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Case Studies Boy freed from kidnappers is inspiration to peers

Boy freed from kidnappers is inspiration to peers

A seven-year-old boy has been praised for his dedication to learning despite having to overcome traumatising life events. 

Jacob’s* parents separated before his birth, and he was raised by his mother in southern Uganda. She struggled to make ends meet. 

Earlier this year, Jacob was kidnapped from their home. He was lured away on foot by some men who promised him a better life. When passers-by became suspicious, the perpetrators released Jacob and fled. He was left alone, hungry and in distress. Jacob was taken to a police station for care and protection, and they in turn, referred him to Hope for Justice. 

Jacob was recently reunited with his mother, who expressed her heartfelt thanks to Hope for Justice: “Finally, I can sleep peacefully knowing my child is safe. Thank you for saving my child from the clutches of kidnappers and potential harm. Your work is a beacon of hope for families like mine.” 

Jacob came to stay at one of Hope for Justice’s Lighthouses, short-term transition centres where we provide shelter, food, counselling and trauma-informed care for children who have been exploited, or who are at risk of being exploited. 

While children are staying at our Lighthouses, they can also receive catch-up education and life skills training. Jacob demonstrated a keen love of learning and reading. His positive attitude and behaviour made him a role model for other child trafficking survivors. He was voted by his peers as the most disciplined boy at the Lighthouse, recognised for his respectfulness, hard work and willingness to help others. 

One of his teachers, Michael Esalu, said: “Despite the challenges he has faced, Jacob has shown remarkable dedication and enthusiasm for learning. When Jacob first joined the programme, he struggled to keep up with his peers. However, through hard work and determination, and with the support of our staff, he made significant progress in his studies. Jacob’s love for learning is contagious, inspiring his friends to embrace education with similar enthusiasm.” 

During breaks in the day, Jacob would share his favourite books and stories with his friends. He would also encourage them to explore the Shine School library. His enthusiasm for art and drawing also inspired his peers to develop their own creativity. When asked what reward he would like for his efforts, Jacob asked for books. This humble request speaks volumes and shows his desire to continue his development. 

Jacob stayed at the Lighthouse for about one month. Meanwhile, our team worked hard to trace his family. We were relieved when we finally located Jacob’s mother. Thankfully he is now home safely. 

Michael said: “This mother’s worst nightmare became a reality when her child disappeared from home for almost one whole month. The agony of not knowing whether her child was dead or alive was unbearable. She spent several sleepless nights and days without food, her mind consumed by fear and uncertainty.” 

We were delighted to reunite mother and son last month. One of our social workers said: “The moment of reunion was pure joy! Tears of happiness streamed down the mother’s face as she embraced her child, alive and safe.” 

Another member of staff described the moment as ‘breathtaking’. 

Florence Soyekwo, Hope for Justice’s Uganda Director, said: “Team, thank you for returning this precious child to his family. The mother’s expression of joy has brought tears to my eyes. Despite the challenges we face, this work is worth every effort!” 

Our team will continue to have follow-up sessions with the family to ensure Jacob is enrolled at school and to safeguard him from exploitation. 

Michael said: “We are very proud of Jacob’s achievements and look forward to seeing him continue to thrive academically and personally. With his dedication and passion for learning, Jacob has a bright future ahead of him.” 

*Name changed to protect identity of the survivor 

young girl