IT'S TIME TO ACT NOW
It has been so far a year of successes, learning, and challenges. A lot has been achieved so far, and I would like to start by thanking The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) whose hard work and commitment has been 'pillars of strength' and an inspiration to me as am now the 'Voice' for the 'Voiceless' (Paralegal- Makindye Division).
The suffering of abandoned children in Uganda by their mothers or fathers due to family breakups, continues- although there is now hope of settlement as a result of Paralegals ( First Lawyer in the community) put in place, in different areas by UGANET.
''Please Madam are you in, come out we need your help and it's urgent.'' Said an old Woman called Twine aged 57, who knocked at my door at an early morning of the 11th/ 02/ 11. Coming out of the house the lady had a scared face and didn't even allow me to say hello. She only busted in to tears and explained why she was at mine.
''Our neighbor who has a new wife with whom they have stayed with for three years,
their two children, and the two other children of the first wife has turned into
a problem, that we can not solve'' Explained the Twine.
After having settled for a while, she explained to me of aman who mistreats his two kids, a boy of 10yrs and a girl of 12yrs whose mother left four years back and went to Gulu her mother land. This man is a civil worker who works with military.
In case of any mistake, he Cains his kids unnecessary, (The girl's hand was found broken), gives the unnecessary punishments, ( a week with out food) and many others. These kids realized that the home was turning to be unfriendly to them, so what they were used to do was always to run away from home for a while and spend some nights out. The step mother and the father could not bather looking for these kids not until they bring them selves back home.
The lady went on to explain to me; ''When we try to talk with him, he brings out a pistol and scare us that he will kill us
if we don't go off his family issues. When we tried to talk with the wife, she just
ignored us. We tried the police, the first time it came he challenged it and
even failed to do it's job. When we so that it was too much, we went
back to police, this time it didn't bather to reach the place.
We are fed up, we can't help the kids because he warned
us and promised to kill the one who will do so. Yet we are
parents, we can't just let this happen''. She said all this after I had asked her what they did as neighbors after having seen all this happen. After that I asked her whether the couple is at home so that I can go and meet them.''Yes they are'', replied Twine. she added on and explained saying that even that day the two kids had spent two days not home. They had the girl hid in their house, but didn't want the father to know that it's them with her. She said they didn't know where the boy could be.On my way to the parents' home the lady warned me;
''Please you are going, but be very careful, that man might kill you.
Because for him, he only wishes death for those kids. so any
one who comes in to their rescue is bad. And please x3 I beg
of you, don't tell that it's the neighbor who brought this case
to you, because when you do so, I am done.''
Though the woman explained how tough the man was, I said as a paralegal, I could not sit when this is taking place in my community. I said to my self that if it's to die, I will die so long as am saving the innocent blood, and will die as a hero. I went along with my Paralegal Identity Card.
Reaching home I met the man out side his compound, after greeting him I introduced my self to him. There by then he said he is not interested in talking to people of my category. He left and I remained alone in the compound. Later alone the wife came and talked with me, at a certain stage after the wife realizing that I was turning to be serious, she called the man and asked him to pay attention to me.
When he came back I explained to him the authorities I have and what I can do if they just take me for granted. Explained how many cases he had if he was taken to court, the rights of his children he was violating, and after that statement the man apologized and asked me that we should talk in peace.
He didn't deny all what the Twine had explained to me , but he also blamed his kids to be big headed not respecting the step mother and said that him self he has a lot of anger where by can do any thing at any time. After a two hours talk I asked him that we should look for these kids wherever they were and bring them back home. I asked him, if you found out that one of the neighbors had them, would that bather you? He said it would before, but after my talk, he has no problem.
I went to the neighbors, talked to the girl and asked her why she behaves the way the father had explained. she denied every thing, but only said that the father and the step mother are too harsh and said she no longer wants to stay with them. I asked her, if the father changed his ways would you stay?, the girl insisted that she wants to go to her real mum who stays in Gulu.
I continued and looked for the boy not until I found him sleeping in the bush near the stream, woke him up and interviewed him. He still said the same thing as the sister, '' Father is too hush, you do some thing small, he Cains you to death. For me am scared of him. I even hate seeing him spend a day at home.'' Explains the little boy.
I still asked him the same question, If father changed his ways, would you stay with him? He said yes.
I took the two kids to the father and asked the step mother to come along. I explained to them the complaints of these two kids and their decisions.Father was then bitter than even before, He said where they want to go they have no access to school and they are to live a very poor standard of living. S o he sweared Unto me and said, once these kids are off his sight, he will no longer count them as his kids not until his death. And still said that his word is final.
He said he is giving them only one week to be patient with him as he looks for money to transport them to Gulu and then deletes them for good in his life. He still said, even if they come back one day to him, he will never welcome them, but only to send then away with a gun. After all his promises, I pleaded to him to forgive the two kids, because they are young, and perhaps don't know what they are doing.
With in that one week, talking to the kids on how to change on their ways and behaviors, as I plead with the father not take them to Gulu where they have no future, as I counsel the step mother on how to handle these kids and the neighbors how they should keep distance and where their relation ship should end. Indeed it was hard work.
With all my effort and time, because for the full week I didn't appear at the office. God was good after that week every thing had changed.The man had promised to change his ways and not to take his kids to Gulu, The two kids had totally changed their behaviors, where their step mother and the neighbors were wondering.
Today the family is happy with their four kids, they turned to be my good friends and they always call me in case any thing went wrong. When their neighbors meet me along the way, they thank me for the greet work done because they no longer complain, they had never thought any one would manage that man's family.They had given up and thought may be the girl would be defiled one day, acquire HIV or an Infection and die, both kids to be strangled by wild animals and may be to starve to death because of hunger. The boy may be latter to turn in to a robber and a girl a prostitute. Every one says I made a big impact in my community, because even others fear to make the same mistake they know I can take them to courts of law, and I have saved many lives of children. Indeed I believe that nothing in life is impossible, any one can stand for any thing at any time.