This is Dorothie. Dorothie is an exchange student here at Hald International Centre this year representing CRO Mbale, the project I am going to be a volunteer at during my stay in Uganda. Dorothie had a very different childhood than me – a very different childhood than most of the people I know. This is her story.
Dorothie grew up in a small village, not far from Mbale in Uganda. Until she was four years old she lived with both her parents and her two sisters. At the age of four her life dramatically changed; her father left, and her mother was left with nothing except the three young girls. The stress this caused made her mother very sick and she became unable to work, which led to that Dorothie’s older sister, that was only about twelve years old at this time, had to take care of the family.
Dorothie’s sister didn’t see how she would manage to take care of the whole family, so she left. None knew were she went, but she went far away to work as a maid. Because of this, Dorothie, her mother and her younger sister had to look for other solutions on how to survive. They left the village and went to live with her uncle in Mbale.
The three of them got to stay with the uncle for some time, but because he had an extended family, he didn’t have the resources to help them all. One day, after just a few weeks, Dorothie’s uncle and mother argued, and that night she, her mother and her one year old little sister had to leave the house they lived in. They had to spend the night out on the streets.
The next day they got in contact with a friend of her mother, and she let them stay in her house. They stayed there for several months, all the time depending on the woman they lived with because Dorothie’s mother was still sick and wasn’t able to have an income. After some time the woman suggested that Dorothie could go to the city and try to get some work so she could help to get money and food for them. Dorothie was a good kid and did what she was told. She was able to join some kids going in to Mbale town to work. There they were cleaning shops, hotels and restaurants in the mornings before the opening hours. She continued doing this every morning for some months, and her income was enough so that she and her family members didn’t starve.
One day some men came to the place Dorothie was working. Dorothie and the other kids got scared; they thought they were either policemen or drug addicts. Then the men started talking. They explained that they were teachers and that they wanted to give them food, necessary clothing and education. Dorothie thought that this might help her and her family in their situation, so she came with them. They went to CRO.
At CRO she got counseling before she was placed in a rehabilitation class for a year. After that she has gone to primary school, junior high school and high school, graduating as the second best girl in her class. Her mother and her younger sister got help too, and now the two of them have moved back to the village they used to live in. There Dorothie’s mother wants to find work, maybe even start her own little business. Dorothie is going to spend the next year in Kristiansand here in Norway. When she returns to Uganda she hopes she will be able to go to the University.