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Struggles and Aspirations: A Tale of Resilience Amid Stigma

While at my aunt’s place, I faced challenges with how other family members treated me. While I had friends to play with, I felt burdened by the expectations placed upon me by my aunt’s daughter-in-law. She demanded that I fulfil tasks without question, warning that failure to comply would result in expulsion back to the streets or physical punishment. Despite providing me with food, meals were often limited to once a day. My interactions with Obali, another resident, were strained as he displayed laziness during our shared activities. Despite my efforts, I received an unequal share of the workload without assistance. Feeling powerless in this environment, I refrained from voicing my concerns. Additionally, another resident you encountered during your visit adamantly opposed my presence in their home. He expressed disdain for supporting a child whose mother was perceived as neglectful. He insisted that I be returned to my mother and suggested contacting your office to facilitate this.

 

The hostility extended beyond the household, with neighbouring children actively seeking conflict with me. Despite my attempts to avoid confrontation, accusations of theft were levied against me, resulting in alienation and ridicule from my peers. A violent altercation further aggravated tensions, prompting me to flee into the maize plantation to escape retaliation. Feeling unwelcome and unsafe, I sought refuge at Min Ocii’s home, where I spent the night before continuing my journey. Even without conflict, I harboured no desire to remain in that environment long-term. The prospect of attending boarding school offered a glimmer of hope amidst the adversity I faced. Despite the challenges, I remain determined to pursue my education to improve my circumstances. My mother’s inability to finance my schooling prompted her to arrange for me to reside with my uncle in Coo-rom, where I could study and return to town during holidays. I am eager to embrace this opportunity for a better future and would appreciate Hashtag Gulu’s support in facilitating my return to school.

 

Navigating Complexities: Extending Hospitality to Kato – A Guardian’s Account

I wholeheartedly welcomed Kato into my home, extending an invitation for him to stay as long as he wished. My intentions were purely humane, with no ulterior motive involving your office. I previously cared for his mother, who resided in my household after her initial marriage ended. Despite the complexities of her situation, I supported her, remarried her to her second husband, and even facilitated the return of her dowry to her first husband. When Kato’s mother returned to my home, I willingly embraced her son into our family. However, external pressures became overwhelming. My co-wife, along with my brother-in-law’s wife and their family, harboured animosity towards Kato. They urged me to send him away, insinuating that my motives were financially driven, speculating that assistance from your organization was a motivating factor. This jealousy and gossip strained relationships within my household. Even my husband, initially supportive, succumbed to pressure, expressing reluctance to raise another man’s son while his mother roamed the town. Ultimately, it was our nephew who persuaded him to retain Kato, emphasizing the moral obligation to provide sanctuary and support.

 

Kato integrated well into our family dynamics. He worked alongside my son, Obali, engaging in various activities, including farming. Contrary to the negative perceptions propagated by neighbours, Kato demonstrated no problematic behaviour. His demeanour was unassuming, and he rarely engaged in conflict, often becoming the target of others’ aggression. Despite our efforts to foster a nurturing environment, a violent altercation led Kato to flee our home. Upon learning of Kato’s disappearance, I embarked on a frantic search, fearing the worst. The emotional turmoil was unbearable, compounded by concerns about how to convey the situation to his family. Ultimately, Kato’s safe return prompted me to reassess the situation. I believe it’s best for Kato to return to his mother, so that his well-being and future prospects can be adequately addressed.

 

Moving forward, I propose discussing Kato’s future residence with my sister, prioritizing his safety and well-being. It’s imperative that any decision regarding Kato’s living arrangements be made in collaboration with his mother and with the consent of my husband. My primary concern is fostering peace within my household, ensuring that Kato’s presence is welcomed under mutually agreeable terms.

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