Did you know that every night on the streets of Kampala a girl is raped? Of course since they are street children who ran away from home dreaming about the bright lights of Kampala and expecting paved streets away from the poverty in their villages, few people care about their well being. The biggest number of street kids in Kampala are usually from the drought stricken areas of Uganda like Karamoja, they run here hoping to find something better than fighting for food with siblings but end up doing the same thing here. Begging on the streets to survive, pick pocketing and doing odd jobs all over the lower part of town just to survive, the strangest bit of it is they would never consider going back home.
This story is about Nena, she is the usual street girl and for once I decided that I needed to find out why these girls are always carrying babies that do not belong to them to get sympathy from people for money. I found Nena standing at the Shoprite near the clock tower holding a malnourished baby, the baby was whimpering and seemed to be in discomfort as Nena tried to dose off. She turned and said the usual “Aunt mpayo ekikumi ngule emeere…” I looked at her curiously and asked why she hasn’t looked for job instead of asking for handouts, a flash of anger in her eyes and she just acted like I was not there, she stood carried her baby and walked away. I followed her, this girl did not look like she was even eighteen. She looked different from the usual street girls, a little clean and her baby was not naked. She walked towards the old taxi park weaving through taxis and people with her baby, who now was bawling the hell out loudly. The taxi touts and conductors heckled her, but she walked towards the makeshifts restaurants.
I found her washing plates in one of the hidden restaurants in the park, she looked at me with so much rage. I asked the owner if i could talk to her and she said as long as Nena finished washing the plates, its OK. The child was now seated on the floor eating what looked like leftovers. Nena is Seventeen years to be precise, she came to Kampala last year thinking she could find something better to do, she sat for her PLE in Moroto some years back and she had come to look for a job. Her first night here was scary, when the bus reached the park, she was blown away by Kampala. The buildings were big and so many cars, it was close to 11PM and she did not where to start from. She walked to a police station and asked if she could sleep there, they were locking up so he sent her off. She ended up sleeping on the stairs of a shop, in the wee hours of the morning, she felt a hand touching her. She woke up startled and came to face with two men leering down at her.
They raped her, one after the other as they held her down. They did this in turn until they were both tired then left her there lying in a pool of blood with clothes torn to shreds, they stole her handbag that had the only money she had saved and all her documents that were going to help better her life in Kampala. When she woke up, two ladies were hovering over her with sympathetic tones, she did not understand Luganda but knew they were trying to help her. They took her to one of those public toilets and washed her up, she wished she could understand what they were saying but just kept crying. She wanted to go back home and asked a lady in Kiswahili where she could get some money to go back to Karamoja, she offered her job to clean in her shop for a week and then save enough to go back home. A few weeks later she found out she was pregnant, here she was stranded in a city with no one and a child on the way. She decided to do odd jobs till she could afford a better life for her child, but they could barely survive on the wages she made. Her baby is seven months old right now but looks like he is three months, she has tried all her best but feels like its worse off. I did not know what to do to help her as she asked me to find her a job as a maid. I gave her the 10,000/- I had and walked away thanking her for the time. She cried, I walked away because I am a crier and my tears were on the verge of showing up.
Every day, a girl on the streets of Kampala is raped and the biggest numbers ends up in pregnancy even worse, death. Who protects daughters with no Parents? Who makes sure that these little ones looking for a better life will be safe? Who sits back and wonders what happens to them in those long cold nights? As a society it is our job to protect them. Do you care?