250 million children are forced to work worldwide, some as slaves and some to support families.
Most kids are given too much work compared to the wages they receive i.e. carry heavy bags, washing toilets, clothes, cleaning compounds, cleaning dustbins, digging a very large piece of land, yet they are paid too little because they don’t have anyone to stand up for them. If they insist on asking for enough wages for their work, they are always chased away—with either beatings or other abuses.
They are always seen as the most disadvantaged people in the society, thus they don’t have freedom like other kids and equal rights. At various times the government removes them from the streets and they are taken to a place where young prisoners or criminals are kept. They are treated like criminals though they are not. If one of them commits a simple understandable crime like urinating in street corridors or by accident they step on someone, they are always beaten, made to carry heavy boxes, pushing heavy loads with wheel barrows—which is child abuse and injustice. These child-orphans are forced through circumstances to live on the streets in exploitative conditions of labor.
Hi mom,My name is Epaja Jeremiah Derrick, Im a Muteso from Sorori district. My father and mother were killed on the same day by LRA rebels. My brother Speter whom I thought had also been killed, was kidnapped by them. The time the LRA rebels attacked and killed my parents, I was at the center. When I came back home, I found both my father and mother lying dead on the ground, our house was burnt, crops destroyed and goat also killed and eaten by the LRA.
It broke my heart so much that I lost my senses, because in life I had never expected that to have happened to us. I cried, cried and cried but there was nothing I could do. I started running up and down confused and senseless ,
When I got back to my right mind, I was in Lira town in a dustbin. Sincerely I don’t know how I reached Lira from Soroti. To me the killings were the end of the road and life too. I felt like committing suicide but I feared to go to Hell. Life became so hard on my side because in Lira I didn’t know anyone not even their language. Life was horrible. I had to start street life. Before I had never ever thought I would sleep on streets for even just one day but I had to start living there.
For the first four days on Lira streets, I did not bathe, eat, or sleep. Life was upside down on my side. No one was willing to give me food no matter how hard I tried to beg they didn’t want to even talk to me. I was seen as a snake living with human beings so every one hated and could beat me at any time they wanted. None stood by my side.
No day passed by without me either being beaten or abused publically by well-off people, I came to realize that they hated street kids so much that is why they could beat us so much and abuse us.
Hours passed by, days, weeks, month and years too when I was experiencing these things. STREET KIDS ARE HATED SO MUCH IN THE SOCIETY. When I could fall sick, all I could wish was to die, because no treatment, no food, not even someone to take care of me.
One day two rich men came in a car by around 9 pm where we sleep. They were so nice to us so we didn’t know that they had bad intentions. They told us that they wanted about 10 boys to go and help them do some work for about 4 months and promised to pay us 50,000 at the end of the work. They said they were going to be providing us with break, lunch and supper too. We had spent days without eating so when we heard of that, we were so happy because we were so desperately in need of food, because of starving. So I too desperately went with them. There were ten of us of between 10 and15 years.
They were building house so our work was to mix cement and sand then take to them, then take bricks, water etc, It was a very, very unhappy work for us but we had no choice than to endure. We could work Monday to Monday starting from 7am till around 10pm. They even had a generator for light at night.
They had promised to be giving us break, lunch, supper too but they refused. When we reached there they told us that we were only to eat once in a day that is lunch time moreover it was eating their leftovers ! It was so painful, but we could not go back because they threatened to beat us seriously if one escapes. During the time of work, if you delay to do any work, they would beat us seriously like slaves.
When we finished the work, we asked for our salary so that we may go home, but they REFUSED to give us the money and told us that we are street kids meant to help people for free, after saying that they were going to pay us. We then refused to leave and told them that we’re not going to leave without our money.
They started torturing us until we cried but no one came to help us. After that, they went and brought policemen, saying that we are thieves and that we had stolen their generator plus 200,000 shillings……We were surprised . We tried to explain to the policemen, but they would not listen to us…we were now thieves. We were arrested innocently and taken to police station.
On the third day that is when Speter came to Lira. He had come to mobilize the street kids, so he had gone to get permission from the police to carry out his work, and that is when he saw me. We were all surprised, because he thought I had died and I too thought he was dead, and he thought I was a ghost and so did I. He ran to me, hugged me then he told me that HE was sorry for everything and we all started crying,.
Epaja Jeremiah Derrick