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Back to School, Happy and Loved

July 22nd, 2022

One would imagine that having four mothers means enjoying insatiable amounts of love and care. Ian would have wished that this was the case for him, but unfortunately, it wasn´t. When his mother abandoned him at the age of three, his father (who was polygamous) would take him to live with his different stepmothers. They mistreated him and he was forced to seek refuge at his grandmother's house. Sadly, he got lost his way and ended up on the streets of Buwama, Uganda. He was later identified, rescued and taken back to school.

Life with four stepmothers

Ian was born in a polygamous family. His father had four wives, including his mother.  His mother took care of him since infancy, but abandoned him and his father in 2015 when he was only three years old. Ian´s father worked as a boda boda operator, earning approximately 2.55 Euros per day. Since the head of the house was barely at home, the boy would be taken care of by his stepmothers —he'd stay with each on one of them on different days. As time went by, the experience turned to be hurtful for Ian since his stepmothers would constantly beat him.

Leaving home

Ian could not withstand  the beatings from his stepmothers anymore. So he hatched a plan —to escape to his grandmother's house  in Katebo. He felt that he would be safe there and away from the misery he went through at home. Time came for him to set off. Unfortunately, he had not mastered the route well and this made him get lost. Being in the middle of nowhere, Ian had no one to run to, so he ended up on the streets of Buwama in Uganda.

Life on the streets

Street life turned out to be harsh and Ian became extremely miserable. Getting food was a great challenge —a situation that pushed him to steal people's food in the shops. He would lay on verandahs at night, bearing all the cold, mosquitoes and risking his life. This continued for days, until someone identified him. 

Identified and rescued

While on the streets in April 2018, when he was seven, a good samaritan identified Ian and reported the missing child case to the police. After efforts to identify his family became unsuccessful, he was referred to Dwelling Places for support and protection. Ian continued to withhold information about his family for fear that he would go back to his old life. Later on, he was taken to a rehabilitation home where he was counselled. In May 2021, the project team embarked on tracing his parents. They met one of the child's family members who directed them to his father.

Happily settled with family

After several sessions were held to address the boy´s fears and concerns, he was reunited with his father and resettled at home in Wakiso District in July 2021. He was enrolled in a kindergarten and a primary school in Buddo. A follow up is conducted quarterly by a Social Worker to monitor his progress and assess his access to education, health, housing, nutrition, child protection and legal aid in case of need. When asked about the current situation at home, Ian said, “I feel good because I am  loved at home  and I play with my fellow siblings.” He wants to be a farmer when he grows up to secure food for people. 

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