MAKERERE – The Makerere rubbish pits have turned into a source of survival for two street children in Wandegeya.
Shakul Mukasa, 14 and a 10-year old only identified as Peter rely on the rubbish pits of Makerere to collect boxes and paper, which they sell to get the basics of life.
The two boys are commonly seen in the rubbish pits of Lumumba, Complex and Mitchell halls and dustbins around the different Colleges on campus.
The two youngsters collect boxes and bottles and pack them into sacks, then walk to Buganda Road and sell them to get money for water, food, and clothing.
Mukasa narrates their story, explaining the process they go through daily. “Every day we collect boxes and mineral water bottles; carry them on our heads to Kivuubo where we sell a kilo of boxes at UGX 200 and for more than a kilo of bottles, we are paid UGX 500,”. Mukasa narrates that his friend Peter usually carries the sack of boxes since they are lighter.
The two young men earn UGX 4,000 on average every day, which they use to buy water at UGX 200, a mixture of ‘chapati’ and beans for a meal at UGX 1,000 and occasionally buy second-hand clothes. However, Mukasa notes that traders cheat them and are sometimes too rude.
Peter, the youngest, who does not know his second name said that sometimes people chase them from the rubbish pits especially in the Colleges. On such days, unfortunately, they collect little, earn small or even go without a meal.
According to Jennifer Magara, one of the Mary Stuart custodians, it is not good to have these street children in campus because of theft fears. She, however, says sometimes it is only human to let the boys be because they are looking for what to eat.
Shakul and Peter get a night’s sleep on the Wandegeya street pavements and shop verandas. Despite the two not being related by blood, they consider themselves brothers and care for each other.
Shakul was dumped in the Old Taxi Park two years ago by his elder sister as they arrived from Jinja.
Her whereabouts have never been known to him until now. Peter says he was dumped in Kampala by his mother and sister upon the father’s departure to Kenya seven years ago. Peter hopes that someday his father will return and pick him but for now, he finds support and a father figure in Shakul.
The two are only a portion of 2,000-10,000 street children in Kampala alone, according to Save Street Children, Uganda.
April 12 is the International Day of World Street Child, a day to create awareness in society for equal treatment and rights of street children.