PUBLISHED — 9th, July 2024

David, a 13-year-old boy, is a student at Lodoi Primary School in Napak district, but his journey to get here has been anything but ordinary.

Just a few months ago, David (not real name) and many others were rescued from the harsh streets of Kampala by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and taken to Napak District where they were rehabilitated into schools. Napak is located about 417 km north east of Kampala in the Karamoja region.

For David, the streets of Kampala were a daily struggle for survival. His memories of this time are filled with peril and loss, including the tragic death of a close friend who was hit by a car while trying to cross the road.

At Lodoi, David and his street connected friends have found a safe haven. The school provides children with food and shelter free of charge, offering a sense of security and stability they never had on the streets. Here, they can focus on education and recovery in the simple joys of childhood.

Recently, a team from KCCA visited Napak district to assess the well-being of children rescued in January and June of this year. The representatives were met with jubilation by the children, who are now thriving in three schools: Lotome Girls School, LokoLokodoi, and Lodoi primry school, while some were reunited with their families.

Lotome Girls School, which received 201 girls; LokoLokodoi, which received 107 children; and Lodoi, which received 117 children.

The head teachers were grateful to the KCCA and government for bringing the children back home and emphasized creating a safe and nurturing environment.

 “We are happy we were chosen to house these children. They were hostile at first and refused to eat food but now they have adapted. They had health issues, but the district sent a team to screen and treat them, creating a safe and nurturing environment.” said, Margaret Abura, the head teacher of Lotome Primary School.

Several other children rescued from the streets, were taken to Koblin Youth Center for skilling and rehabilitation before being reunited with their families.

“The success stories extend beyond comfortable housing, tracing the children's families, reunifications, Social workers playing a crucial role of ensuring a holistic approach to rehabilitation, Health screenings by the district's health departments further safeguard the children's well-being.” says The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Mr. Denis Okori informed the team during a visit to one of the schools.

KCCA child rescue missions are guided by the Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022. The ordinance empowers KCCA to rescue and rehabilitate children found loitering, begging, vending, or hawking on the streets.

It further emphasizes parental responsibility, holding guardians or parents liable if their children are caught in such activities. The authority's commitment to this cause is evident by the successful prosecution of over 35 adults under the ordinance.

The KCCA's Deputy Director of Gender Community Services and Production, Mr. Daniel Kaseregenyi during the stakeholder meeting at the Napak district headquarters hailed the crucial shift in Napak's leadership, contrasting it with past instances where rescued children would again return to the streets after being rescued.

Mr. Kaseregenyi thanked the region’s parliamentary leaders, the RDC, and other stakeholders involved for their efforts in ensuring the wellbeing of the rescued children, ``There is no justification to let these children be trafficked, we are happy the narrative is changing. Let us agree and understand our specific roles in child protection and take charge of our responsibilities” Kaseregenyi urged stakeholders.

He emphasized the gravity of the situation on Kampala's streets, highlighting dangers like sex exploitation, accidents, and dehumanizing conditions.

This call to action resonated with the region's Members of Parliament Hon. John Bosco Ngoya the MP of Bokora County, who commended the government for taking on a parental role these children desperately needed.

This initiative is not a solitary endeavor. Dwelling Places, which has been operating in the region since 2002, collaborates with Matani Hospital to provide medical care for the children.

Mrs. Maureen Muwonge, the Dwelling Places Country director, underscored the collaborative effort to combat child trafficking and exploitation.

“When you enroll a child in school you reduce chances of them going back to the streets by 95%,” Maureen informed stakeholders.

This multi-pronged approach includes education, empowering families with income-generating activities, and promoting positive parenting practices to prevent future exploitation with partners like Koinonia Ministries, and Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans among others.

Hope's Cry International, another key partner, offers a unique shelter experience. Here, the children are enrolled in skills training programs like tailoring and craftwork but also receive valuable life lessons.

Stella, the shelter manager, explained how they instill "community traits like forgiveness and communication," along with teaching the importance of work ethic through a weekly allowance system.  This comprehensive approach fosters not just rehabilitation, but personal growth.

Hon. Peter Ken Lochap MP Bokora East, also empasized the importance of continued partnerships to ensure the children's safety and well-being, pledging his unwavering support in keeping Kampala's streets free from vulnerable children.

Development partners