5 testimonials from children about how their parents’ alcohol use harms them and their lives; or the tip of the iceberg of alcohol’s social harm to children…

Dear friends and readers, I want to share with you these interviews with children from Kampala City, Uganda. Their testimonials are… and so I have changed the names to conceal the identity of the children.

A young boy, 13 years of age:
Alcohol is a problem to children in Uganda and especially in families, Tom, a young boy aged 13 residing in Nakulabye slums blamed the alcohol use habits of his father for not taking care of and provide for his family. Tom is the first born in a family of 3 children but claims that his parents neglected them because of his fathers involvement in alcohol use; with this summed up, his mother only takes care of the youngest sibling who is about 7 years but the other middle born and Tom have to somewhat fend for themselves. With this Tom has joined bad peers and he is now one of the casual laborers in the Nakulabye market, a slum in Rubaga division-Kampala district.
Tom is very remorseful talking about his father because he cannot imagine how “wasted” he remembers his father on several occasions when using alcohol; he does not even remember his children when he meets them, say on the way and or at home. This kind of neglect has cost Tom his esteem around peers because the peers always use his father’s personality against him and this diminishes his confidence and makes him sad. He does not want to take alcohol and when his friends suggest him trying or testing they tease him that when he starts, he must end up like his father.

A young girl, 17 years of age
Another Grace, a 17 year old female adolescent staying in Kasubi, another slum in Rubaga division-Kampala city district, with her elder sister. She blames alcohol to most of her early sexual health problems and those of her peers. She revealed that most of them were introduced to early sex under the influence of alcohol. She further still asserts that many young girls are convinced to engage in risky sexual behaviours, especially unprotected sex, multiple sexual and transactional sexes when under the influence of alcohol. Most of them therefore end up getting pregnant and sometimes some girls do not even know the fathers of their baby, others are threatened to be beaten up if they ever mention that they had that sexual relationship with a man. Or more still, when they find out that they are pregnant they risk to abort putting them at a more risk of death and other health problems and consequential death. Grace has sought counseling about the effects of alcohol use and is now committed to choosing an alcohol free life and becoming clean thanks to people at UYDEL centre who reach out to children and help.

Another young girl, 16 years of age
Sharon, 16 years, stays in Nateete with her mother. She has observed that most of her mates in the same age, especially the boys and some girls have become wasted because of alcohol and other drugs. She further noticed that even those who have grown up have been challenged by alcoholism leading to their loss of employment opportunities and increased crime in their area.
She believes that most of the thieves and robbers in the area are those boys who do not want to work but want quick and easy money; these are the ones that try to break into people’s homes in the night, steal house hold property like plastics and metals to be sold as scrap, and rob people in the night of their money. She remembers that there is a place that is known for drug addicts along the railway in Nateete and she heard that these boys can even rape young girls and women.

Another young boy, 17 years of age
David, 17 years old, has now no permanent residence. He ran away from home at the age of 15 due to domestic violence. His father was an alcoholic and used to beat his mother, something that he did not like at all. He became a street child though sometimes he used to go to his mother in Nakulabye and grand mother in Kawempe. His father’s actions led to his hatred of a family setting and now he wants to be alone by himself with no one telling him what to.
He confessed that on the streets, his friends introduced him to alcohol and different other drugs and he is now fond of the tot packs because they are cheap and accessible. He knows about the effects of alcohol but does not know what to do about it as he thinks it’s the only way of surviving the night cold if he has to get some income. He regrets starting alcohol use because sometimes he chooses not to use alcohol but he has always failed himself. However he thanks UYDEL for supporting him through the hard times and also is grateful for being enrolled for training in electronics repair as this has given him hope that he can do some modest job.

A young girl, 16 years of age
Carol, who is 16 years old, stays in Kawaala with a family supported by her sister’s husband; she dropped out of secondary school two due to misunderstandings of her parents caused by alcoholism of her father. Her father was retrenched from his work and could not cope with the whole experience and unfortunately escaped into alcohol.
Carol for long tried to show her passion for education but was frustrated by her fathers’ lack of interest in her education. Carol had lost hope in life and is stressed about her future. She has sought counseling and she has been engaged in recreational activities, life skills education, and stress management counseling to shape and refocus her goals in life.

These cases are really only a little selection of the fates that children have, due to the harm alcohol and other drugs cause. You got to read only the tip of the iceberg and I encourage you to get in touch with me or IOGT International, should you wish to learn more, have more inquiries: kasiryer@yahoo.com