Abused and neglected, Victo strives to become a teacher.
She silently collects the dishes without speaking a word. Later, she asks her grandmother where the soap is. When she gets it, she walks slowly and sits on a short round stool in the wet dirty mud. There, behind their unfinished house, Victo starts her daily chores of washing the family dishes.
Before she is done, she rushes to the kitchen, a mud and iron sheets structure adjacent to their main house. She checks on the yellowish porridge simmering on a 3 stone tripod stove. Using firewood, the stove is polluting the whole kitchen as a thick smoke escapes through the door frame. But, that is none of her business.
“Don’t bring the very young ones. Get the ones that look a bit mature,” she instructs her young cousin collecting mangoes which they will have as an accompaniment with the porridge for breakfast.
In the background, an advert, Yamba Mwino Akyese (help your colleague to pass through the night) is playing from Radio Baaba FM. It relates to the increasing famine and food insecurity many poor households in Busoga Region are experiencing.
Like all families taking care of OVC under our sponsorship program, Victo’s family is facing a food insecurity problem.
“We don’t have enough food. We only eat two meals a day. Sometimes, when there is no money, we get food on credit. Later, we pay up when we get the money.” Kagoya Ruth, Victo’s grandmother says.
“I want to be a teacher. I admire teachers because they give knowledge and get a lot of money”, Victo, the 12 year old replies when asked about her future career.
“I don’t know where my mother stays. I don’t remember ever seeing my father”, she replies when asked about her parents.
In her S.3, Victo’s mother, dropped out of school and eloped with her boyfriend when she got pregnant for Victo.
“I did not know where she went. She did not want to see or hear from me. We searched for her everywhere and even put radio adverts. But, all was in vain. Then later, I heard that she had produced a baby girl and was staying in Kiyindi, Mukono district. That was in 2005”, Ruth says about her daughter.
“After 1 and half years, she produced another child. Then, at 2 years, she abandoned Victo in an orphanage in Jinja, gave them my phone number and remarried.
Later, the administrators of the orphanage called me and brought Victo here. She was so malnourished and pale. So, I stayed with her for some while, before her mother took her away from me.
When she faced severe abuse and neglect from her, she ran away from their home in Mukono and came back here. She knew that I stay in Namulesa, so she told the taxi conductor that she was going back to her grandmother’s place in Jinja.”
Her eyes become red as tears welled up. It is evident that this is a very painful subject for her to speak about.
“She does not like her mother at all. She refused to go back. She abused her a lot. If she ever visited us here, I know Victo will run away from home again. And that is something I don’t want to happen.”
Speaking with her, one cannot easily tell that, Kirabo Victo, a bright Primary Five student has experienced severe abuse in her life; until they ask her about her mother. She keeps quiet and suddenly withdraws.
“Without CCUg support, I don’t know whether she would have been able to finish this term. It is a huge burden you offloaded from us. I know her future is now bright,” Ruth says.
Ruth is a small scale farmer who earns less than $27 a month. She takes care of 9 children, 4 in primary school, 2 in secondary while the other 3 children don’t study because she cannot afford their education.
Like all OVC caregivers under CCUg sponsorship, Ruth is part of the adult literacy class in Mauta Village, Namulese, Mafubira Sub County, Jinja district.
Her home is where the training is conducted on a weekly basis. Later this month, a saving group will be formed to increase access to credit to OVC caregivers and other women in Namulesa.
CCUg will incorporate it into its Group Saving Program (GSP) comprised of more than 150 women spread across 4 villages in Jinja and Mayuge district.