Deborah, who is 10 years old, lives in Uganda. Her parents contribute to the household´s economy. Her father is a fisherman whereas her mother sells firewood and also sells clothes occasionally. However, a casual trip to Uganda´s capital changed everything for Deborah.
In November 2020, Deborah, her three siblings and her mother travelled to Kampala. Deborah´s mother wanted to get more clothes to sell. Unfortunately, when they reached the city, one of Deborah´s siblings fell ill. Her mother had to make a tough choice to leave Deborah and her two siblings in the care of her friend who lives in one of Uganda´s largest slums as she sought to help her ailing child.
The mother´s friend forced the children to go and beg for money in the streets. This posed a great threat to them as they faced the risk of trafficking, violence and sexual exploitation. Since Deborah was the eldest of her two siblings she was forced to beg during the cold wee hours of the morning. Describing how she felt back then, she said, “I felt bad when I saw other children going to school and I wished that I could also go back to school.” Deborah was exploited under the guise of getting money to feed her and her siblings.
Deborah’s health became worse. She had skin rashes, fever, suffered headaches, upper respiratory tract infection and she had throat pain possibly attributed to the cold she had to endure as she begged strangers for money in the streets.
Luckily, the Dwelling Places rescue team was conducting outreach in the streets of Kampala in April 2021 when they came across Deborah and her siblings. During these outreach activities, the team would normally build a rapport with the children they find in order to help them get rehabilitated.
Deborah and her two siblings were rescued and brought into the Transitional Rehabilitation Home (TRH) for protection and support as they waited for reintegration. While at the rehabilitation home, Deborah received etiquette classes, medical assistance, catch-up education classes and weekly counselling. Her health condition has tremendously improved and so has her hygiene. Deborah and her siblings were scheduled to be reintegrated back home but due to the recent Covid-19 restrictions in Uganda, they have had to be in the shelter a little longer than they expected.
Deborah who is learning new things at the home is generally very happy to be off the streets and in a comfortable home with access to as much food as she wants and other basic items. She concluded by saying, “I want to make my parents proud and build for them a big house.”