I made a hole in the school fence and I escaped. Kampala was tempting, and together with friends I jumped on a truck going to the city. That was ten years ago.”

Street life

“I decided to run since I felt neglected. My step mother mistreated me. I was left in a boarding school. My father did not provide the supplies I needed. He also did not come to see me on visiting day. I might as well try my luck in Kampala.”

“All those years, I survived on the streets. Several times I had to sleep outside in the open. The tougher boys coerced me to take drugs like marijuana, fight with other children and engage in petty crimes like theft. They convinced me to keep away from school and any family ties, as that would have caused me to get arrested or even lose my life.”

Rescue

“I came into the rehabilitation programme in March 2020*. When Covid-19 broke out, the lockdown in Uganda resulted in completely deserted streets. There was no way I could survive like that. For eight months I stayed at the rehabilitation centre, where I was prepared for life after the streets. I was trained in motor vehicle engineering, followed by a two month practical.”

Reunited

“I was scared however that I would no longer fit in with my family. Even at the point of reunification, I begged my social worker to reunite me with my uncle instead. I thought my father would be furious, and I feared facing him. To my surprise, he forgave me; even for the crime of the broken fence, which he had to replace.”

“My father was very happy to see me - he thought I had passed away. He had reported my disappearance to the police, but all this time there had not been a trace of me. Thanks to my education, I can now get a stable job and help my father with money for the family.”

* Together with the Ugandan authorities and other organisations, our partner Dwelling Places took part in a mass rescue of street children. Children were taken off the streets at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kampala, to protect them and to rehabilitate them.
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