Born in 2003 as the first born to her parents, Shamim is one of the children that were formally on the streets due to harsh living conditions. Her father divorced with their mother in 2007 during which period the mother had a long illness and he left for Juba in Southern Sudan and has never returned.
This was the beginning of agony for the family since the mother was ill, lacked food and other basic needs. Shamim and her sister became too vulnerable resulting into joining Mbale streets in search for survival. While on the streets, she met one of her mother’s friends whom she used to work with – selling porridge - before she became sick. This lady took her on and engaged her into distributing porridge to her customers in the morning as well as evenings for which she was paid a meager UShs 100 at the end of the day which was even not worthy an average meal.
Besides the meager earning and involvement into child labor, Shamim at such a childish age – was subjected to torture as she collected the cups from customers through abuse and insults.
As the mother recovered, she resumed her porridge selling business in which Shamim had to be involved still since the mother was still weak and hence still missed the opportunity to attend to school. She continued to sell porridge with her mother in the bus park in Mbale town in addition to fetching water for people operating kiosks within the area.
“I used to carry hot porridge in a jerry can round the lorry park and one time as I was making cup for the customer ,porridge poured onto my leg….haaaaaaa” ,with tears rolling down her eyes, “it was so painful” Shamim painfully narrates.
CRO social workers met Shamim at the Mbale bus park in 2009 while busy selling porridge. At first she feared talking to them but through encouragement, she opened up. She looked thin, weak due to poor feeding and behaved wild as a result of verbal abuse and harsh living conditions. Shamim had wounds and scars all over her skin and looked unhealthy.
She accepted invitation to CRO Mbale center for counseling and medication. Her family was visited and assessed only to discover alarming living conditions liking sleeping badly on a torn mat and covering herself with a thin old fabric that couldn’t keep her warm at night.
Shamin was enrolled into the rehabilitation class for further counseling which she successfully completed and joined Primary education in Primary 3. Her progress has been well and her mother works in peoples’ gardens to get a living after losing all her porridge business capital.
She cheerfully says “At CRO I feel happy and transformed, I enjoy playing handball and singing”. Shamim is a choir member both at her school as well as at CRO. “I am grateful to CRO for what it has done for me and study so hard to become a teacher when I grow up”, Shamim speaks.