Fatuma

Fatuma 8yrs

Fatuma was the only child in her family. Her parents died in 2006 when she was two years old, and she was left in the custody of her bed-ridden grandmother who was HIV positive, and two alcoholic uncles. Fatuma learned to look after herself and cared for her grandmother by going around in the village asking for food to eat. She would even cook for and feed her grandmother – at the age of three!! – lighting a 3-stone fire, and boiling a sweet potato.

Neighbours in the local church learned about the situation. They tried to help, but when they brought food to the house Fatuma’s uncles would eat it or sell it to get money to buy alcohol. The neighbours tried to feed her at their homes. Her uncles stopped her from going out and when they found her at the neighbours she was beaten.

Rose Moon and Ham Wanjala, a Vumilia social worker, went to rescue the girl in July 2007 after the community elders alerted us of the situation. We found Fatuma feeding her ailing grandmother with two cooked bananas that she had prepared for her. The grandmother was very weak and sick and asked, “Please take the child, I’m dying and there’s nobody to take care of her.” She had no clothes except what she was wearing. Rose explained to Fatuma that she was going to a safe home. She whispered in Rose’s ear “Let’s go quickly before my uncles come back to the house.” In the car she began screaming, frightened that her uncles might come and snatch her. She sat on the floor of the car because the uncles might see her through the window. They drove the hour back to the Vumilia home. At the gate, Fatuma got out quickly and asked that the gate be closed and never opened, in case her uncles might come and take her.

At first it was very hard for Fatuma to understand that her uncles would never come to take her. When the gate was open to let people in she would start crying. But with time she settled in and her fears dissolved. Her poor grandmother passed away in April 2008. Today Fatuma is a very different girl. She has been with us for 6 years, very happy to be in the home and in school. She likes helping, and making sure that other children wash their hands before eating. When there is a disagreement among them she will always try to solve it. It is a great joy to see how far Fatuma has come since those terrible dark days before we rescued her.