By Bayan Nalubwama
According to the situation analysis focusing on cases of child abuse that were reported to African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) between January and December 2019, Child neglect was ranked the highest on the list of the violation of children’s rights While sexual violence emerged second.
Many young people from both well to do and not so well to do families become delinquents because they feel that they they are not attended to by their parents or guardians.
Gloria Mutesi 15, lost truck after her mother and “father” chose to go separate ways.
“Before, I used to go to school and I was in primary six. However, life changed when our parents separated and mum got married again. She left us with father.” Gloria narrates
Gloria says that by the time her mother left their home, she had a one year old little sister who used to cry often and irritated their father
Her father who, she just found out is not her biological father could not do the home providing and the baby sitting at the same time so he tasked her to take the young girl to her mother. He also told Gloria to live with their mother or find life else where as he could not cater for her and the remaining two boys. He chose to raise the boys and let the girls go.
“I took my sister to my mother and she took her to the village the next day. I too could not live with her because she was married so I had to live with my grandmother who lives within the slums.” She continues to narrate
Even though Gloria had her grandmother for a guardian, she lacked a real caretaker and according to her, life seamed like she lived alone. Her granny was mentally disturbed and there was no one to keep a close eye on her a situation that exposed her to bad groups.
At 14 years, She started smoking drugs, drinking and clubbing. One evening while watching a movie in a local cinema hall (kibanda), the young girl stayed up late and could not go back home. Seated next to her was a 16 year old boy who survived on working in his brothers shop. Conversations started between the two, he offered her a place to sleep in exchange for sex, She agreed.
They continued cohabiting until Gloria got pregnant. Young as he was, with little or less to eat, he took over the responsibility. Time became hard during the first total lockdown, they could not afford the single room they were renting. Left with no option, they got a room they shared with over eight other juveniles.
Gloria could sleep under the bed. Her boyfriend was jobless but still, they survived. He now works in a movies library.
With all the life’s burdens and pregnancy, she still abused drugs until when miss Sarah Nabwonso, the Field and Enrollment officer at Guardian Angel Foundation (GAF) noticed and approached her.
“I personally found Gloria sharing a room with her boyfriend and eight others. She used to sleep under the bed with her guy while the rest occupied the remaining space. She would go days minus food yet she was pregnant.” Sarah said.
One of the major goals of Touch The Slum, a community based organization is to stop teenage pregnancy and also give hope to the young girls who are already victims. In this line, Sarah talked to Gloria into quitting drugs and she succeeded. The teen mom was later enrolled in hair dressing, one of the skills the organization equips young people with.
Gloria enrolled in hair dressing in search for a better life. Four months later, the teen mother has learned her lesson and chosen to walk on what she believes is the right path.
“I have learned so many things from here. From all that happened to me, I realized that even friends want to associate with someone well-off and that helped me to evaluate the kind of friends I make. All my friends who did not want to associate with me when the situation was bad now want me back. They tell me I look good yet they used to be distant when I needed them.” She reveals.
As for Marriage, Gloria says her child is enough inspiration for her to succeed in life. She admits that her parents’ situation pushed her into getting a boyfriend but the experience she got there was enough.
“I spent days hungry and slept on an empty stomach so I am not going back to that kind of life. Marriage is not the best option for me now.
We used to always disagree. My boyfriend would leave me on an empty stomach and you would here from friends that he had taken some girl out.All that used to hurt me because I would spend all day hungry without a thing to eat yet I was pregnant.
Even after giving birth, he does not provide any support, he is reluctant and got comfortable because we get everything from Guardian Angel Foundation. I don’t like that kind of person anymore.
I want to work hard and save my money maybe in the near future when the situation is more clear, God will get me a man I will truly deserve. I am a mother now and I want to be the best example for my child.I recently asked my mother about my real dad and she told me never to ask her again. I don’t want my child to get hurt like I have been.” she concludes.
Ronald Eligu, the Managing Director, Touch The Slum (GAF) revealed that Gloria is changed and very hard-working, besides hair dressing, the young mother asks Ronald for his laundry which she cleans and gets paid at the end of the month.
Would you like to support Touch The Slum’s skills projects that are aimed at equiping young girls like Gloria, please message us at firstname.lastname@example.org