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Top News Boy, 13, writes poem to protect other children from abuse

Boy, 13, writes poem to protect other children from abuse

“Arise, fellow Ugandans. Fight child abuse.” These are the powerful and rallying words of a 13-year-old boy who was physically abused by his father. 

Speaking from his experiences, the young teenager has written a poem that calls on people to “say no to defilement, rape and child labour”.

Simba*, the author of the poem, was just two years old when his mother died. He was raised by his stepmother and biological father. But his father abused him physically and emotionally. 

In an incredibly moving interview, he told our team:

“If wishes came true, I would finish my education, and protect all children in the world from abuse, but my family is poor.”

Traumatised by abuse, and scarred by grief, Simba ran away from his family home in Uganda – choosing instead to live on the streets. 

His poem highlights the ways he has been tormented and “tortured” by the abuse he experienced. And how these experiences left him vulnerable to trafficking. He describes how he was “neglected”, “denied food, clothes, shelter, safe water and education”, and asks the question for other children experiencing abuse, “For how long will this be”?

Most children in Uganda have experienced some form of violence or abuse. According to UNICEF, 59 per cent of girls and 68 per cent of boys have been subjected to physical violence.

At a turning point in the poem, Simba references Hope for Justice’s work to fight against child labour, to involve the police and law enforcement so that criminals are brought to justice, to safeguard children who are at risk of trafficking, and to support and care for children who have been exploited.

Simba calls on his fellow Ugandans to “arise [and] fight child abuse” and states his belief that “together we shall have a bright future”. 

Hope for Justice firmly believes that it is only when we work together that our vision to live in a world free from slavery will become a reality. 

Thankfully Simba was rescued by police last summer and was referred to one of Hope for Justice’s Lighthouses – safe havens for children who have been exploited, or who are at risk of exploitation. 

When he entered our care, he was found to have a myriad of complex needs, including a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder (when neglect or abuse prevents children from forming healthy emotional bonds), depression and bereavement. 

Whilst staying at the Lighthouse, Simba has had access to holistic care. This has included psychological and psychiatric support, trauma therapy, education on child protection, and life skills coaching. Simba crafted his poem during a recent lesson at the Lighthouse. 

He said: “If people out there get the chance to read and listen to my poem, they will say: this is real, children go through this; it is teaching us how to take care of children’s rights (not violating them), that every parent should play their role in looking after their children, and that children are helpful at home and should be treated with care.” 

Simba dreams of one day entering the medical profession and becoming a doctor. 

One of the teachers at the Lighthouse told us that Simba is performing extremely well in classes at the Lighthouse. He likes writing stories about his past and reading novels as these help him to discover more about the things happening in the world. 

His teacher said: “This young boy has a very bright future in formal education if he is helped to achieve his goal. Today, Simba stands tall, armed with the tools of literacy and the strength of his spirit. His journey is a reminder that no darkness is insurmountable, and every individual deserves the chance to shine. With his newfound skills, Simba is determined to rewrite his own narratives and build a future filled with endless possibilities.” 

*Name changed to protect identity of survivor 

young girl