14 Years Old
My parents died because of HIV/AIDS. Three years ago, when I was 11 years old, my aunt took me to another country to find work to help my two sisters and my grandmother back home. She promised me that I would have a good life and go to school and work at the same time.
In this new country, my life changed. I was forced to traffic alcohol from place to place. Many times I was arrested by police, and they took the alcohol package. Each time I was released, I would go to the host home of the person I worked for. She would starve me the whole day as punishment because I was not able to dodge the police. All this time, my aunt was nowhere to be seen. I asked my host mama about going to school, but she said no. The third time I asked, she poured hot water on me and burnt my legs.
Last year when Covid 19 came, some people came to our house to teach the Great Child class. Our host mama was not around that day. This was the first time I was allowed to speak about myself without being judged as a foreigner. Every child in the class gave me feedback on how great I am. I felt I could face my fears. This session created a totally new me. It gave me the power to modify who I am, how I behave and act. My life was completely reworked and made new again.
Later, I decided to go to a nearby school that opened. I explained my situation and was admitted. They placed me in a children's home and traced my family, and sometimes they give me a chance to call. I am a new leader in this home and also in charge of mentoring seven children to become the best they can be. I formed champions of I'm A Great Child. These young people are agents of change, speak positively about themselves and others, and form great child classes and train. I believe that children need love and protection.
13 Years Old
Four years ago, when I was 9 years old, my father raped me. I tried explaining this to my mother, but she would not listen. I have kept this a secret in my life. I thought the world is cruel and no one cares. I lost trust and hope. Someone from Great Child visited our house and taught us children and my mother about how great every child is. After class, I gained courage and shared the same childhood experience with my mama. My mama believed me for the first time. I saw tears rolling down her cheek. My tears rolled too. We hugged each other, and she said, forgive me, my daughter.
I felt calm and peace flow in my blood. I wished my father was here to see this, but he died in a road accident. This one class helped me heal my emotional wounds. I have forgiven my parents. I want to attend more Great Child classes when schools reopen. And I want to be a champion of change to help other girls.
11 Years Old
During covid, many families have no food. My mother decided to sell me off for marriage to a 45 yr—old man. For two months, I stayed in his house as his wife.
During this time, children in the Great Child class were meeting and did not see me. They decided to look for me, and elders in the village found out. They told the chief of the area who went to my mum's house.
The children found me at the man's house and took me to my mum's. The children and the chief talked to her. Now I am not married and am back at school. I am among the few who sat for national exams in my grade. I would like to be a human rights defender, especially for girls' rights.
12 Years Old
My caregiver planed for a traditional female genital cut in me. I was afraid and sad, knowing what was awaiting me. I shared the sad news with my best friend. She reminded me to look at myself and recognize how great I am.
I remember our previous Great Child classes, and those children gave me wonderful comments about how brave, strong, and caring I am.
My friend and I went to a children's officer to report my case. On our way, two other members from Great Child joined us. The officer was good. He wrote a lot on paper and called my caregiver. My caregiver promised not to take me for a cut.
I am happy that children in the Great Child club had taught me to stand up for myself and others and to defend my rights and the rights of other children. Because of my story, many children come to me for advice. They share their stories. I help them but also send them to join the Great Child class. I feel like I am a champion for children.
9 Years Old
My parents died. No one played with me because I had open wounds, vomiting, and diarrhea. I did not take my drugs every day because I heard big people say that I will die anyway.
Then I joined the Great Child program in my school. I felt loved because they said what was great about me. I never knew that.
After classes, they asked me to walk home with them.
One day I was walking to the hospital, and a girl went with me. She talked to me about taking care of myself.
I started to wash my wounds. I took my drugs every day. Now the doctors smile and say, I am doing good.
I feel happy when I get to the school gate. I have many caring friends, and I love them too.
10 Years Old
Every time I get in front of a group to speak, my body feels weird. And I stutter because I'm afraid people will laugh and talk about me.
For the first time, I did not stutter because of the connections in this class, and everyone made me feel good about speaking. He later reported that he had not stuttered since.
10 Years Old
My parent hit me often because I made many small mistakes. When I got hit, I went to school and hit other children. Then teachers hit me.
I did the what makes me happy activity: I said sun, music, friends, rain. What I learned is that I have to make myself happy.
I asked my parent to correct me when I make a mistake instead of hitting me; last week, I got pinched only once. Before, it was daily. I don't hit other children. Teachers don't hit me.
One year later: In a class of 32 students, the boy was #22, now he is #7. Teachers gave him a leadership position because of his tremendous behavior improvement and his good character in correcting and helping other children. He started a Great Child Program in his school.
14 Years Old
"I was very quiet and could not speak for myself. Now I am Head Prefect in my school, leading 825 students. I give speeches. And I work for peace in my community. My courage and skills are a result of joining Great Child, which makes children have voices and be heard."
11 Years Old
I did not know how to read and write. I used to skip school, and if I went, I could escape because nothing seemed interesting.
When I joined the Great Child program, it gave me all the reasons to stay in school. The program has helped me to know how to read and write and to become a leader. I feel happy now. I am a school prefect.