Barnabas,12, left home in search of greener pastures. He ended up living on the streets and faced tough situations that affected his life. With our help, he was rescued, taken care of, and reunited with his foster parents.
Barnabas stayed in a foster home that comprises 7 children in Moroto, Uganda. He was taken care of by a lady when he was only 5 months old since his mother experienced mental health challenges and could not give him the best care. His foster mother is a nurse, and his foster father does casual work in a hospital which earns the family a living. Both foster parents contribute to the well-being of the entire family.
Barnabas´ routine was normal and his life was good. He would wake up in the morning and help with duties such as washing plates, fetching water, and sweeping the compound. Later in the day, he would play with his age-mates around his home.
Despite living a reasonably good life, Barnabas wanted a better, more fulfilling life for himself. One day, his friend informed him of the endless opportunities to earn money by working in restaurants and other fancy places in Kampala, Uganda.
Eager to enjoy this amazing promising future, Barnabas and his friend decided to travel by bus to Kampala in December 2020. Since they didn’t have money for transport, they hid under the chairs of the bus for the 8-10 hour journey where no one noticed them. They only got out when everyone was getting out. Unfortunately, the two boys separated because of the high congestion of people in the city.
Walking in the streets, sad and alone, Barnabas wondered what he would do to survive. He met other street children who encouraged him to collect bottles for sale and beg for money from people while on the streets. They also advised him to fetch water for restaurants in town to earn a meal and that is exactly what he did, earning an average of 0.25 to 0.38 Euros just to get by.
The street life was anything but what he thought it would be. He would get beaten up by the older boys who were asking for money he had collected during the day which attributed to his lower abdominal and scrotal pain. He could not get any treatment for that. He faced a very tough, unbearable life for more than three months. ”Life is hard on the streets, it is extremely cold in the night and even getting what to eat is very difficult and I was sad most of the time. He explained.
In June 2021, Barnabas was rescued together with 161 other street boys through a mass rescue outreach conducted by our partner Dwelling Places and other organisations. He was admitted to a primary school and later transferred to a campsite where he received shelter, a comfortable bed, food, holistic health care, psychosocial support, and life skills training.
Barnabas was then taken to a Rehabilitation Home in Buloba after the Covid-19 lockdown where he received shelter, nutrition, catch-up education, health services, and psychosocial support. He successfully underwent surgery to remove fluid that had accumulated in his scrotum which helped reduce on the swelling and is now pain-free. He became more playful and wears a smile most of the time, which was rare at the point of rescue.
Speaking about how his life changed, he stated, “On the street, I used to not sleep well and at Dwelling Places I sleep well, I looked for money while on the street and ate but here I take break tea and eat food without paying. I was not going to school while on the street but I’m studying while here.”
“I want to build my grass-thatched house, I will be washing utensils, sweeping the compound, going to school and praying while at home.” And when I finish school and become a doctor, I want to treat all the people who have no money for treatment and my mother too’.Barnabas explained.
He is now reintegrated with his foster parents with regular follow-ups done by the project team to ensure he is safe, healthy and happy.