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When Denis* was 11 his parents separated and his mother left to remarry in a different village. Denis stayed living with his father who later remarried. He was severely punished and bullied by his new step mother, to the point where he no longer felt safe at home. 

Denis thought he would be better off on his own and eventually ran away to try and survive on the streets of Mwanza.

It was a brutal existence full of violence and trauma.

Finding food and earning money was a struggle and Denis spent his days collecting and selling scrap plastic and metal or just begging from passers-by. He would often go to bed hungry and slept on benches or pavements wherever he could. One morning he was found by another organisation who sent him back home to his father.

Within a week Denis had run away again, having received the same abusive treatment from his step mother as before. As the weeks went by, this young boy was drawn into a gang lifestyle on the streets,  taking drugs and regularly getting in to trouble with the police who would beat him badly. 

He lived this desperate kind of life for two years before he was eventually spotted by one of our outreach workers.

We gradually got to know him and earn his trust.

Through one-on-one sessions he was able to express his emotions and improve his self-esteem and eventually stopped using drugs and started having professional counselling.

Our family workers talked to Denis about his future and he told them that he wanted to go and live with his mother. We were able to trace her relatives and eventually tracked her down. She had no idea Denis had been on the streets or that his father was no longer caring for him so welcomed him to come home to her. 

But she was struggling financially and could not afford to send Denis to school – so, thanks to your support, we provided the uniform and books he needed and helped him get back into education. 

He said:

I am so glad to return home and now feel like I belong to my family. I want to study hard and help my mother.

A few months later, we provided Denis' mum with a grant to set up her own small business. She told us this is going really well and Denis is working hard at school.

Now they can have a brighter, happier future together.

*Name and identity has been changed.