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"I have moved a lot in my life, I have walked distances you can't even imagine. Sometimes people get shocked when they meet me again in a different area. And I'm glad they easily recognise me. I feel like God created me just to move about and help people. I have attended so many funerals not because I'm related to the bereaving families but because there's always free food. And I don't just eat their food but also provide labour. I help them with domestic work like collecting firewood, fetching water- People here think am retarded, I here them call me names because I smile a lot and I rarely talk"

(Budadiri, Sironko)


[1/2] After escaping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) from Kenema, Montserrado County a small village in Liberia packed with different traditional beliefs and the respect for observance of norms and other privileges that girls born to inhabitants of that town should do, the cause of life didn’t end but instead began from a different front of abuse. As a little girl growing up, all my parents ever wanted for me was to live in a pastoral home and be grounded with word of God through Christianity. Little did they know that their decision would change the life of their teenage daughter for good and make her a champion despite the weight that the outcome bears. In the Pastoral home, where the minds of Tenneh Parents thought that it would be about the bible teachings and impact, lived a monster who forcefully hacked and violated their little girl and further threatened her never to say it to anyone, else she would die. The only reason for the monster’s action was to quiet down my selfless spirit in engaging elders on how they treat kids at such tender age not knowing society would have been even bigger than what I saw happening. (Liberia)
[2/2] Living with the trauma, fright and fear of not telling someone in the home or even my parents that I was violated even exacerbated anger for revenge one great day of my life when I should have the power he had to overcome me by sexually abusing me. That urge was the self-realizing power to ensure justice for myself and my other friends who also explained similar stories to me when we played together but mine was the death Taboo. Those sober moments enriched my stance for social justice, equality, power sharing, openness, and the respect for human rights. I couldn’t tell my story to all my friends but I then realize that there would be a bigger platform if I chose a career of storytelling to ensure others stories are told to the world even though mine wasn’t told until now. Through the over a decade of storytelling and advocacy around justice for survivors and victims of sexual gender- based violence, exploitation, rape, child marriage and other human rights violations, I still believe that my story is being told through those cases that sometimes find justice in the courtroom and at the community level. However, in the midst of a rapidly evolving digital age, I recognized the potential of new media to amplify my message. With unwavering determination, in 2020 I harnessed the strength of the internet to establish an online TV platform called "Women's TV-Liberia." This ground breaking venture aimed to project the voices of women and marginalized populations who had long been marginalized and neglected by society. Through Women's TV-Liberia, I set out on a mission to uplift and provide voices to women across the country. Traveling to remote villages, urban slums, and everywhere in between, seeking out the stories that needed to be told are some of the best and amplifying moments of my life. With each interview, I’ve provided a platform for women to reclaim their narratives, to shed the cloak of victimhood, and to emerge as survivors, warriors, and agents of change. I understood the depth of pain and suffering that countless women and other marginalized endured, and I remained committed to their cause. I knew that my own healing was intrinsically tied to the healing of others. Through the power of storytelling, I have transformed my personal tragedy into a force for change. My journey, from a shattered childhood to a champion of human rights, demonstrated the indomitable strength of the human spirit and the capacity of one individual to make a difference. With each story I tell and alliance I build, I forge a path toward a more equitable and just society, where the voices of all women and marginalized populations could be heard, cherished, and celebrated. My journey as a human rights defender has not stopped and will not stop. I will continue to champion the rights of the voiceless like my situation, join campaigns, ensure policy change and build alliances for the respect of human rights even if each and every survivor of any and all human rights violations get justice. Additionally, we have been able to unearth some underreported stories from the community level and raise the voices of women to demand change to policy and systems. One key issue we recently unearthed was the alleged murder of the former chief Justice which exacerbated physical and digital security issues for me and the news media. Because in the words of Nelson Mandela, “we are not safe until everyone is safe”, on this foundation my human rights work continues. (Liberia)
[1/4] I was born in the western part of Sudan, in the Darfur region. This region hasn't witnessed peace in the past 30 to 35 years. I was born in conflict, raised in conflict, and even went to school in conflict. Conflict has been the biggest part of my life. It has shaped my life in everything that I do, whether it is human rights activism or music. I became a child soldier around the age of 17 when I was in high school. It was in 1990s when the Sudanese army was fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The Sudanese army was almost defeated. Having lost the entire South Sudan to the SPLA, they called the public to join and support the army. After realizing this wasn’t really working, they came up with the idea of national service. When you were done with high school, you had to serve in the army before you were allowed to join the university. You would undergo 3 months of military training before getting deployed to the battlefield for 1 year. After that period, you would be awarded a certificate as proof that you served. For us, we joined with no option because we wanted to continue with our education. We also hoped that the war would end while we were undergoing training. Our training was only for 45 days, and the war was still on. We were deployed to protect the oil field in a region called Unity State in South Sudan. At that time, it was just one country. We didn’t even have prior war experience, so this was our first, let alone the fact that the environment was also new to us. I lost colleagues and friends, not just to war but also to diseases and the lack of access to food and clean drinking water. The enemy would attack, and we would find ourselves just running. In the process, some of my colleagues would lose their way back to the base and walk right into enemy territory, while others were left in the middle of nowhere with no food or water. They starved to death. That was over 20 years ago, but I still remember everything so vividly, and I get nightmares about those events from time to time. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[2/4] I spent 9 months as a child soldier. Being a soldier is not an easy experience. It is very tough and traumatizing, witnessing people die in front of you and the uncertainty of whether you’ll get to see tomorrow or not. Music was our solace. We had a Walkman and cassette tapes with albums like Awilo Longomba, DMX’s Ruff Ryderz, and Tupac’s All Eyez On Me. We didn’t have many Walkman players, so we had to listen and then pass them to our colleagues, sharing the music. We knew the songs word for word because that’s all we listened to every single day. There was a time when we were jailed for 20 days because we disobeyed orders, and military prison is hell. We were locked up in a dark room with no light and nobody to talk to. We slept on the cold stony floor. They only took us out for 20 minutes every day to eat and then subjected us to 2 full hours of torture. The torture methods varied each day depending on which soldier was in charge. It was tough to endure. Our friends outside tried to make it bearable by bribing the soldiers on guard with cigarettes and alcohol so that we could at least have access to music. One day you’d have dreams and hopes, and the next, you’d feel suicidal. I can’t count how many times I just wanted to take the bullet and end everything. I’m not a believer and I don’t practice any religion. I must say, music is the only thing that gave me hope at that time. Music helped me so much during those 9 months of military service, especially listening to Tupac’s All Eyez On Me album. It’s very special to me, especially after losing one of my childhood friends who was brilliant and had dreams of studying medicine at the university right after our military service. I remember it was a normal day at our base. We were chilling and playing cards when his commander called him because there was an ambush and the team needed support. He left his cards, thinking he would come back and we’d resume the game. One or two hours later, the fighting intensified, and we were called for backup. When we got there, we found his lifeless body lying down. It was devastating, losing a friend at 16. I kept his blood-stained clothes for so long. I’d look at them and smell them. It was crazy having to bury your friend so young and losing them in such a manner. I was just lucky to return home because most of my friends and colleagues were killed, while others stayed and continued as professional soldiers. Today, I’m very passionate about children’s rights, which stems from my past experience as a child soldier. I believe children should be protected. I wish a normal life for all children, especially in Africa. By a normal life, I mean a child should be a child, wake up, go to school, have proper shelter, and have access to medical care and food. Not a life where they’re homeless or have to pick up arms and become child soldiers. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[3/4] My experience as a child soldier shaped how I saw the happenings in my home country. Conflict was a key element for me to be a human rights defender, witnessing villages being burned down, relatives killed, and women raped. These violations motivated me to do something to stop them. To halt these incidents, I had to find like-minded people who shared the same goals. I sought out activists and organizations fighting for peace, justice, and accountability for the victims and human rights in Sudan. I provided free legal aid to internally displaced persons and documented human rights violations in my hometown and the Darfur region as a whole. At some point, we conducted investigations into these violations to support the work of the International Criminal Court. Unfortunately, we were arrested and detained. Personally, I was arrested, released, and then arrested again. I don’t remember the exact period I spent in jail, but it was long, and my colleagues were severely tortured. In 2009, during the aftermath of the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Bashir by the International Criminal Court, some colleagues and I had to flee the country. With the support of DefendDefenders and the leadership of the late Osman Hummaida, we established our organization, the African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, in Uganda. Our aim was to reconnect and support our colleagues who were left behind in Sudan. It is a Sudanese organization based in Uganda, enabling us to continue our advocacy work concerning the situation in Sudan at the time, as well as monitoring and reporting on human rights violations. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[4/4] After the Sudan revolution in 2019, Hassan Shire and I travelled to Sudan. We established a network of human rights defenders, and by 2020, DefendDefenders was registered as an organization with offices in Khartoum. Therefore, at the beginning of April this year, I travelled to Sudan to support the team and carry out some work there as well. I had only been there for two weeks when the war broke out again. My apartment was hit by a bomb. I cannot adequately express my feelings in words. To this day, I have failed to find the right words, the appropriate vocabulary to describe the feeling when war erupted. It was unfortunate, saddening, depressing, and traumatizing. It happened on a normal Friday evening. I had just met my long-time friends, and we were catching up, cooking, having drinks, and listening to music. We had even made plans for the weekend, but everything changed. It took three weeks to travel from Khartoum to Kampala, which is usually a 3-hour flight. We drove and walked until we crossed over into South Sudan. However, when we finally reached there, it took almost a month to get a plane to Juba. We found ourselves in a deserted place with no shelter or food. Every day, we had to walk 30 kilometres to the next town just to access water and find something to eat. Then, we would return to that airport in the middle of nowhere, hoping that a plane would come and pick us up. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[1/4] My journey and passion for human rights started when I was very young, staying at my uncle’s place. My mentor Dr Ishmail Juma’le was the only human rights lawyer in Somalia at the time, defending prisoners of conscience in court. He was himself, a prisoner of conscience three times but that never stopped him from continuing with his activism and defending the political detainees of the dictatorship regime at the time. I grew up in that kind of atmosphere and I despised the dictatorship. I should say I was lucky to be part of a movement where the consciousness of liberty and freedom was very much alive and has never been broken. My activism started there, thinking about what my mentor was doing and why he was doing it. I remember soldiers would come and raid his home in the middle of the night, we’d hear dogs barking. That’s how we always knew they had come for him. He was always ready, he had his small bag packed. And whenever he got arrested, he encouraged us to be strong. I started emulating his character. I was in high school at the time, and I was a conscious student leader wanting democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights. My academic performance was excellent, I used to inspire many students including the children of the military junta. They became aware that what their parents were doing was not necessarily right. We used to hold debates at all levels and from that time onwards I’ve never stopped being an activist. I co-founded the only human rights organisation in Somalia called Dr Ishmail Juma’le Human Rights Centre which is named after my late uncle. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[2/4] In 2001 I was forced to leave my home country by warlords and religious fundamentalists deploying violence on anyone that did not agree with their point of view. I have been targeted several times; one night we were sleeping and I narrowly escaped when the house was directly shelled. Another time we were at a checkpoint and the militia manning it was specifically asking “Where’s Hassan?” to the three occupants of the car ahead of us. They told them “None of us is Hassan, Hassan’s photo is everywhere. Do we look like Hassan?” The whole time I was seated in the car behind them. Our car was a scrap of metal on wheels, it had no door handles, nothing and I was in there disguised. I was wearing my nomadic clothes and a stick, looking dirty. Luckily I crossed the checkpoint unnoticed. When I got to the plane, there were no seats left but I eventually got a place to sit close to the cockpit and then that’s when I started to speak in English- the pilot was shocked. When we were airborne, I introduced myself as Hassan Shire and he said, “You made it. No one can recognise you. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[3/4] When I left Somalia I went to Kenya where I realised at the time that protection mechanisms and recognition of human rights defenders were not in place or hadn’t been established. It was very risky for me there as well. I had to seek out better protection and that’s how I ended up in Canada. While there I wondered why my friends and colleagues from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, and Sudan were not being protected. They were part of the struggle to get recognition. “What can you do as an individual, how can you bridge that gap?” That’s the question I asked myself. I arrived on Friday in Canada and on Monday I had a desk at Amnesty International's Toronto office doing voluntary work on refugee matters and conceptualising an idea on how and where the protection of human rights activists could take place on the continent. A group which I was part of who found themselves in Canada was also asking themselves why we were not in our sub regions. If we failed to get protection from our home countries, why couldn’t we continue with the same work closer to home? That’s the fire that started DefendDefenders. We refused to accept that human rights activists should be left vulnerable and isolated. We wanted them to be dignified and equipped with tools of survival and relaunched. Protection mechanism for human rights activists is not a cup of tea. But we continue to fight until we get to a time when we have peace, and respect for human rights prevails. (Nsambya, Kampala)
[4/4] "I have thousands of activists whose stories have touched me. For example, our very own Majid Maali from Sudan who was part of the group that filed the case in the ICC against former dictator Omar Bashir, was captured tortured and beaten. He escaped and went through South Sudan, then came to Uganda as a young man. We took care of him, equipped him with skills and he’s now part of our staff. He has lived here in Uganda for 14 years. It was in April this year when he decided to go back to Sudan and establish our offices there and also continue with the work he has been doing. Unfortunately, the war broke out days after he arrived in Sudan but he insists on continuing to work there. Isn’t that inspiring?." (Nsambya, Kampala)
“What you're seeing at the camp right now is destruction. There's no moral values call them Christians, call them Muslims, call them Ugandans. There's nothing that one can go on celebrating that am working for a global world. In a Pan Africanism approach using patriotic measures we need to do something which will be a model for all the camps under bidi-bidi in the five zones of Yumbe district have the largest refugee population globally, then something of global importance must be done for these people. And the aid should not be for the refugees alone, even the landlords. People who gave out all this land for free they need to be appreciated and the refugees should be encouraged not to lose hope, regenerate positive thinking in them because all their focus right now is "what will I get" that’s why everyone is here from the children to the mothers and even their fathers too. Parents are not even minding about the safety of their children right now. Whatever you see here started in August 2016 as a result of serious killings in South Sudan up to today, the life is just like this there's a continuous struggle and scramble for livelihood. This calls for collective intellectual African approach, collective not selective. It must not be influenced by ethnicity or religious beliefs. Civil societies and governmental organisations should come and do something meaningful for these refugees empower them with skills, retool them with trainings. There's so many school dropouts here- -very many. There's teenage moms and dads every stake holder must come out and we help out our brothers and sisters -- our fellow Africans. People talk about patriotism just on paper you don't see it being practiced.”  (Bidi bidi refugee settlement, Yumbe)
"I really love Uganda, it's now my home because I am spending my life here. Everything has really changed for me here for example back in South Sudan, I was computer illiterate but I've been able to build that skill through the efforts of other organizations operating here in the camp. The aid given to us is not really enough to sustain us so I personally practice some agriculture. I also own a kiosk of drinks but the state under which it operates is risky, for instance, if the policemen find you open at 10:30pm you're forced to close the premises immediately even with customers around. So you have to bribe them with either cigarettes or some liquor and some times money. It really makes business hard for me” (Bidi bidi refugee settlement, Yumbe)
“One of the challenges in living with the host community, Some of them are evil they’re bad hearted. One day my wife was nearly killed by an arrow that was shot by the neighbour all because she was cutting wild grass for thatching our hut. They always dictate how much grass we take and they make sure we get very little then they set the remaining grass on fire if we want more they want us to buy it from them. These are the same people who have continuously bribed officers to grant them the refugee status"  (Bidi bidi refugee settlement, Yumbe)
“I grew up with my father in Kenya till the age of 16 when I decided to come to Uganda to look for my mother. Living with my step mother in Kenya was very hard because I was almost like a house maid—actually I was worse than a house maid because house maids get a salary at the end of the month. I watched my step mother’s kids go to school every day for 16 years, it was so disturbing. My father wasn’t broke he had money. He always took us out as a family to fancy restaurants in Nairobi. He bought us gadgets and nice clothes. But I can never forgive him for not taking me to school, it still hurts me to date. It’s so embarrassing when I can’t even read a simple text or a sign post because I never had a formal education. I finally came back to Uganda and started living with my mother, it’s not what I expected. We were like strangers. This is someone that left me when I was about 2 years and I was seeing them again after 14 years. I’d feel angry whenever I looked at her because to me she was responsible for all my suffering. If she hadn’t left me maybe my life would have turned out differently. I later left her place and moved in with my boyfriend. Unfortunately I got pregnant while at my boyfriend’s place. He denied the baby and sent me away. I tried staying with my friends but nobody wanted me. They’d let me stay for a day or two then ask me to leave. I kept moving from one friend to another. I was now 7 months pregnant. I got so stressed out I resorted to drinking heavily from morning to dusk hoping I’d just pass out & die. I hated the father of my unborn child, he had spoilt my future and he wasn’t offering me support. I got tired of everything so I went back to my mother’s place. One day I got labour pains and my own mother couldn’t even help me. It was my step father that heard me groaning in pain and rushed me to a clinic where I gave birth from. My step father helped me with the hospital bill and we went back home. That night my mother came back drunk and the baby was crying. I tried breast feeding it but in vain. It cried for a full night till morning. My mother got fed up and sent me back to my boyfriend’s place. He had got another girlfriend. I asked him for money to take our baby for checkup but he kept making empty promises and dodging me. He then stopped coming back home. The baby later died in my arms I couldn’t believe it. I walked in the middle of the road holding its body in my arms wishing a car could just run me over and end my suffering. I was determined to die but it didn’t happen. People pulled me away but I wasn’t myself. I hated my baby daddy, I hated my friends, I hated my mother and them I hated myself. I started a new life, left all my old friends. I’m now learning tailoring which will help me earn some money. I’m so sick and tired of men disrespecting me, You know when you’re dependent on your partner for everything they despise and take you for granted—I learnt my lesson. To everyone out there, You can be going through some really tough moments feeling worthless wishing you were dead then you meet someone and your life changes forever. If you’re still breathing never lose hope because life can change in an instant. Personally whenever I see someone with a disability involved in an economic activity other begging. It motivates and challenges me to work even harder.” (Namungoona, Kampala)
“My father is a construction worker. His work is seasonal he can go months without money. So I chose to stop in senior four to give my younger siblings a chance to study as I enroll in a tailoring course that I hope will give me the skills I need to earn a living. My dad’s construction work requires him to travel upcountry for months. I remember this one time he was away and my little sibling got ill. He had hernia and it got really worse. The doctors said he needed to be operated on. It was a trying time since our dad was away and they needed money which we didn’t have at that time. My mom was there to strengthen us and she kept asking me to pray and stay strong. The operation went well and I can’t thank God enough. My mom is a strong woman she always asks us to seek God’s guidance and protection at all time.”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“I wanted to be a lawyer after my secondary school but when I got pregnant during my senior four vacation everything changed. I couldn’t continue with school I had a lot of responsibilities after I gave birth. Taking care of my new born baby was a full time job then I also had to find something to do since I wasn’t going to continue with school and my parents weren’t ready to give full support. What happened…happened, there’s nothing I can do about it. I won’t lie to you I regret the decision and if there was a way I could go back in time. I’m sorry I wouldn’t have this baby. I’d be in school with my friends. I’ve learnt to be focused and also try to do everything at it’s right time and this goes to every girl out there—one wrong decision can change your life either positively or negatively”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“My mother died when I was about three years old and I never got to see my dad I don’t even know what he looked like. He died when I was so young. My brother and I have been raised by our maternal aunty whom we call our ‘mother’ she has fed, dressed and educated us like her own kids. I’m grateful for what she has done for us even though I’ve only been able to study up to senior four I’m happy not many orphans get this opportunity. I remember one of our teachers was a practicing lawyer he used to tell us about the cases he had won and the various clients he represented in court. I admired him. He was a good role model that inspired a lot of us to want to become lawyers. So, instead of just sitting at home pitying myself I chose to come to AMKA Foundation and take free classes in fashion and designing to help me get some skills that will enable me earn a living. I hope to use the money to continue with my education that will push me towards becoming a lawyer—I’m trying to focus on what’s really important in my life and ignore the distractions.”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“After graduating I got a job as a teller at a bank. When I had my fourth child I was forced to extend my maternity leave because the baby was very sickly. So when I went back to work I had been replaced without my notice. My side hair salon business eventually closed because my former job literally financed it. That’s when it hit me that I was officially jobless. I got a job somewhere else but it required me to wake up very early and retire home late which I found very inconveniencing for my family especially my new born, so I had to quit. That’s how I became a stay at home wife surviving on my husband’s salary which wasn’t enough. I think being unemployed is hard especially if you were working before. I’d wake up just to sit around doing nothing productive it was very disturbing. I’d reflect on the times when I still had a job and I’d feel really sad and hopeless. My former school mates were laughing and making jokes about me. I think life becomes very complicated when you don’t have money on you and you have a family with huge responsibilities. I’m currently taking free a course in fashion and designing. I hope to start my own boutique soon as I’m done. God willing I’ll be able to sustain and support my family again”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“In 2012 I got a scholarship after I emerged the best UCE student in Sironko district. Everyone was happy for me but I was sad when I realized most of my classmates had failed and they were going to repeat senior four. I feel success is best enjoyed when your friends are winning too, that way it’s fun. In 2017 I later graduated in comprehensive nursing. I won’t lie getting employed was tough but soon I got a job at a clinic. There was a lot of competition at work which I was prepared for. I was overworked instead of the agreed 8 hours I was doing 10 or 12 hours a day and I wasn’t paid at the end of the month. Another challenge was renewing my practicing license at the local council. It required bribing and also you had to be from a certain family to speed up the process. All these problems eventually made me quit because there was no reason continuing to work in a place where I wasn’t getting paid. I’m now learning fashion and design, a skill I hope to take to my village and empower the girls there.” (Namungoona, Kampala)
“I was raised by my grandmother I didn’t grow up with my father. I never even got to see him and there were moments when I really needed him especially when I was sent back home for school fees and other scholastic requirements. My grandma was very instrumental in my academics she gave me the little money made from selling malwa (local brew), when the money wasn’t enough she gave me beans and maize flour to take to school such that they let me stay and study. She was so optimistic and always told me ‘We’ll be alright my daughter if the God we serve still reigns we shall be fine’ My mother was around but she never had a job. I got all the support I needed from my grandma but it wasn’t enough so I had to dropout in my senior four and my dream of being a news anchor was broken. Sometimes we lacked what to eat and the malwa business wasn’t much profitable. So my grandma and I moved around Busamaga village in Sironko helping farmers to dig, weed their gardens and in return they’d give us food sometimes money in return. This was a very challenging time in my life but what kept me going was church it lifted my spirit and hope. There’s a bible verse which says ‘Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they’. My past has taught me to be patient because no situation is permanent all you have to do is stay hopeful and pray to God.”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“In 2015 my dad ran out of funds he couldn’t see all of us through school, so he made up his mind to discontinue me from school. It was a logical considering two of my brothers were already in candidate classes. So all my school fees was transferred to them. I chose to leave home. Seeing my siblings go to school without me made me sad. I went to stay with a friend that made jewelry so I helped her hawk them around Hoima town. And to be honest my mom is the only person I missed when I was away. She’s a woman of courage. In 2013 I was bed ridden for two years and guess who was by my side supporting and taking care of me. They literally carried me off my sickbed to the examination room and then back. All the time she kept telling me I was going to get well and indeed I did get well. When I was packing to leave home she asked me to be careful and I promised her. She has never said it to my face but I know I disappointed her when I got pregnant in 2017. Honestly conceiving when you haven’t planned. I don’t wish it for anybody, it was hell on earth for me. Taking care of my unborn baby. Sometimes I feel like a failure when I think about my mom. I’m currently taking fashion and design classes I hope to open up a big fashion house—I hope it makes my mother proud because I’m working hard.”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“My father was a businessman he moved on trucks from town to town buying cattle. One day he fell from up the truck where he was seated and damaged his spinal cord. He spent 7 years bedridden, he couldn’t speak, eat, stand for seven years he couldn’t do anything by himself. We had to feed, bathe, and clean after him. It was challenging the first month but we had gotten used to it. My mother was brought in sick from Kenya where she worked. She was only admitted for a short time before passing away then two weeks later my father also died under my care. My father raised me alone. He took me everywhere with him since he couldn’t leave me at home. He literally carried me on his back. I remember he always told me to be grateful, humble and respectful in life. His death was the final blow to my life. I had to stop schooling in primary three. I stayed with my aunties and when I was about 14 I then started working at one of my aunty’s restaurant. It wasn’t easy we had to wake up at 4am every day to prepare food and us the waiters had to wait until 4pm to eat. That’s how I developed ulcers it was so bad I couldn’t even walk—I was hospitalized before quitting. I am now learning tailoring it’s my only hope in life. Since I never really went far with education, this is the only thing I can take pride in.”  (Namungoona, Kampala)
“Life would be better if we all stopped asking, ‘what am I getting out of it?’ and started asking ‘what am I contributing to it?’ that’s what I think. And if we all had that kind of perspective and remembered that perspective every single day of our life. I personally forget it many times. I think this world would be a better place to live. I’m gonna paraphrase Jackie Robinson a famous baseball player who said ‘Life has no meaning except for the impact it has on other people’s lives’. Michael Jackson said in one of his songs, ‘if you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself then make a change’” (Makerere, Kampala)
“While at Nakivale refugee camp, we were in line struggling to get food when a fellow refugee of Congolese nationality that was in front me hit my breast so hard with his elbow and I fell down. I don’t know why he hit me. I can never findout. I was in so much pain they rushed me to the doctor for first aid treatment. I then went to the police and reported the man. He was later arrested for assaulting me. After a while I started feeling a pain in my right breast, I went back to the doctor for a chest scan and that’s all I got no medication.The pain sometimes reoccurs in my left breast for a few days and then disappears. I’m now used to it but I still worry for my life though I have no choice at all but to pray to Allah since I can’t afford the treatment. After almost a week the Somali friends that I was staying with in Nakivale camp asked me to leave. They said I needed to go look for work in Kampala and also to run away from the Congolese man that I had gotten behind bars. This was for my safety because he said he was going to come back and revenge. Even though I left Nakivale I still feel insecure. I live in fear thinking that the Congolese man is going to hurt me, so I move around with my face covered.”  (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“When I escaped the insurgency in Somalia. I settled in Kisenyi (Kampala Suburb) where I hardly interacted with the locals except my fellow Somalis that I met here because of the language barrier. I always felt like a stranger because my Somali friends seemed to get along with the people in our host community. I could tell from their interaction. I also noticed the people were kind of afraid to speak to me because they knew I couldn’t speak the local languages and English. It made it hard for me to seek employment because I could only speak Somali and Arabic in a country where English is their official language. So I volunteered at a local mosque where I taught kids the Quran and Arabic. That’s all I did all day. Teach at the mosque then retire back home to my family. One day when I was walking back home I met a group of Somalis when I asked where they were going. They brought me to an organization called Hope hub where I’m learning English. So far I know how to greet and I can hear some words when you speak to me in English. Unlike before I never used to speak to the locals but now I can at least I can say hello to them. When I get better at it I want to teach my kids English as well.” (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“I came to Uganda after I got done with my high school in Somalia. My plan was to continue with my education at a good university. Unfortunately the tuition was too much for my parents. There was nothing really for me to engage in I just stayed at home doing nothing. Until one day my friends told me about an organization that gives free practical skills to refugees. I enrolled in the IT class. I want to be a respected web developer in the near future and I'm working towards it.“ (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“I was doing a three year course in nursing at a university back home in Somalia. Towards my final year it became really unsafe for me to continue with school. There were bomb blasts, kidnappings and gun shots every day. I was scared of moving out of the house to go to school. Imagine not being sure if you’re going to live to see the next day. That’s what forced me to drop out and travel to Uganda. When I came here I stayed in Kisenyi with my family. I was really passionate about nursing but my parents didn’t have funds to enroll me at a nursing school. Uganda was different especially the culture, people here dress so differently compared to us Somalis. But it’s a good place safer than Somalia I can say. At the moment I’m learning to do henna and make up. I enjoy doing it. And my father is very supportive. He is always asking me to keep learning and never stop learning that’s what motivates me every day. My advice to the refugees out there is they should be confident. They should try to learn something that will help them earn a living and improve their well-being” (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“I came to Uganda in 2014 by myself, the rest of my family stayed in Somalia. It was hard I had to find where to stay and how to earn. Naturally I hate staying at home. I always want to learn something new. So I moved around until I got a school where I was getting some practical skills in tailoring. Unfortunately I got pregnant and I had a C-section. I couldn’t continue with school since I had a kid and my body was weak from the C-section that I got. I was forced to stay at home for close to two years taking care of my kid and also to help me heal. Until one of my friends told me about an organisation where they give refugees free skills and that’s how I came to hope hub. Hope hub to me is not just a school. It is my home. I have friends that have become family here. I feel bad when the school is closed on Sundays because I want to keep coming every single day even when I don’t have classes I can help teach some of the refugees. I have learnt henna and make up which has helped me earn money to meet my needs. My classmates here always share my work with their friends and that’s how I get clients. Even though my customer base is still small. I’m optimistic it will grow and I will employ my fellow refugees. I’m also learning photography because some time back I was at a Somali wedding and they refused a man to go take pictures of the ladies. So I thought maybe if I learnt how to take pictures they can trust me to go take pictures of their wives and I can make money. I pledged to teach my fellow refugees everything that I learn for free. I feel good when I teach someone and they’re able to make money from it and support themselves or even their family.”  (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“I used to go to a school where we paid to learn English. Then one day my friends told me about an organization called hope hub where they skill refugees. I love hope hub because I’m learning English and baking. I’m also learning how to use a computer all for free. I feel like I have a lot of options here unlike before. I want to be someone other refugees can look at and get inspired. I hope to be a business woman that will help other less privileged people not just refugees but every single person that I cross path with.”  (Kisenyi, Kampala)
“We fled Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo during the genocide. It was a really tough time because me and other female refugees were beaten so badly before getting raped. I’m grateful to God I didn’t get HIV/AIDS. My husband was arrested and beaten so bad. He lost his teeth and can’t even walk as a result of the torture his spinal cord was damaged. It was then that I decided to move to Uganda with my six children. Taking care of them was hard because I never had a job let alone where to stay. So I managed to talk to the locals who helped me secure a casual job at a restaurant. The pay was enough to only pay for our rent but couldn’t cater for other basic needs like food, clothing and a decent education. During the struggle to get funding for my kids education I met a Rwandese man that promised to help get sponsorship for them but he attempted to rape me when I went to meet him. As a person I’ve been hurt emotionally and physically. I hardly sleep at night because of the flashbacks from the men that raped me and it keeps me awake. I was hit with a gun butt on the back till today I have difficult standing or sitting for long, I have this chronic pain in my back. While in Uganda I was beaten strangled and left for dead in a swamp. By luck of God I gained consciousness and dragged myself to the roadside where I got help but I had lost my voice. I now speak but as you can see I can’t speak loudly. I’m so traumatised I fear soldiers, the sight of them makes me uncomfortable. I live in fear that someone is going to come and hurt me and my family. But I’m also grateful to God that has kept me alive, I’ve cheated death because of Him.”  (Kisenyi, Kampala)
"What is your biggest struggle at the moment?" "I met a lovely girl here at Namboole, I immediately liked her she was fun, we started hanging out here together. Then I realised I wanted us to be more than just friends, so we upgraded to lovers it's been 3 weeks now. Yesterday as I went back my landlord told me that a certain lady was looking for me, she only knew my last name. That's when I learnt that the girl I fell in love with had been missing from home for a week. And the lady that was looking for me was her guardian she has already reported matter to the police. She wants me arrested. So I am searching for the girl just to save myself and at the same time I am heart broken why could she do such a thing to me- I hope she's still alive some where, If I don't find her I am not going back home" "Do you have any photos of her, Maybe I could post them and help with the search?" "Sure, I do have lots of them but they can't be of any use right now" (Namboole Stadium, Wakiso)
"I went to Kitante, I was among those playful kids the type that loved to play soccer all the time. I had little time for my books. I remember during my final high school exams all I prayed for was to atleast get 15 points and below because I knew for a fact that there was no way a person like me could raise 25 points and thats exactly what happened. When results came out I had scored 24 points, I was more than surprised- Today I'm government sponsorship at Makerere University Business School doing Accounting and Finance" (Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"What keeps me going, What keeps me pushing this thing every morning is the fact that I have set myself goals, goals that I need to accomplish. I believe in life if you don't have goals, you're as good as dead because you have no reason to live" "What are some of your goals then?" "By December this year I shall be opening up a video library, I already purchased the necessary equipment. I'm just waiting for one of my old school friends to come and start operating it during his school holidays"  (Namboole-Kirinya, Wakiso)
"I'm studying Bio-Medical Engineering at Makerere University, Kampala" "Why did you choose to study Bio-Medical Engineering?" "Well, First of all Bio-Medical Engineering is basically about relating technology and human health. I chose this course because I figured there is a scarcity of Bio-Medical Engineers in Uganda, Like donors and investors bring up these high tech machines in the country and donate some to the different hospitals but they end up being unused and hence not helpful due to the lack of people with the technical know-how to operate them. When I graduate I shall be able to offer maintenance, diagnosis and run the machines" (Namboole Stadium-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"Weed is a drug, Weed is not bad its rather the people that use it. I can't imagine life without weed. It is one of God's greatest creations among plants. I wonder how the non-weed smokers handle life- I was sober for a day but I almost died" "What do you smoke weed for?" "Weed is a tool to me I don't use it against people but rather to accomplish tasks. Most of the work I do is physical, so weed powers me up. Its the reason most of my friends are off for lunch break and am still working as good as new" (Bombe-Kirinya, Wakiso)
"I dropped out of school & started rearing animals and growing crops. Today I'm able support my family and pay school fees for my siblings- I don't want them to drop out too" "Now that you have an income source, Why don't you go back to school?" "That means I will drop out again due to insufficient funds, because with farming there are no miracles what you put in is what you harvest. When I start schooling my input shall be reduced, it's better I let my siblings study on my behalf"  (Kirinya-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"What is the hardest part of being a security guard?" "The nights are so long, quiet and cold I wish I had someone to talk to, it helps kill the boredom I used to have Warid mega bonus free calls, I would call almost the whole village back at home just to take me through the night with their random conversations but now the service was terminated now all I do is listen to radio which plays so much luganda music" I was walking away when called me back and said 'Ssebo! 'How much is that camera?' It takes good pictures. I want to buy one like that and start a photo studio some day. (Kasokoso-Kireka, Wakiso)
"I once ran this farm produce joint business with a friend, we were so close my kids called him uncle. I had no idea he would be the same person to bring me so much heart ache. One morning I woke up to an empty store, he had loaded all the stock and disappeared with it. Ever since then, I have never heard from him. I called his phone numbers but they were all switched off. It was not long my wife also left even though she did not leave immediately, my guts tell me she ran off with my friend leaving me with four kids- That bastard is the reason I now ride a boda-boda to support my kids back in the village" (Namboole Stadium-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"I'm a soldier and at the same time studying Law. The hardest thing about Law is there's a lot of material and books to refer to, but I think it is really important to be a soldier with a legal background. It helps you know what is supposed to be done on the battlefield as a soldier, your rights and then the rights of the other people involved like Women, Children" "What is your biggest goal?" "I want to become a prominent lawyer, So that I can provide legal advice to my fellow soldiers and the women out there"  (Bombo, Luweero)
"My parents died when I was a toddler and that was the beginning of our mix up we stayed in Sese Islands by then, I was brought up by a guardian who said my siblings were also taken up by someone else. He passed on when I was just a teenager. At the moment I'm alone in this world with no known family relatives. I have no idea where my siblings are, that's if they are not even dead. If they are living then that's great even though I cannot recognise them" "What is your biggest struggle?" "I am trying to start my own family more like a clan lineage from scratch- I have two lovely baby boys so far"  (Namboole-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"Kampala is the most tricky city I have lived, from the taxis to the boda bodas on the street. Everything is possible here, but the challenge is more about learning not to be put off by how cool the city looks" "What have you learnt in Kampala so far?" "People who look the coolest are the most conservative and those that look normal turnout to be the more interesting ones, Always keep your eye out for the men in yellow shirts and black trousers" "What kind of people do you think you fall in?" "The Street kids" (Centenary park, Kampala)
"You won't believe this but I used to play football, most of my team mates by then are now playing professionally and I think I weighed about 60Kgs. When I quit football I gained so much weight I was not even aware, till I ran into one of my old friends who could not believe it was me. I weighed 109Kgs that was my wake up call- Today I weigh about 99Kgs" "What is the secret to your weight loss?" "I must say the month of Ramathan did it for me, I was fasting and working out throughout the whole period of Ramathan- It took a lot of determination and faith to lose those 10Kgs and am still counting"  (Namboole Stadium-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"I used to be a clown at the Uganda Cancer Institute, where I played, joked and had fun with the Kids with cancer during the annual gigs that were organised. I think I fell in love with them afterwards, Today I own Akiba Children's Home. Where cancer patients from allover Uganda can come and get free Accommodation and Food as they receive medical attention" "Describe Ugandans in a paragraph?" "I can proudly say Ugandans are really generous people because I can assure you that Akiba Children's Home which is under Bless A Child Foundation is 100% locally funded" "If you were asked to give advice to a group of people what would you say?" "I urge everyone to make it a habit to go for medical checkups, because at least most of the health complications that claim our lives can be cured if detected at an early stage" "Whats the hardest thing about living with cancer patients?" "They're fun people, though cancer is an un-predictable stubborn disease because today the Kid can be totally fine then the next day they're really down or you might even come back next week asking about a certain playful kid you met and we tell you he/she passed on, so here at Akiba Children's Home we live each day like its our last because you never really know what might happen tomorrow" (Makerere, Kampala)
"I had greed for money, I loved money very much, it's the reason I dropped out of school because every time my parents gave me money to go clear my school dues I instead spent it buying petty stuff like radios, Time came when I could not depend on my parents so I left Kamuli for Kampala. I used to repair electronics and now I live on the streets" "What would you do if your son/daughter turned out like you?" "Trust me I would not tolerate that nonsense because I learnt a lesson from all that so I would be so strict on my children" #HumansOfUganda (Centenary park, Kampala)
"We're treated like outlaws in this country by KCCA law enforcers. They chase us away from the streets saying we make them look untidy, I thought we're Ugandan citizens too. The only difference between us and other Ugandans is that we're street kids, which is not something we chose. They use a lot of force I have been beaten countless times since I use a wheel chair my mates often flee easily leaving me vulnerable, others extort money just to let us be here at centenary park" (Centenary Park, Kampala)
"I wish I could just see my parents for a few minutes that would be enough. I stay with my uncle. I don't know my parents but he tells me they're still alive. Then I ask myself why they wouldn't want to live with me, why they left me all alone to suffer and why can't he show them to me" "Who pays your school fees?" "Myself! "I'm a taxi conductor. I work on Saturdays and Sundays by Monday am so exhausted so I stay home till Tuesday- All my uncle provides is shelter the rest is up to me"  (Namboole, Wakiso)
"I'm trying to change the society I live in, I'm working with the kids on the street by helping them realise their talents" "What is your biggest struggle?" "It's the dreadlocks on my head, some people do understand that it's just a hair style then the rest who are still in the past like my family can't even stand seeing me with this head gear they think rasta men are thugs, do drugs- I am not even a rastafarian, its a big tribe that I don't belong to. I just have dreadlocks on my head and that's my similarity with them"  (Makerere, Kampala)
"I remember my mom said to me, 'Always love and pray to God. Respect your parents and elders and your days on earth shall be joyful. Forgive all those that wrong and hurt you'" "Describe me a moment when someone hurt you?" "Before I got operated, I had this huge cancerous tumor in my left side of the cheek. I could hardly smile or speak, it affected my sight too. People in my community used to finger point at me and laugh, others called me names some didn't even want to associate with me. So I covered my face with a veil each time I moved around the neighbourhood depressed but left with no choice- I thank God the operation was successful as you can see the tumor was removed, I don't look like a monster anymore. Can't wait to have my dentures fixed too"  (Makerere, Kampala)
"One time while home alone, I picked up our neighbours bicycle and went riding around the village with it, It was fun. Little did I know I had caused myself a lot of trouble back home. I got home late with a flat tyre, I was nervous and scared to death that my mother was going to kill me. Instead she was excited to see me and told me of how the neighbour had reported a stolen bicycle to the local council" "What's best the piece of advice you ever got from your mother?" "My mother asked me never to steal or pick up someone's property without their permission and always admit my mistake"  (Makerere, Kampala)
"I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk. I'm already late I have some work to finish up in my garden. You must be new in this village. Here no one talks to me except strangers and those that are so so close to me" "Can I ask why people don't talk to you here?" "It all goes way back to when my co-wife and I had an argument. I said something to her out of anger and by coincidence it happened. I was shocked too. Since then she went around spreading rumours that am a bloody witch- In return people hated me" "What really happened?" *Walks away* "Oh please! I told you am already late just ask around"  (Budadiri, Sironko)
"You know in working with gold we use mercury, sometimes we use alot and we just touch with our naked hands. I remember when I was pregnant with my son I still used to use the mercury without any protection, sometimes even with utensils like spoons to burn the gold, or even using my basin. Here we didn't know how dangerous mercury is until an NGO working on a community project came and sensitised us, it is when I realised that all those years of using mercury even when I was pregnant may actually be the cause of the eye defects that my son was born with" (Tiira, Busia)
"My biggest struggle right now, I'm still trying to take in my sister's death. It all happened so fast. We believe she was bewitched by her work friends. They were jealous because she had only just come and had already been promoted. As a family we were excited and happy for her but our joy never lasted long as she developed stomach complications, she later became mute could not speak or eat. She only smiled and nodded at whoever came to visit her" "What has your sister's death taught you?" "Alot! To never, ever trust a friend no matter how close & friendly they might be"  (Namayembe, Bugiri)
"For all the past years of my life, I have been working hard only to spend all my earnings on booze. It breaks my heart to see most of my childhood friends all successful and doing better than me. At the beginning of this year I told myself I was going to quit drinking after I realised it is the cause of all my problems- It has seemed hard to achieve so far because even when am broke my friends still buy me" "What is one of the problems drinking has caused you?" "One time I think I was drunk, they said I threatened to kill my mom. When she said I was a big man now and asked me to leave her home and get a job- I feel embarrassed even though I don't recollect the whole situation"  (Budadiri, Sironko)
"Me I drive ore from Namayingo in Busoga all the way to Busia because there in Namayingo the ore is too much and so are the crushers. But all the crushers are always occupied. For example as of yesterday I had been waiting for three days to have my ore crushed until I then decided to put it in my taxi and drive it all the way here in Tiira. I was born in Busia but then moved in to the taxi business, but then I switched back to mining because that is where the money is at the moment. The taxi which I use to drive the ore is mine, so no one can ask me why am carrying sacks of rocks in my taxi instead of people. (Tiira, Busia)
"With my kind of job you raise and bring up a lot of children, take care of them like they are your own. Make them food, play with them, bathe them do all kinds of fun stuff with them. I remember a situation where this one kid got so used to me that she could not listen to anyone except me, we had tight bond. Not even her mom told her what to do. She shared a bed with me and called me her big sister. She's the only one that never made me feel like a house-maid. She made it so hard for me to quit as I kept extending time. I think that was the toughest decision I ever made- It made my heart bleed when I heard she cried for weeks when I left. Her mom called my phone several times asking me back. But I could not turn back I had made up my mind"  (Kirinya-Kavule, Wakiso)
"I believe God created people like us to be in society for a reason. I am not a beggar. I am not a drunkard & I am not retarded either. We are all created in God's image, so young man don't feel so better off and superior than me because you're all dressed up. I am just following what the bible says "Ask and you shall be given, seek and you will find, Knock and it shall be opened for you"- I sought happiness and found it in booze, Can I have some five hundred shillings [500UGX]? I am not going to spend it on booze. I feel feverish" (Budadiri, Sironko)
"I am trying to reconnect and get my family together. They're not in good terms with me. I recently held a wedding party and almost all my family members boycotted the ceremony. It was just my in laws that attended. I almost fainted. I am sorry to say this but my wedding ceremony has become the worst moment of my life. We had some issues way back and I thought they had forgotten and forgiven but I guess I was wrong- I still owe them an apology despite the many times I have cried and apologised"  (Sironko, Budadiri)
"My mother died as soon as she gave birth to me. I did not get a chance to know her. They say she was a good loving lady. I was brought up by my elder siblings. My childhood was not good either as I was forced to to work in order to earn some money at an early age. I remember starting school at the age of 9, I was 5 years older than the whole class. I was the only kid with beards in my class, students and teachers regularly picked on me. It greatly affected my self esteem and concentration in class. Hence my bad grades- I almost dropped out"  (Kireku-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"I am so happy you said I have a beautiful smile, Kids at school are so mean they don't even care about what they say. They always make fun of my toothless smile. I used to hit them and cry about it. To my surprise they would laugh even more. I had stopped smiling I would cover my mouth when I laugh.Then I learned not to hit them or cry about it or even say anything back to them and then all of a sudden they stopped. Now today you just told me am beautiful when I smile- I'm proud I will smile even more like I used to"  (Kinawataka-Kireka, Wakiso)
"My mom said they don't ask a woman her age. I know am not a woman yet but am training myself. Because someday I will have to grow into one" "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I am not sure yet, Because I want to be a dancer & dance like Sheeba then part of me wants to be a model. I think what I really want to be is a medical doctor" "Why's that?" "Because all these people that I want to be. All need a doctor at one point in their life- I think it's fun if am the one to help them, Don't you agree?"  (Kamuli-Kireka, Wakiso)
"I know kids in our village drop out of school very early. Some don't even finish the primary level of education. Its not only because of poverty, some kids are sturbborn they want money and riches. I have to travel a long way to the cheapest government school around. My mother told me not to give up on education no matter how far I have to travel. My mother sells charcoal and foodstuff. She made me a promise of keeping me in school as long she's alive. She also said I should not be like my father when I grow up- I always wonder what she meant" (Butto-Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"I remember growing up I always wanted to be either a medical doctor or a school teacher. But when I was around 14 years old. I got a special call which I believe came from God. The call to priesthood. It all begun with my admiration for the priests, their attires, the words they preached during mass. I always visualised myself as a priest. And am glad my family is so supportive to me. Even though a few friends stillI have not joined the seminary yet but I still respect that call so much because I believe that's my purpose in life. I always pray that God counts me among his chosen few. The bible says that 'many are called but few are chosen'. (Wilson Road, Kampala)
"I started working for KCC in 1981 and I had my first born in 1982. At that time they used to pay us UGX10,000 which had alot more value than the 10,000 of today. Before Jeniffer Musisi was brought to Kampala we used to have problems with the people that were supposed to pay us. They used to steal our money and not pay us even after we had worked. But now we are paid on time. Our next step is to ask them to increase on the money they pay us just a little because we do alot of work." (Clock tower, Kampala)
"I used to work at a farm. We had to wake up at 5 am & retire home at 6 pm. We walked close to 10 miles daily to the farm. Where we took care of cattle, do some gardening. They paid us 5,000UGX at the end of the day. I almost quit but then I thought of my kids back home who I wanted to get a decent education not end up like me that's what pushed me to work even harder. Until I was diagonised with kidney disease, I was forced to quit. Today I work as a cleaner at Magada Health center- Not because I want to clean but its all I can do due to my medical condition. I can't stay home and rest. I got a family to provide for.  (Magada, Namutumba)
"I have a big brother that I always looked up to. He was a role model. I admired him. I wanted to be just like him. He played football so well and I remember the first time I got to see him was on TV I was so excited I had to go home and tell mom about it. He made us proud when he scored the winning free kick for his team. A huge crowd of fans carried him up high. They praised him. He was man of the match. But deep inside I was saying "that's my brother and I want to be like him". Today he's not the guy I wanted to be anymore. His addiction to drugs killed his talent. He lost his mind. People that praised him are the same ones that criticise and judge him"  (Bweyogerere, Wakiso)
"[1/2] Well let me see I think one of my happiest moment was when I had my daughter here. I was only 19. Well to be honest there's nothing anyone says ever prepares you for your first child. I can't forget when her father pushed me to abort her because he thought he was unprepared and too young to have a family. Then I refused and ran to my mom who asked me never to abort and promised to do whatever it takes as long as she's alive to support me. And that moment at the hospital when I gave birth to her I was just laying down on the bed. Then I saw my mom holding her in her arms and she said to me, 'she looks just like me, the both of you now look like me' that's the moment when it really hit me that I had become a mother" (Budadiri, Sironko)
"They taught us how to pray in Sunday school. I always pray for my family and friends. I pray for peace and safety. I fear riots. I remember one time we were in school then suddenly we had blasts and there was a thick huge cloud of white smoke in the compound. We ran out of the classroom and scattered around the whole school in fear. I was terrified. I couldn't see well, I was choking and coughing something was burning my whole face. Kids allover the school were screaming and yelling. People came and helped us wash our faced with water. No one knew it was teargas except the teachers. My sister and some kids in the kindergarten section fainted and were rushed to a clinic - I thought they were dead" (Kireka-Kasokoso, Wakiso)
"When I grow up I just want to help people. I want to do give back to the community help the less previleged. You see am part of a dance project. They don't just give us free dance classes. But also teach us how to love and treat each other as a family with discipline despite our different back grounds. They help us discover and support our talents. I remember I used to consider certain things as for only boys, but I learnt that you can do anything if you put your heart to it"  (Wandegeya, Kampala)
"When I was young my dream was to work as a photojournalist for the UN. I lost my only sibling when I was 5 years old. At 8 years I again lost both of my parents to HIV/AIDS. Life wasn't the same anymore. I got locked up in Naguru Remand Home (Juvenile Detention) for 2 months. I became an alcoholic at 12 years. I got involved in church for about a year and I would say Matthew 7:7 had a lot for me. But all in all it's not me it's God. I am just fulfilling my purpose of living which is to help people through my different projects called "Photo 4 Charity" & "Walk Aid" a Non-profit organisation- I am lucky or grateful to have discovered my purpose of living"  (Mutaasa-Kafeero, Kampala)
"[2/2] After the 8 months in jail I pleaded innocent again and I was let off since there was no evidence to pin me to the allegations. I have lived to learn that being in a slum makes you a potential criminal, I also learnt that not everyone that's locked up in jail is a criminal many of them like myself are wrongfully arrested. The prison time I did taught me to be humble and most of all patient- It is the quietest and most organised place I've been to my whole entire life" (Firebase Barracks-Kamwokya, Kampala)
"[1/2] I was doing work as usual, It was around 6pm I remember I was washing a motorcycle when a police pickup pulled over the washing bay. Three policemen jumped off the pickup and charged towards me that's when I realised I was in trouble, I calmly dropped the washing sponge and raised both hands in the air. They screened me, slapped and kicked me before being pushed under the pickup seats- I woke up in a police cell and was taken to court. That's when I learnt that I was allegedly involved in a robbery, I pleaded innocent- So I was remanded for 8 months in Luzira prison as the police searched for evidence"  (Firebase-Kamwokya, Kampala)
"[2/2] Growing up they always told us there's only two things in life; Good and evil. But I recently discovered there's actually a third one which is repentance. You can either do good and be loved by everyone in society or do evil and get condemned. So by now you're left with repentance you admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness then get a fresh start- To everyone out there living with guilt in their hearts you can always get a second chance through repentence" (Firebase Barracks-Kamwokya, Kampala)
"[1/3] You have to realise who you really are and who you ought to be in life. Many youths these days live their lives without realising what their true purpose is. They tend to go were the wind blows them and so make wrong choices missing out on opportunities that could change their lives. I dont let my challenges define me, but rather I see an opportunity within one. That is why I take opportunities seriously because opportunity hits the doorbell once but temptation leans on the doorbell"  (Kyebando, Kampala)
"[2/2] We never had it all but then again we weren't broke. My dad was polygamous, He had so many mouths to feed and alot of pressure from the various extravagant wives. I never went so far with my education because of my dad's lifestyle. I remember him telling me 'You have now gotten somewhere academically, You need to give a chance to your siblings as well. You're a man. I've done what I could for you' - And that's how I left the only place I called home"  (Firebase Barracks- Kamwokya, Kampala)
"[4/5] Faith is a personal journey, Nobody should tell you how to go about it, just guide you . It's a relationship you build with God and just like any kind of relationships; you grow and get to know one another with time. For some people it actually takes a short time to go around; for others it takes a while so it varies from individual. There's no golden rule like if you meet or talk for a certain number of times you're guaranteed friendship. For the bible you can always pick a scripture you like distort it in a way that suits you and leave the rest. That's why we have Catholics, Born agains, Orthodox, Protestants and many more - - For everything a religious person does in their faith of choice, there's always a biblical backing they have for it. Whether it's right or wrong."  (Sharing Hall-Nsambya, Kampala)
" [2/5] I've always loved taking challenges right from my time at school. I remember when I was in Primary one I used to study Primary two work just to challenge myself; when I got to Primary two I was studying Primary three work and so on. Recently I just got done with my diploma in electrical engineering. I've always loved maths and the maths in this course has not been challenging enough - - I think am going to do a, degree then masters then head on to do a PhD in Mathematics. God willing "  (Sharing hall-Nsambya, Kampala)
"[6/6] I was getting started, my teachers felt I was chasing a dream far from reach so how do I hope to be rich chasing the wind? I quit school and shut doors to everyone trying to determine what I can or cant do. In my journey of hard work, I've realized recognition doesn't come easy and neither is it built in one day but rather it's a series of sacrifices made over time with patience, honesty and endurance. I'm not close to where I ever wanted to be but at least am not in a place I never wanted to be either"  (National theatre, Kampala)
"[4/6] We never really had friends apart from my childhood bestfriend and his brother we were too broke that eating off garbage was a luxury and taking unboiled water from a septic tank was no option but it was at this point that my salvation could be born unkowning. Having no friends confinded us in the walls of our house that was dark as early as 7pm and with no one to play with I resorted to telling stories that I narrated to my siblings just so we would stay awake longer till hunger takes us to sleep or we were simply dodging to take a cold shower. We couldn't afford a meal and the 100UGX I got off carrying trash wasn't enough to get something to eat or buy my ill mum who was on her death bed some painkillers. At the age of 8 I became a thug in a gang- I survived mob justice." (National theatre, Kampala)
"[3/6] When I was 9 I got used to listening to my mom yell and cry loud in pain day in day out as her feet rot. Then one day when she finally had a peaceful night I lost sleep because I had to walk to her room every 5 minutes to check if she was still breathing because it felt normal her living in pain than being at peace. We were too broke to afford panadol tablets of about 50 UGX by then. At that point parents had forbidden their kids from playing with us because they thought we would infect them with whatever sickness my mom had suffered for over 8 months" (National theatre, Kampala)