Eric, 14 and his three siblings were left under the care of their maternal uncle and aunt after their mother abandoned them. Life was normal for him, up until his uncle turned cruel towards him and started beating him. At some point, the beatings became so unbearable for Eric that he ran away from home to the Gulu streets of Uganda. With our support, Eric was rescued, reunited with his family and taken back to school.
While other children retired to their parents at home after school, Eric would go to his uncle's house —a place he called home. Eric and his three siblings became part of their maternal uncle´s family after his mother abandoned them. Her whereabouts still remain unknown to him. His uncle continued to support the family with daily needs, including providing two basic meals a day. The situation worsened when his uncle was sent to prison. Eric and his siblings had to drop out of school when they were in primary two.
The environment at home turned out to be miserable for Eric before the uncle got arrested. The man who was now Eric´s father figure, would subject him to verbal and physical abuse. At times, he would be starved as punishment for his mistakes. When his uncle´s abuse became unbearable, Eric made a decision to flee to the streets of Gulu. He longed to have a loving, affectionate and peaceful family. Upon arrival in Gulu, he met other street children who welcomed him, and after staying there for two weeks, they decided to pay for his trip to Kampala. The city life was extremely hard and unbearable for him. He hardly had any food to eat and he would sleep under the bridge or veranda every night. For Eric, this was better than going back to a place with no love, a place he would be beaten mercilessly despite his endless pleas. He had endured enough already and had no other choice left.
In June 2021, Eric was identified by the Dwelling Places team who were conducting a joint outreach programme in Kampala and taken to a safe shelter. He was later rehabilitated and when asked about his family, he completely became reluctant to disclose any information about them. Fortunately, through the psychosocial support sessions and the life skills lessons he received, he finally agreed to share details about his family.
Eric finally accepted to be reunited with his family. His family was traced and he was later resettled with a different uncle and aunt. He is being fed regularly and not punished the way he used to. The family relies on farming to meet their needs, which is hardly enough. Through the Community Action Project, Eric´s aunt was supported to rebuild her business of selling assorted items that had initially collapsed. ¨I love my second uncle and his wife so much because they have shown me love,¨ Eric said happily when asked about the biggest change in his life. He wants to study, become a doctor in future and be independent.