Watch Veronica Share her story
Veronica* is just seven years old and was one of the youngest girls at Bulamu, Retrak’s only girls transition centre in Uganda.
One day, Veronica’s mother walked with her out of the village and into some fields. Once in the middle of a field, Veronica’s mother asked her to wait there then turned and walked away, abandoning her daughter.
Veronica was terrified, confused and alone. She waited in the field for over two days with no food or clean water access waiting for her mother to return. Local farmers heard Veronica’s sobs and reported her to the police.
Like many of the girls at Bulamu, the police took Veronica into custody before calling Retrak to see if we could take her. Veronica was kept at a remand centre for five weeks before coming to Bulamu, a terrifying ordeal for a seven year old.
When she first arrived at Bulamu, Veronica wouldn’t speak at all – to either children or staff. She was angry at her mother for leaving her and wary of the centre. After receiving counselling, Veronica began to trust the staff were trying to help her, and began to relax into the setting.
Veronica felt her mother didn’t love her and that she found her a nuisance to be around. That was the only explanation she could think of for why her mother would leave her. She was too young to quite grasp her mother had been driven to abandon her by extreme poverty.
Life with her mother had been fraught with difficulties but Veronica was missing her little brother and, more than anything, she was desperate to return to school. “I really want to go back to school. My English is good because of my school, I study hard and I love it so much.” Staff at Bulamu worked with Veronica and her mother to reconcile them. Retrak is offering Veronica’s family ongoing support to strengthen them economically so that they are under less strain. Veronica is happy to be at home once more and back at school where she is able to fulfill her true potential once more.
*This is not the child’s real name