Fiona was overwhelmed by the love she was shown at Kira Farm Development Centre - something she had never experienced before.
Growing up in a poor family, Fiona and her little brother were raised by their single father. Sadly, while she was still a child, he fell ill: ‘I had to ask our neighbours to help me push him in a wheelbarrow to the hospital,’ explains Fiona. ‘Once there, it was my job to feed him and bathe him. Eventually he died a painful death because I couldn’t raise the money buy his medication.’
Orphaned and alone
After her father passed away, twelve-year-old Fiona was left with the responsibility of taking care of her four-year-old brother. The two children struggled to survive for a year after their dad’s death before a neighbour warned relatives they were going to die of hunger if they were not taken in. Fiona’s grandmother took her from western Uganda to Kampala and an uncle took her brother. ‘I felt sad and worried having my brother separated from me,’ says Fiona. ‘I felt I could not trust anyone in my family as no one had helped us during the years my father was ill and even after his death no one was interested in taking us in.’
Whilst living with her grandmother Fiona was so worried about her brother that she decided to run away and earn some money so that they could be reunited. It was not easy and she spent almost two weeks living on the streets of Kampala before she found a cleaning job.
Fiona teamed up with some other girls as she was unable to rent a house on her own; the money they were paid was too little and she knew it would not be enough to reunite her with her brother. ‘Like my friends, I decided to get different boyfriends to help me buy food and contribute to my rent,’ she explains. Unfortunately Fiona contracted HIV and her health deteriorated. ‘One day, while working for Kampala council sweeping roads, an uncle spotted me took me back to my grandmother,’ she says. Fiona’s grandmother had heard about Kira Farm Development Centre and persuaded Fiona to go for an interview.
Peace through acceptance
Fiona had been sick so often she suspected she might have contracted HIV, but was too scared to be tested due to the stigma of the illness. However, on arrival at Kira Farm all new students receive a full health check and assessment. ‘When I tested HIV positive I was scared to death and didn’t know if I would be allowed to stay,’ says Fiona. ‘To my surprise, Uncle Joshua and Aunt Mary were so kind and they loved me the way I was. This love gave me a peace of mind. I realised I shouldn’t worry about my status but focus on what I could achieve in my future.’ Fiona was able to regain her self-worth throughout the course of the year. ‘By the time I left for home, I didn’t think of myself as a girl who slept with men for survival, but as a special and loved human being,’ she says.
Focusing on goals
Fiona has had ups and downs since leaving Kira Farm but is grateful for the fact she has never lost focus on how to achieve the goals she set whilst there. She secured a job at a restaurant in Kampala where she was paid £45 a month and after four months had saved £177. ‘I knew, with my savings, I could set up my own business and embark on the journey of achieving my dreams,’ she says. ‘I decided to go back to my home district, where it would be easier to make it than in Kampala because of the cost of living.’
Since returning to her village Fiona’s life has been rapidly improving. Thanks to the skills she acquired at Kira Farm she has set up a thriving hairdressing salon and a tailoring business and, due to her financial success, has been reunited with her brother. ‘I am now taking care of him and I am planning on paying for him to go to a vocational school next year,’ she says. Fiona is active in her local church, especially in the youth ministry, teaching discipleship. ‘Although I am spending a lot on rent and food, I feel so happy that I no longer need to look for boyfriends to survive,’ she smiles. ‘One day I plan to set up a place like Kira Farm to help girls and boys who live on the streets.’
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)