Memoirs of a Ugandan Slum Dweller: Part I

by James Tayler

Kampala, Uganda

**Cross-posted from The Age of Zinc**

I never wanted to suffer like my mother had suffered.

Life in the slums is hard, especially when your parents are poor. There are so many people in these communities and being together with those your same age you find that the groups can influence your decisions. Seeing people with different things you would also like you try to see how to get what they have. This can change your mindset and girls start to go for men when they are still young – that is the main challenge.

Slums are open places so anyone can enter from anywhere and at anytime and there are so many different corners. So when children are moving someone can easily pull the child in and use the child. It happens in many areas, but sometimes it is kept secret. The child may be going to fetch water and someone will grab them. They put the child in the house and rape them and then let them go after threatening them not to tell anyone. They can be young, like 5 or 6 years old. You may not see the child for 3 days and by then the evidence is washed away. But you can tell something has happened. For instance they are walking funny. It’s rare a child will tell you so you just have to take note of your child and see how they are acting. In slums you find that boys always use the girls. Girl’s lives are spoiled at an early age. You find young single mothers suffering with their mothers. The mother is a single mother and her mother is also a single mother with many children. It becomes a hard life. I would say that I was lucky; I didn’t look for problems early. At least my mind was targeting at the right time and I was focused on getting my education not men.