Children
 Uganda
Project #2202

Rebuilding the lives of street children in Uganda

by Retrak America
Vetted
Maggie speaks up for street children
Maggie speaks up for street children

Four Retrak children recently had the honor of participating in a National Conference on Children's Rights in Uganda.

One hundred children from all four provinces were invited to help assess the progress made in the realization of the rights of children under the four pillars of Survival, Development, Protection and Participation. The children advocated for the state to prioritize child protection from sexual violence, child labor, and violence at home and at school.  

The children spoke for the estimated 10,000 children who live and work on the streets of the capital, Kampala, and the almost 400,000 children living as refugees in Uganda due to conflicts. The children also called for the state to strengthen community structures to support the rural children who experience very limited social protection services.

The four children from Retrak were excited to participate in the conference and to raise the issues faced by street children in particular. Maggie, 15, nominated herself for election as Speaker to deliver the children’s paper to the Minister. Although she was not elected, her courage speaks of how Retrak is rebuilding self-esteem and empowering children. Maggie did get the opportunity to speak to the press about the conference. Ann also contributed by asking the Minister “How much is the government doing to protect children living and working on the streets of Uganda?”

At the national celebrations, Retrak had the opportunity to run a stall and talk to people about what we do. Members of parliament and ministry officials were among the people that visited Retrak's stall.

Retrak strives to give street children a voice. This conference enabled street children to be heard on a national level and we were thrilled to be able to participate. Thank you for your support which allows us to do our work on behalf of these children.

100 children were invited to attend
100 children were invited to attend
Retrak
Retrak's stall at the conference
Ann asks a question
Ann asks a question

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Nyombi went to the streets when he was only 10
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.”

We can't do the work we do without donations like yours. Thank you for your past support. Please make another donation today to allow us to continue our vital work with some of the most vulnerable children on Earth.

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At this time of year, getting through the daily struggle for survival and feeling of isolation becomes even tougher for children living on the streets. While the festive season for many of us is a special time to be shared at home with our loved ones, for homeless children, it is a reminder of two of the greatest gaps missing in their lives – home and family.

Fortunately Retrak is present on the streets of Kampala, providing homeless children with their basic needs and helping them return to a loving family.

One mother said this when she came to pick up her daughter from our center:

"This is a great miracle!! Four years minus seeing my daughter, I did not know that I could get her alive, I thought we were to meet in heaven; thanks be to Retrak. May God bless you with abundant resources to save more lives."

Thank you for your past support of Retrak's project in Uganda. We hope that you'll decide to support us again with an end-of-year donation - a donation that will help a homeless child receive safe shelter, nourishing food, medical attention and care and support. In many cases it will return a street child to a loving family home. Please help us return more children home in 2016.

 

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Retrak supports children outside of family care
Retrak supports children outside of family care

Last October, twenty eight Retrak children and two adults were hit by a speeding car while on their way to play soccer. Ten of the children were seriously injured, four of them critically. Six weeks on, we're pleased to report that all the children have now been discharged from the hospital and are back at our center recovering.

Eight of the children have ongoing appointments with doctors to review their progress and we are pleased to report that seven of them are progressing well.

One child, 8, who sustained a head injury, is making slow but positive progress and may well need further surgery.

The most seriously injured is a 7 year old boy whose leg could not be saved and was amputated above the knee. He was the last to leave the hospital and is now receiving care and support from our staff, and his friends, at our center.

The Retrak Uganda staff have worked tirelessly to care for all of the children involved in the incident, and have been an incredible support throughout challenging circumstances. To help both our young people and staff overcome psychological trauma from the accident, a psychologist is conducting individual sessions with everyone affected and is developing a long-term recovery plans for each individual.

The young boy who lost his leg will be fitted with a prosthetic limb – an incredibly rare occurrence for a homeless child – and we are so very grateful to everyone who helped give him the best possible start to his recovery. He said: “I thank God for sparing my life because I am still alive and everyone who has endeavoured to help me to cope with the situation”.

Another boy who was injured says: “I thought my life was not going to come back to normal, when I recall the time seeing myself in a pool of blood laying on the ground helplessly. But I thank God for the support, time, love and care that the organization showed us, and doctors running up and down trying to save our lives. It put a smile on my face.”

It is only through the generosity of supporters like you that Retrak is able to care for these children, pay their medical bills and hire a psychologist to deal with the ongoing effects of this trauma. This #GivingTuesday, please make a donation to Retrak as we continue to provide long-term medical and psychological support to these homeless children. 

Thank you.

 

Mutubazi receives the 2015 Fergus Moran Award
Mutubazi receives the 2015 Fergus Moran Award

The Fergus Moran Award is the honor given by Retrak to a former street child. It was created to remember 12-year-old Fergus, an avid supporter of our charity, who died after contracting a lung infection in November 2008. Fergus came to know Retrak following a TV documentary on street children, and since his tragic death, Fergus’ family has continued fundraising for our organization in his name.

Recently seven senior staff members met to consider the 2015 recipient. After much discussion about the positive attributes upheld by the children currently attending the three Kampala drop-in centers, staff finally agreed it had to be 12-year-old Mutubazi.

Mutubazi’s story:

Mutubazi was living with his father and stepmother at the time he left home. This was after the separation of the parents when he was young due to domestic violence. Sadly, though his father remarried, the torture and mistreatment from the current stepmother made him feel insecure and afraid and not able to do his schooling, so he felt forced to run away from home. He struggled and suffered on the street in Jinja and, influenced by other street children, decided to walk to Kampala.

While on the street, Mutubazi engaged in difficult behaviors including fighting, sniffing aviation fuel and pick-pocketing. He survived by scavenging and feeding from the bins of busy restaurants in Kampala. His street life was made even tougher after he engaged in a fight with a peer that left his eye damaged. It was at this time that he was brought to Retrak’s Clubhouse for medical support.

A new start:

Since he joined the Retrak program three months ago, Mutubazi has stood out as a smart, kind-hearted, hard-working and an open-minded child. He is also very social with other children and the staff.  At little shy at first, Mutubazi now fully participates in catch-up classes since he is so interested in learning.  

He says at first he struggled with facing up to his challenges at home.  The social workers are counseling his father and stepmother to ensure a safe environment and confirm that Mutubazi can really return to school in his village. Now he's preparing himself to go back home and take on his educational dream. Mutubazi sits on the Children's Council leadership team and also was elected a class monitor in the catch-up class.

Drop-in Center manager Prossie said: “It is not surprising that Mutubazi was chosen for this award. He is a great role model for the other children.”

Mutubazi is a shining example of what a street child can achieve when he or she is given caring support. Thanks to donors like you, Retrak can continue supporting children like Mutubazi and offer them a brighter future.

 

 

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Organization Information

Retrak America

Location: Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.retrak.org
Project Leader:
Joan Townsend
US Country Director
Washington, DC United States

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