Dotto* is a man who has led an extremely difficult and traumatic life since he left home at the age of 17.
His family were poor farmers in a rural area but Dotto wanted adventure and dropped out of school, making his way to Mwanza city instead. On arrival, he met some street children around the bus terminal area who welcomed him. He became part of their gang and joined them in doing whatever they needed to to survive. They were involved in stealing mobile phones, handbags and money for survival as well as drug and alcohol abuse. One day, the police arrested them for being found in possession of marijuana and they spent three days in police custody being beaten and tortured to give the names of whoever had supplied the drugs.
Dotto said: “Obviously nobody came forward to bail us out. I started regretting that I had ever left home. I have nothing but regrets over that time. We did some terrible things. I also remember an incident with a girl on the streets that I am so ashamed of.”
However, eventually a Railway Children project worker spotted Dotto on the streets and persuaded him to join one of our youth associations in Tanzania.
This is where he gained access to life skills, counselling and business skills training.
Eventually, he was given a grant to start a shop selling drinks and other household goods. Later he started another business selling second hand clothes.
Today, Dotto is able to rent a house and provides for his wife and child – a far cry from the desperate, out-of-control young boy fighting for survival on the streets.
Dotto says three of his friends from the streets were burnt to death after being caught stealing. He doesn’t know the whereabouts of the other two. He said:
If it were not for Railway Children, I would either be dead or in jail by now. I am now a responsible citizen. I pay my taxes and I support my family and relatives.
Help us reach more young people like Dotto who gained the skills to turn his very difficult life around and support project workers in Tanzania who are reaching and protecting vulnerable children and young people every day.
*Name has been changed and models are used on these pages to protect identities.