Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda

Dec 22, 2011

A Brighter Christmas For Andrew

Street Life
Street Life

We are now counting down the days, opening the last few doors on our Advent Calendars and buying last minute presents before Christmas. Christmas is the season of good will, please take a few moments to slow down and read Andrew’s story about being on the streets and how thanks to your support he is with a safe and loving family this Christmas.

Please consider giving a Tribute Card to someone you love. The money from this gift will allow Retrak to help more children like Andrew. Go to ‘Gift’ here - ...

It was December and Andrew was just 12 years old. He set off from his rural home for Kampala, Uganda’s capital. He didn’t know anyone in the city, but, since his family wasn’t able to keep him in school, he was determined to find someone to help him continue his education.

Like many children who end up on streets, Andrew’s vulnerability stems from poverty and family breakdown. In Uganda more than half of all children are considered to be vulnerable and over 60% do not live with their biological parents. In Andrews’s case it was his father’s drinking and the subsequent beatings that drove his family apart.

Retrak's staff regularly visit the streets and slum areas where many street children hang out in Kampala. It’s on the streets of Kampala that the Retrak staff met Andrew last Christmas. He had been on the streets for almost a year and found street life to be hard and unforgiving; he wasn't able to earn much money and feared for his safety at night. Andrew went with the Retrak staff to the drop in centre where he was able to find a safe space to sleep, get washed, relax and receive a good meal. After a few weeks Andrew joined Retrak’s halfway home, designed to give children the security and care needed to overcome their past experiences and move forward. This was just what Andrew needed. He struggled with anger towards his father. He often retreated into himself and found it hard to accept the love and support on offer. Through a lot of patient counselling, encouragement in class and participation in fun activities, Andrew slowly learnt to forgive his father and to even wonder how he could help his father overcome his addiction.

Retrak accompanied Andrew on a visit to his family. Sadly the situation had not changed and with his family still dispersed there was no home that he could return to. As Retrak supports the goal of the Uganda government and of keeping children in families, the next step was to identify a foster family for Andrew. Although foster care for street children is still rare in Uganda, Retrak’s experience meant that a suitable family was identified and trained. After a few more weeks Andrew was ready to move in with his foster family. They made him feel very welcome and his new brothers were excited to have him as part of the family. With ongoing support and guidance from Retrak, Andrew’s foster family has given him the care and sense of belonging which has allowed him to go from strength to strength.

Thanks to your support Andrew is safe with a loving family this Christmas.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

The Retrak Team X

Dec 1, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

Retrak & Kick4Life Soccer HIV-prevention Project
Retrak & Kick4Life Soccer HIV-prevention Project

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We want to tell you about the work that Retrak do in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Thanks to the incredible support you give Retrak, in 2010 over 550 street children learnt about HIV/AIDS. Retrak is working hard to educate street children about HIV/AIDS and increase their knowledge helping to reduce their chance of infection.

Retrak & Kick4Life Soccer HIV-prevention Project

Retrak works with “full time” street children that are disconnected from the protection of their family, they live and work on the streets and are at constant risk of exploitation, abuse and poor health. Many street children are HIV-affected having lost a relative through a HIV-related illness, at risk of sexual abuse, or being infected themselves. 

The Global HIV Prevention Working Group insists that evidence-based behaviour change can avert up to 50% of the 15 million new infections projected to occur in the next decade. Education and behaviour change programs are not only amongst the world’s most cost-effective health interventions but also have the greatest potential to reverse the HIV pandemic. Thanks to your support Retrak have been able to introduce this pilot programme to both Uganda and Ethiopia.

Our Goal

The programme uses soccer as a vehicle to increase knowledge of HIV, reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS and prevent new HIV infections in street children.

The soccer based HIV-prevention project supports street children and adolescents living with HIV (and the consequences of HIV), and their families within their communities by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS;
  • Combating misunderstandings, stigmatisation and discrimination around HIV/AIDS

Retrak has partnered with Kick4Life, a non-profit organisation based in Lesotho that uses the power of soccer to stop the spread of HIV. Retrak and Kick4Life have piloted a football based HIV prevention project for street children in Kampala, Uganda. Retrak and Kick4Life have design a HIV curriculum specifically targeting vulnerable street children. Retrak have been working over the last few months with Kick4Life to deliver the interactive HIV prevention programme to street boys aged 7-17.

The curriculum focuses on building basic life skills that help boys and girls adopt healthy behaviours and live risk-free. Through a series of interactive activities, soccer and discussions students gain a tangible understanding of HIV and AIDS and get a chance to practice the skills necessary for sustainable behaviour change. Key curricular topics include making healthy decisions, avoiding risks, building support networks, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing knowledge about HIV testing and treatment, addressing gender issues, and assessing values.

Thanks to the support that you give Retrak and street children in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya Retrak is able to offer basic but imaginative catch up education for the children, focussing on key subjects such as literacy, numeracy, health and HIV/AIDS. The access to education is vital in building up the self esteem of each child which in turn helps to improve their chances of a successful return back into the community.

Nov 23, 2011

Support Street Children in Uganda This Christmas

Happy to be back with his sister...
Happy to be back with his sister...

In Kampala the capital of Uganda there are over 5,000 children living on the streets. These children are among some of the most vulnerable in the world and really need your support. Why not give a ‘tribute card’ this Christmas. Show your love to your friends and family through Retrak ‘tribute cards’. These cards enable us to return children to safe and loving homes or provide older street children like Hussein (below) with vocational training so that they can have a real alternative to life on the streets.

Go to ‘Gift’ here - ...

and transform the life of a street child this Christmas.

Hussein came to the streets when he was about 15yrs. He had run away from his fathers place after his mother had died. When she was alive he would wake up in the morning and see the smoke from the kitchen and know that breakfast was coming. When he was left with just his father there was never any smoke in the mornings, his father was not able to care for him on his own.


After more than 2 years on the streets of Kampala, Hussein was introduced to Retrak. He was often silent and not willing to open up. But after the hard work of the social workers and being moved to Tudabujja under the loving care and support of the house mothers, Hussein began to change. Slowly he began to show interest in going home.


In October, the Retrak team went with Hussein to his father’s place where they found that his father had remarried. The team and family were able to discuss the situation and the father readily accepted to take Hussein. He stayed with his father and they were given school fees for the start of the new school year in January.


The subsequent follow-ups have shown that Hussein is settling in well and attending school, although it is difficult for him since he is much older than his classmates. He is keen to finish his studies and start a vocational training course. His relationship with his father is much better and he is happy to be at home to look after his little sister. Hussein is thankful to Retrak for helping him move away from street life an allowing him to build bridges with his family.


Aug 26, 2011

Najja's Story

Nazza trying to find a safe place to sleep
Nazza trying to find a safe place to sleep

Najja lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS when he was 12 years old. As his mum was weakened by the sickness, she thought it wise to take both Najja and his younger brother to stay with their aunty. Their auntie didn't have very much money as she also cared for her own children and their father was no longer around. 

Their grandmother would send money for their school tuition fees but their aunty needed to use it to pay for the family food. Soon the boys were made to leave school. Najja decided that if he ran away to Kampala he would be able to get a job and earn money for himself and his brother.

He spent a year in the city, living and working on the streets. He was often hungry and could only make a tiny bit of money collecting plastic bottles. He was scared to go home though as he knew he had been wrong to run away. At night time he was very scared and lonely. He was often kicked and beaten by adults who didn't think he should be sleeping on the streets.

One of Najja's friends told him about the Retrak centre and how he could have food and shelter there. He decided to go along and see if they could help him get a job. He wanted to be able to look after himself and his little brother.

Najja is now at Retrak Uganda's half way home Tudabujja. He has been having catch up lessons and is doing well at school. He gets on well with the other children at Tuda and works hard. He now wants to return to a family again who can look after him how he has been looked after at Tudabujja.

“I learnt how to do farming, and how to play foot ball. When I go back home I will miss all the mothers in Tudabujja plus the papa and all the other friends of mine."

Najja went to visit his auntie's home but the family was in a needy situation. She was delighted to see him and had been very worried about him. Najja was also able to see his little brother and was amazed at how much he had grown! Retrak saw that the Aunty would not be able to look after Najja as well as her other children.

Retrak got in touch with Najja's Grandmother and they went to visit her. She was amazed at how much he had changed while he had been away from home. She shouted to her neighbours to come and see him. They were amazed and wanted to know how Retrak had found him. The Retrak staff explained how Retrak works with street children and how Najja has come to them for help.

Najja is now living with his Grandmother and his little brother. They are both at school and are very happy being back together as a family. Najja hopes that he will be able to help street children when he is older. He prays that no child will be lonely and alone like he was and is thankful that he will never have to return to the streets thanks to the continued support from Retrak.

Thank you for supporting the work that Retrak do and enabling us to find children like Najja a real alternative to life on the streets.

Apr 27, 2011

Paulo's Story

Paulo playing at the drop in center
Paulo playing at the drop in center

Paulo lost both his mother and father to AIDS.  When his mother had become sick she decided to take Paulo and his brother to live with their fathers sister. There auntie was very welcoming to the two boys even though she struggled financially with her own children.

Paulo’s maternal grandmother would send them money to pay for their school tuition but their aunty would keep the money to help buy food for the family. Paulo and his brother were eventually sent away from school. Paulo knew he had to look after his little brother and make sure he had a good education. He believed that he would be able to make some money if he ran away to Kampala and got a job.

Life in Kampala was very hard. Paulo was forced to sleep on the streets as he had nowhere to go. He tried to collect scrap metal and plastic bottles to earn money but he struggled to make enough money to feed himself. Paulo new there was no way that he would be able to send money home to his little brother. He lived on the streets in Kampala for a year as he was too afraid and ashamed to go back home.

The Retrak staff met Paulo during street outreach and invited him to visit the drop in centre. Paulo went to the drop in centre the next day and was able to have a hot meal and see a nurse. He started to visit the centre regularly to play with the other children and have catch up lessons.

The Retrak staff knew that Paulo desperately wanted to be with his brother again and started to look for a way for him to return home. They visited his aunty but saw that she was struggling to cope financially. They then went to see his Grandmother on his mother’s side and spoke to her about her grandchildren. She was desperate to see her grandchildren and more than happy to take them both in.

When the Retrak staff took Paulo to meet his Grandmother she didn’t recognize him. Other members of the family came along to see the boy that they believed they would never see again. Paulo was delighted to see that his family still wanted him.

The family thanked the Retrak staff and gave them drinks to celebrate the Paulo’s return. His grandmother was very pleased that her two grandchildren would be living with her soon.

 Just a week after Paulo had been taken to see his grandmother he was on his way back home. He knew his grandmother and little brother were waiting for him and he couldn’t be happier. The pain of living on the streets was starting to disappear.

Paulo is now back in school and doing well with his catch up lessons. The Retrak staff have been to visit the family and are delighted to report back about how well he is doing.



Thank you for supporting Retrak and enabling children like Paulo to have a real alternative to life on the streets.

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Retrak America

Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, United Kingdom

Project Leader

Joan Townsend

US Country Director
Washington, DC United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda