Choices in life today come at a cost; it may be big or small but all alike; one has to pay for it. The thought and beauty envisioned in the city are the most provocative features of Kampala.
Kampala seems like a soft spot for the street children and homeless people.
Yet life on the streets of Uganda’s capital city is not easy.
As Naikiru Marita a mother of twins narrates her ordeal on the dust covered streets her tattered, her cracked and dirty feet and tension in her face; reveals a great deal that there is about living on the streets.
The 34-year old says she came from her village in Napak district because of the prolonged drought associated with never ending hunger.
With her two little boys, she came with the hope of finding a better life for both her and her children.
What she has instead discovered in the three months she has spent in the city, is despair.
Her freedom is not guaranteed by the city authorities who keep chasing them from the streets and taking them back to their home districts accusing them of theft and creating disorderliness in the area.
After a long day spent at Total petrol station next to Nsambya road in the scorching sun begging to little or no avail, she retires to the suburb of Katwe to rest with others of her kind.
The room is located in a dilapidated neighborhood which is so crowded with up to 40 people cramped up in the small house.
“We have to endure the circumstances we encounter in this place. The rent cost is so high we fear some day we will be evicted on short notice. We have no rightful place to call ‘home’ so we use the little we get to survive,” Naikiru narrates.
Most of the street children come from the districts of Napak, Moroto, Pader and many others.
They start their day very early in the morning taking to the busy roads to beg on empty stomachs.
The idea of taking a bath does not cross their minds even once.
Water and soap are the most sought after and most are rare to come by.
They stage themselves in different areas of the city like Kisenyi, USAFI, Old Taxi Park, Wandegeya and other places asking for even the lowest denomination.
These children risk accidents and harassments from the passersby and the passengers in the jam who chase them away, rebuke them and close their car windows in disgust.
Hailing from far away, they are faced with a big problem of language barrier as they try to blend in and communicate with people.
As I spoke to one of the children, she only told me in Luganda to give her just one hundred shillings at least.
These children master only the key words in Luganda which they can use to communicate when they need help.
Teko John says he has been in the city for one and a half years but try as he could, his ends didn’t meet.
Venturing in the business of collecting bottles from garbage heaps around the city for sale didn’t pay much, as days passed by his life become harder.
In his story, he talks about his excitement to come to the city to better his life, make some money and send back to his family in Moroto district. It was more of a dream than a reality.
The 19 year old narrates his ordeal looking frail and hungry with dry lips wearing a tattered overall amid frustration written all over his face. His only wish at the moment is to raise enough money able to transport him back to Moroto and re unite with his family and relatives.
The recent cases of kidnap have threatened these street children who live in fear for their lives and choose to move in small groups as a way to protect themselves from the kidnappers.
In 2011, Janet Kataha Museveni the then minister of Karamoja affairs announced that these children and their mothers would be removed from the Kampala streets and transferred to a home.
This has not happened.