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When I was younger, I dreamt of traveling around the world. I wanted to ride in cars, fly in a plane, see storied buildings, be on TV and meet new people who spoke a different language from mine. But all these were just in my dreams which I never shared with any one; not even my parents because they were always fighting.
I was only 6 but I remember my father beating my mother every night. One morning she told me that I did not have to go to school because we were going to visit my grandparents and we would be staying there for a very a long time. I never saw my father again but I was glad my mother did not cry anymore. She was happy and always smiling.
After a couple of years, we started getting a regular male visitor to our house who my mother later introduced as her boyfriend. She told me they were getting married and he would become my new daddy.
I was so excited to have a new father. My step father loved me. He also loved to travel. He told me very funny folktales and what he had seen in town and the city. On some of his journeys, he took me along and showed me places and things I had never seen before. I loved my stepfather.
One evening after school, I had gone to fetch water from the well when I had my step father call me. He walked down to the well to meet me and told me he had been asked to go to town urgently and wanted to find out if I would like to go with him. I told him I would love to but I had to take back the jerycan(plastic water container) home and tell mummy that we were leaving. He told me he had already talked to mummy and she had said it was okay we could leave. So we left the village with my step father. We took a motorcycle to the road side and got into a taxi that took us all the way to town.
We reached town in the night. I saw storied buildings, many cars and there were lights everywhere. I was excited. We went to a nice home with very nice people. My step father introduced them as my uncle and aunt who we will be staying with or a few days. I finally had an opportunity to get to live in town even if for a few days.
In the morning, my father told me he had to live for the village and he was leaving me with his friend for the holiday and he will be coming back next week to see me with mummy.
My stepfather did not come after a week neither did mummy.
After my stepfather left, uncle told me that my father had brought me to do their household chores and asked me to retire to bed early so I can wake up early to start my chores. In just 2 weeks, uncle’s wife had beaten me several times accusing me of not doing the chores right and waking up late. I went to bed at 11:00pm everyday and had to be up by 6:00am.
On Wednesday evening, I was denied food because I had not done the laundry well. This is when I decided that I had to leave and return to my mother.
As my uncle and his wife retired to their bedroom, I grabbed my dress that I had come in, opened the door and walked to freedom.
It was dark and I knew I could not find my way to my village at that time. So I curled up in the corridor of an incomplete storied building and waited for morning to come.
I was awakened by the voice of a woman who later introduced herself as Annette. She asked if I were okay. I said I was fine and was kindly seeking for help for direction to my village. She thought I was lost.
When I narrated to her my ordeal, she took me home for the night. The next morning we went to MIFUMI advice center. My case was reported to Tororo Police filing cases of a missing child and child abuse. Uncle and his wife were summoned by the police and my step father was arrested on charges of child trafficking.
The Police and MIFUMI helped find my mother.
I was so happy to see my mother again. I cried all the way home and promised never to leave without her permission. She had been searching for me for weeks and had reported me as a missing child at my village police post. My step father was with her all this time and did not tell her where I was.
My mother and I have moved to our little hut and are starting a new life. She sent me back to school. She is now more protective over me and looking out for the best for me.
I have made new friends with the MIFUMI Children’s Officers. They come to visit every month to find out if am okay.
I am okay.
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