Becky being reunited with her family
Retrak continues to offer vital support to children who are living on the street in Kampala. On the street children face significant dangers such as exploitation and abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact our work at the beginning of 2022 with outbreaks across all four lighthouses. In January this had some impact on the number of children we were able to reintegrate (21) and only seven new children were served in our Lighthouse. However, by February the situation had improved, and we were able to support 60 new children and reintegrate 25 into family based care. This means that from November 2021 to February 2022 we have been able to welcome 249 new intakes into our lighthouses.
To address some of the negative impacts of COVID-19, our community work with Self Help Groups has been able to engage an organisation that supported child mothers who are unable to return to formal education post-Covid through community based skills training. So far, 10 girls in their community have been enrolled. Such initiatives are a fantastic way to provide stability and support to young mothers so that they can give their children the best chance.
The story below shows how we have been able to reintegrate families, after so many years of separation, and how much this means to them:
14-year-old girl reunited with family after 12 years
Thanks to Retrak, Becky* is now happily living with her aunt and cousins, who had been looking for Becky since her mother died when she was just two.
Becky told us: “I am so grateful for what Retrak has done for me while staying at the Lighthouse. I want to work so hard in school, succeed and make them proud. I will forever be grateful for the love and care they have given me.”
After Becky’s mother died, her aunt and cousins on her mother’s side searched for Becky, but with no contact details for her father, they lost hope. Meanwhile, Becky’s alcoholic father allegedly sexually abused his daughter.
Eventually the father was arrested, and Becky was taken in by a children’s home, where she lived for around ten years. When Covid-19 hit Uganda, most of the children were returned to their biological families. The police brought Becky to one of Retrak's Lighthouses.
Becky showed signs of depression when she first arrived. Our team introduced her to cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as group counselling. Gradually, Becky began to recover, and rediscover her confidence.
Over the next two months, Becky enjoyed a host of different activities at the Lighthouse, including lessons, sports, crafts, and life skills sessions. She began to think further about her future after participating in business skills training.
Meanwhile, our team searched for Becky’s family, through their local network. They discovered that Becky’s aunt had always wanted Becky to live with her. We were then able to reunite a delighted Becky with her aunt, and her cousins.
Becky’s aunt said: ‘‘Thank you very much for taking care of Becky, I thought that I would never see her again.”
Becky is now at school, and dreams of becoming a doctor. We continue to support her, to ensure she settles well in her new family, and are also supporting with school fees
*Name has been changed to protect survivor’s identity