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From Lacekocot to Gulu’s Streets: The Resilience of Rubangakene Isaac

Born and raised in Lacekocot, Pader District, Northern Uganda, Rubangakene Isaac, a 20-year-old youth navigates the streets of Gulu City, grappling with hunger, adorned in meager clothing, and burdened by loneliness. Orphaned in his childhood, Isaac faced abandonment by both parents, and subsequently entrusted to his paternal grandmother, and later his uncle after her passing.

 

Challenges mounted during his stay with his mentally unstable uncle, prompting Isaac to leave his home for Gulu City at the age of 10, seeking refuge from discrimination and abuse. Feeling neglected and overworked, he endured verbal abuses, denial of basic needs, and even threats, pushing him to the streets in pursuit of self-sufficiency.

 

In Gulu, Isaac sustained himself by collecting and selling plastic bottles and metallic scraps. His path intersected with Hashtag Gulu, recruiting street-related youth. Initially part of a group slated for reintegration in 2018, plans were disrupted by the untimely death of one of the co-founders, leading Isaac to believe the organization had closed.

 

Returning home for a year in hopes of improved conditions, Isaac encountered a worsening situation, culminating in a traumatic incident. Hit and run over by his uncle’s motorcycle during an evening walk, Isaac, unable to afford prescribed medicines, sought refuge in Gulu, presenting a serious leg injury. Unable to sustain himself, he turned to begging on the streets for survival.

 

Discovering Hashtag Gulu’s continued operation in December 2023, Isaac approached the organization for assistance, seeking family contact and potential reunion with any willing relative from the maternal side of the family. Mediation with his maternal aunt in Paicho is underway, and his ongoing treatment, vitalized by the Health Project, aims for resolution by January 2024. Success in this process holds the promise of psychosocial support and guidance through the resettlement journey.

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