I wish someone had taken me in when my mother died

Stephen Ucembe, 33, was five when he went to live in an orphanage following his mother’s death. He  explains why these institutions are not the best place to raise a child. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

What you need to know:

  • When his mother passed away when he was just five, he went to live in a children’s home. While he got an education, food and clothes, the memories he has of his stay there are still painful.
  • Although I spent less than five years of my childhood with my mother, that connection and experience has given me profound understanding of why families and normal communities should gradually and intentionally replace children’s homes and orphanages.
  • While governments and other stakeholders make pronouncements of this statistic, for me and many others like me, these are profound stories, these are our lives.
  • We never referred to the staff as “mothers”, not that I wished to, we often called them by their names, while they called us “nyinyi”, you.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to grow without the love and care of a family? Away from the normal community, and what it feels like to grow up in a children’s home or an orphanage?

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