Being on street in the context of COVID-19 in Uganda
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I conducted a study on the narratives of street children in the context of COVID-19 in Kampala city, Uganda. The study was carried out at Mengo Youth Development Link (MYDEL) in Mengo-Kisenyi Kampala, Uganda. The study was guided by both the overall and specific objectives. The overall objective of this study was to explore narratives of street children in Kampala City, Uganda. The specific objectives of this study were to examine meaning of COVID-19 to the children on street in Kampala city, Uganda, identify challenges caused by COVID-19 among street children in Kampala city, Uganda and assess the ways in which children on the street manage challenges attributed to COVID-19 in Kampala city, Uganda. A case study design and a qualitative approach were used to generate the required information from the study participants. The findings show that street children understood COVID-19 as a disease of cough and flu spread through air, a period of restricted movement whereby people were required to stay at home, a period of suffering characterized by police brutality and also as death. Street children reported that they experienced police brutality as they tried to go to the streets to get what to eat, difficulty in accessing food since they were not allowed to go on the streets which were their only sources of income through begging. Other street children who depended on small scale businesses such as selling of metal and plastic scrap reported that they were unable to sell scrap because the buyers were not working. Street children also reported that they faced a challenge of unhealthy environmental conditions, they never had access to new face masks and used to pick those dropped by people along the roads, street children also lacked information about the precautions of COVID-19 and therefore they used to imitate what others were doing. Despite the challenges, street children reported that they were able to manage the challenges, some adopted positive behaviours while others adopted negative ones. Some street children reported that they turned to God as their hope while others reported that they resorted to abusing drugs as a way of forgetting the problems they experienced. Support from the government, NGOs and the community played a key role in helping street children deal with the challenges. They provided them with food thus they were able to survive the COVID-19 situation. Some children also engaged in commercial sex while others resorted to theft as a means of survival. In conclusion, the study found that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation of street children. They lacked information about COVID-19 especially how it can be prevented. Sensitization campaigns should be conducted to educate street children about COVID-19. Further studies should be conducted because literature about the experiences of street children in the context of COVID-19 is scanty.