Nyombi went to the streets when he was only 10
Nyombi is 15 years old and had been living on the streets for five years. After losing both of his parents to HIV/AIDS, Nyombi went to live with his grandmother, but life with her was hard. He often ate only one meal a day and was constantly hungry. He couldn’t concentrate in school and he would get in trouble in the village for taking fruit from the neighbors’ gardens.
Nyombi and a friend decided to leave their village and go to the Kampala suburb of Nateete, where they had heard they could find work. But a local official found them and took them to the police, where they were beaten and returned home.
At his home village, Nyombi says “I could not stay there because everyone was talking ill of me.” He returned to Nateete and got a job making chapatti (flatbread), but he narrowly escaped death when a mob tried to stone him after he stole the equivalent of $14 from his boss. The mob beat him and dragged him to his uncle’s home, hoping that the uncle would repay the boss and take responsibility for the boy, but the uncle told the mob that he wanted nothing to do with Nyombi and that they could do what they wished with him.
The mob then took Nyombi to the police, where Nyombi stayed in their custody for two weeks, until he escaped back to the streets of Kampala. He was able to survive by scavenging scrap metal and by begging and digging through garbage bins. On many occasions, bigger boys on the street would take the money that he had worked for throughout the day. Drugs helped Nyombi to forget his hard life.
One night, Retrak outreach workers approached Nyombi and his friends as they were getting ready to sleep on the streets. They told them about the Retrak drop-in center and told them how to find it. They next morning, Nyombi decided to just go to see the drop-in center, but he ended up going in and staying there. Soon after, he went to stay at Tudabujja, Retrak’s Halfway Home and Farm on the outskirts of Kampala. Social workers have contacted Nyombi’s uncle, and an aunt, but neither is interested in taking him in. Our staff continue to search for family that will welcome Nyombi to their home. In the meantime, Nyombi is thriving at Tudabujja and says, “Here at Retrak I have been helped a lot to change and leave all the bad things that I used to do. When I was brought here to Tudabujja, I loved the place and felt very secure.”
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