Every day since we moved to Uganda nearly seven years ago, we have come face-to-face with the plight of homeless (“street”) kids in Jinja. It’s a complicated problem to solve because for every kid on the street there seems to be a unique reason they’re on the street.
Some are on the street because they have no other choice. For others, street life is simply a better option. For the most clever “social engineers”, street life can be quite lucrative even though they have many other options at their disposal.
Many organizations exist to address these issues, and we didn’t want to re-invent the wheel or attempt to solve a problem we had no real understanding of, but we knew, deep down, that many of these kids were wickedly smart and we one that technology training could open avenues of possibility for them so we’ve been involved in street kid programs for over five years now, mostly through organizations that brought in street kids for informal education.
In our latest initiative, the staff of the Hackers For Charity Computer Training Center (CTC) in Jinja Uganda sought to bring basic computer training to kids that aren’t connected to any organizations, true “street kids”.
This is dangerous work in the sense that there is no “buffer” between us and the kids. There are no supervisors to step in when discipline issue arise. Without a safety net, we take on a certain level of risk but we’re also able to work directly with kids that have fallen through the cracks, those with the greatest needs.
Through several installments, I’d like to introduce you to some of the kids we are working with to give you a glimpse of what life is like for these kids and share some some of their challenges and dreams with you.
The following report was written by the staff at the HFC Jinja CTC, about a young man by the name of “Matovu Sulai”:
At only his age of 12 years, Sulai left his peasant parents home in Kagulumira, Kayunga
district to Jinja town. Sulai Attended School at R.C primary school and dropped out from school in primary 4 because of school fees.
Sulai says that he was influenced by his friend Alex who was not going to school to move in town and start bagging for money on the street, collecting scraps from dust bins and looking for left over thrown food in dust bins in town for survival.