Three-year-old Bahati* survived death after she was abducted then later abandoned in a pit latrine. AAH Uganda community services placed Bahati under foster care with Zawadi* to care for her and help seek justice with AAH support.
“I was at my home one Sunday when my children came running and told me that a child was crying in the pit latrine at the church neighbouring us. I ran with them to the latrine and I also heard that a child was crying in there. I rushed to call my neighbour to come and help.
We sent my children to get the village chairman who called the police Officer-in-Charge and we removed the child from the pit latrine.
After removing her, I brought water from my home to bathe her, and then one community member identified that Bahati used to live with a woman in our village.
The police officer called the AAH Uganda (AAH) ambulance which took us to the health centre for a medical check-up and treatment; we spent the night there.
I only had 2000 shillings [75 US cents] with me which I used to buy food for Bahati while we were at the health centre. She did not have any clothes, so I had to remove one of my lesu [brightly printed cloth] to use to carry her.
I didn’t know how or where to get support from for this child, but I was willing to take care of her.
After being discharged from hospital, the Office of the Prime Minister Kyangwali referred us to AAH community services sector. They gave me baby clothes, soap, baby sheets and a flask which took away my immediate worries of how to care for her.
But they did not stop only at that; they have continued coming to visit us regularly to ensure her wellbeing. They always bring more soap to wash Bahati’s clothes and sheets because I cannot afford it.
The perpetrator was arrested and sent for trial. On several occasions we went to court to provide witness statements to police. As I could not afford to buy food for us while we were, AAH provided lunch for Bahati and me so we would not stay hungry the whole day.
Information was circulated to other refugee settlements through the Uganda Red Cross Society about a missing child, and a Congolese woman came forward to claim Bahati.
AAH has been following this case the whole time and providing advice from their legal officer to get justice for both the child and her birth mother.
Eventually, the court ruled that the woman who dumped Bahati in the latrine was guilty of attempted murder, child abduction and trafficking and sentenced her to 10 years.
I felt relieved that the child received a fair hearing. However, we still need to know if the claimant is her real mother. The court ordered a DNA test to confirm who Bahati’s rightful mother is. We went to the hospital for the test and will get the results will back in two months.
Even though looking after a child who is not your own can be difficult, for me it has been made much easier because AAH community services has always been supporting me.
I hope that the test results come back soon so that Bahati gets to return to her biological parent and remain under their care.
Told by Zawadi to Nandera Manjeri, Child Protection Officer.
*Names have been changed