Cradling her child who had a cannula on his left hand while seated in a plastic white chair, a 16-year-old teen mother narrates how her life misfortune punched her into the Namuwongo slums, miles away from the only place she knew as home.
As our conversation hangs on I see drips of tears running down her cheeks to the ground, I can feel her pain, she’s a victim of violence, and her dreams were shuttered, I bring you Her Story.
“My desire was never to give birth at a tender age, the situation I was going through, however, pushed me to the extreme and so l needed someone to hold on to or even give meaning to my hopeless life.”
Betty Karungi (not her real name) is the only child of the anonymous wife of her ‘infidel’ father. However, other siblings had the luxury to at least share both their mothers and father.
The young mother grew up in stewardship of her partial aunt in Mukono Kigunga village as her father enjoyed the long business tours as a government contractor, traveling from one district to another but without that much-needed support to his family.
“Everything as a young child I was taught by my aunt, from the domestic works to my values as a person,”
“She raised me though not as her own but as someone to who she was related. No education or special visits during holidays but at least with a sense of belonging.”
As early as 14 years, Betty’s aunt could no longer take care of her niece, and her sudden change in character and urge to have Karungi out of her home became inevitable.
The teenage mother recalls that the change of character was stirred by a hajat who was a wife to their late uncle and the hire to the property where they lived in.
Hajat’s unforgiving character though had also been accelerated by Karungi’s father’s behavior especially when he attempted to sell hajat’s family land without Hajjat’s consent.
Initially, each family member was given their own property but because of his inebriated nature, he failed to manage his property well.
“Our father had shared his property Mukono Kibira among all of us kids, but then he would go behind our backs and collect all the rent money that was intended to help us out with our needs.”
Soon or later the father’s character also got him fired from his job and the situation went from worse to worst.
Karungi narrates that later on, Hajati convinced her aunt to also cut ties with her which she eventually did in 2020.
“I can not take care of the young kids at the same time taking care of you a grown-up, my aunty said, one of my other siblings had given birth and sent her kids to live with, she had gone abroad to work thus earning her favor.”
She could later find a temporary residence in favor of one of her brothers who only gave her a week to find elsewhere to live.
“My brother had a pregnant wife, living together in a small room yet his bodaboda job couldn’t sustain another person for long.”
“At the end of the week, l pleaded with my brother to at least give me two days since l had not found where to live which he refused.”
Stuck in confusion, Karungi’s mind crossed of her late uncle who lived in Namuwongo from which she decided to foot from Mukono to Namuwongo, a Kampala Suburb.
“Upon reaching his former place contacted my other brother Kim who lived in the same place Who agreed to help me out”
Kim took Karunji to an old lady who lived in Soweto, a Namuwongo suburb. The old lady agreed to shelter her on the basis of being their late uncle’s old friend.
According to the Laryngitis, what seemed a big break turned into hard luck as the situation at the old lady’s house was no different from the humble background she lived in Mukono.
She then at 15 years decided to move in with her then-boyfriend a young man she met while living with the old lady
“When the young man courts me, I had no choice but to accept because l needed money and l was tired of living myserably.”
The close intact relationship later got Karungi pregnant.
“At first l didn’t know that l was pregnant,l never knew how it felt like because l had never been there before, but then those around me noticed and confessed to me, which got me anxious about my next move”
“unfortunately proving my fears right, my boyfriend changed character, hating on me and my unborn baby. He buttered me all the time saying that if the baby does not die, it’s me who will lose my life.”
The boyfriend was not working and only survived on the little allowances that were given by his parents who owned a shop in Kitintale.
“Things became had until l met Fauzia also a teen mother working in an NGO that was recommended by a friend.”