The Alongside Africa Uganda team were required to step in to prevent a tragedy yesterday and did so, with the help of a partner organisation, in fine style.
Last week I found three brothers, dirty, disheveled and dressed in rags collecting rubbish on the streets of Kabale. I led them to the Amasiko Drop-In Centre and handed them over to the care of Peace, the centre manager. Peace immediately took matters in hand and helped them to get clean, providing them with new clothes and much needed tender loving care. As they settled into the centre over the next couple of days, supported by Ellese and Judith (volunteer and intern), Peace was able to ascertain some of their history.
The three brothers, aged roughly 12, 10 and 6, lived with their destitute father who was unable to provide for them or send them to school. It soon became apparent that the situation was more urgent than we had first thought as we found scars on the bodies of the children and they came to the centre with fresh wounds each day after being beaten nightly by the father.
Following a discussion with the local Child Protection Officer we undertook a visit to the home of the brothers on Friday. We found that the father was mentally unstable, reportedly due to a life of drug abuse, and the neighbours confirmed the daily severe beatings of the children. Clearly the brothers were at serious risk. I had a further meeting with the Child Protection Officer in the afternoon, who was as concerned as we were, but who had no available resources to help protect the children.
On Saturday morning, praying and hoping that the children had all survived the night, the AAU team had convened an urgent management meeting with the aim of getting the children to a place of safety. We knew of a centre in town, the Shepherd’s Centre, that took in young male street children so we phoned the manager, Patrick, and arranged to meet. Patrick was very willing to help and he had one spare room available, but no beds, but this was a restriction we could overcome. Splitting forces two of our team went shopping for a bunk bed, mattresses and other supplies whilst I traveled with Peace and Ellese to find the children and buy clothing and shoes.
We found the youngest of the brothers at the father’s house but the middle brother had left for town early in the morning and the eldest had not slept at home the night before because of fear of the father. We spent a couple of hours searching all over town looking for the two brothers, but they eventually arrived of their own accord at the Amasiko centre. Ellese and Peace took them shopping for clothes, shoes and sandals, then George was eventually able to deliver them to the Shepherds Centre around 5pm.
It was a very long, stressful and tiring day for everyone concerned, but thanks to a dedicated team and the ability of partners to work together the three brothers are now safe.
If you are able to help us by supporting the Amasiko Street Children programme please click here – a regular donation of just £2 a week (or more) will help Amasiko become sustainable and help us to bring more children like these to safety.