Shattered Dreams: A tale of resilience and redemption.

Street life is a potentially challenging one, especially for the girl child. Initially, it may be a last resort, the best option at the decisive moment and seems to overflow with a series of opportunities.  For a teenage orphan girl like Aciro Jackline (Not her real name), it glittered and stole her heart. While she lived with her aunt at Layibi in Gulu City, she yearned for the freedom and independence the streets seemed to offer and managed to lure her to leave home to get an experience. She felt she had no voice at home and every correction and advice offered ignited in her a rebellious spirit. So, one day after a disagreement with her aunt over an alleged money theft, Daphine ran away from home for the very first time.


She, however, had nowhere to go so she juggled life between relatives for a while. According to her aunt, Jackline’s main reason for failing to settle in one home was because she lacked respect, patience and most importantly, she never took in good faith advice given to her. Once she is advised, she immediately feels attacked and becomes defensive instead of correcting her mistakes. Unfortunately for her, this did not end well. One fateful day as she was on one of her escapades running from her aunt’s home in Palenga back to Koro, she was attacked and gang raped. This left her wounded and broken both physically and psychologically and HIV/AIDs positive. She stayed at the hospital for about a month due to her injuries after which she was taken back home by her aunt. The incident however did not deter her from pining for the streets even more that immediately after she was discharged, she engaged in pure street living without ever going home. According to her, she kept leaving home because she was discriminated against by her aunt’s children who always reminded her that she was not part of their family. So she was eager to discover that sense of belonging in some way on the streets.


She began to wander the streets of Gulu, renting with friends and doing odd jobs to make ends meet. “She began to tell whoever cared to know that she has no living relative and was solely on her own,” said Jackline’s aunt painfully. “This pained us a lot when people who knew she was my niece told me how she was living because I am very much alive, and I have never sent her away from my home.” She added. During this time, she had her first encounter with Hashtag Gulu. She became one of the beneficiaries until she ‘found’ love and thought it would save her from the streets and harsh life. Daphine conceived and was then taken to Barogal, in Omoro District to live at her husband’s home. While there, being young and pregnant, she was harassed and maltreated by the man and his family. She began to sink into depression, thinking of how miserable her life was.


The delivery time came but she had a long labour and she had a stillbirth, lost a lot of blood, and went unconscious for about a week. “At first, she was just silent. She never said a thing to anyone but just looked on bluntly with a dead look in her eyes. She then one day began to cry and this went on for three days consecutively: both day and night.” Daphine’s aunt recounted. It was too much of a painful experience for a young girl like her to experience. Daphine admits to losing her sense of purpose after this. She became so hopeless and felt like her only comfort, which was her child was robbed of her. She began drowning herself in self-pity for how her life turned out. She recovered from her delivery saga but never quite regained the energy and zeal to continue living. Since then, she has been a weak mess of a person: always sickly and too weak to even walk. She tried looking for a job, but all the employers claimed she looked too weak to be hired.


However, she continued on her quest to gain independence. She still left home despite her weakness and stayed with a friend who was renting at Forest Ward, in Laroo, Gulu City. As she could not work for her survival and basic needs, it was a tough journey for her. Sleeping on an empty stomach for several days, very weak and worried, she looks sicklier than ever. Coming to terms with the fact that however much the streets shone of freedom from parental restrictions, it takes from you more than it offers. Hoping to be reunited with her family but too scared to make contact without mediation from trusted sources and afraid of rejection from the family, she once again sought refuge at Hashtag Gulu. The mediation process with the family is going on. Her aunt is very disappointed and bitter but has accepted and welcomed her home. Jackline is now set for counselling, treatment and hopefully, a more inclusive life with her family while easing into positive living.


Disclaimer. The image used is AI generated.

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