George is a 13-year-old boy who is currently undergoing rehabilitation in one of the transitional rehabilitation homes in Uganda. However, this has not always been his home. His mother left the family when he was very young and so George had been living with his father and five siblings. His father is a policeman but he is not always around as he moves to different stations. As a result, the children are left in the care of their eldest sibling, a 16-year-old girl, who is part of the reason why Geroge is in a rehabilitation centre.
Even though the family could afford three meals a day, for George, the chores given to him by his older sister were quite a lot. In addition to this, she verbally and physically abused him which ultimately pushed him to run away to the streets. While on the streets, he slept under a bridge near a well-known supermarket. During day time, he would look for old bottles and boxes for resale to buy food. For 10 months, this became George´s life. While George’s home was barely walking distance from this spot, he still did not go back home because, according to him, he didn’t want to live with his sister.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, Uganda went under lockdown and life became difficult for young George. He decided to try to go back home, but his father told him to go back to where he had been staying. Despite George asking for forgiveness multiple times, his father completely refused to welcome him back home. He was completely shuttered and gave up on ever going back home since he felt unaccepted.
Luckily for George, an outreach programme was in place and he was one of the 161 street connected boys rescued. This was conducted by TdH NL and Dwelling Places in partnership with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and like-minded CSOs under the CRANE Network. During the lockdown period, George received all forms of support and aid: food, shelter, a comfortable bed to sleep on, holistic health care, psychosocial support, and life skills training, catch up education and even counselling. George still continues to receive health education, weekly counselling services and practical lessons on hygiene.
George has learnt the value of living in a family. He has learnt that in a normal family, everyone has a role to play. With the mentorship sessions and activities at the rehabilitation home, George has learnt the importance of a family and has requested support to be reconciled with his father so that he can go back home again. He has promised never to run away from home once his father accepts him. “At first I didn’t want to go back home but now I want to go because I know that home is the best place to be. Even if my sister gives me too much work, I will help because that is what we do in families.” He said. For now, George enjoys attending daily fellowships and is looking forward to going back to school. Hopeful about his future, he stated, “I want to become an artist and a footballer because I love drawing pictures and playing football.”