In search of my long-lost father
Habida was forced to search for a father she had never met when her mother, her sole provider, was hospitalized due to a tumour. Her reunion didn’t go as she expected, and she soon found herself on the street. From her traumatic childhood to being a young mother, this three-part article series explores her journey.
Habiba is a 23-year-old Ugandan, mother to two sons, and my workmate in Dubai with the most charming extrovert character. Considering the difficult childhood she had, it is surprising that she is doing so well. Her strength is unmatched.
She is an only child who was raised by a single mother who separated from her dad during pregnancy. Her mother was the sole caregiver until she fell ill with a tumour, which kept her in the hospital for three years. She was only 11 years old in primary six. That’s when her education ground to a halt since she had no one to pay for her fees. Additionally, she now had to take care of her mother who couldn’t do anything without being assisted. By then, she had never heard a thing about her father. She didn’t even know his name or have an idea of where he could be. Her mother never wanted to talk about him.
A year after dropping out of school, her mother finally told her who her father was. This was so she could look for him and get support for school and other parenting responsibilities. She was given the name, photo and possible location of her father. It was the first time she had seen his picture. She travelled to Nansana and moved along the streets with the picture, saying his name to see whether someone would recognise it, but no one did. She had expected it to be easy because, according to her mother, her father was well known. A mention of his name around Nansana should have been enough.
When night approached, and with no money to get back to the hospital (which was now her new home), she opted to sleep in an unfinished building she had seen. In the building, she met some street kids, mostly boys, who gave her a warm welcome and shared their bedding and food with her. It became her new home as she would get up every morning to continue with her quest.
One lucky day, she met an old lady who looked at her with curiosity. Approaching her, she remarked that she resembled a man she knew. She went ahead and asked her if she was related to the Ssekajja family (the name she was using to identify her father). “Yes, Ssekajja is my father. I am lost. Please help me find him.” That’s how she found him. She was taken aback when she found out that he was a wealthy businessman. He was so excited to meet her and had no doubts she was his because of the resemblance. He took her home with open arms and introduced her to his wife and their two sons.
She was taken back to school and her life as a child got back to normal. Her father adored her and fondly nicknamed her “photocopy,” due to their resemblance. He provided anything she asked for, perhaps as a way of making up for the lost time. On Sunday evenings, he would take her to lavish restaurants and buy her anything she asked for. These acts made her stepmother jealous, and she started resenting Habiba. Whenever her dad was away, she would have her do all the house chores alone. In case of any slight mistake, she would be thoroughly beaten and mocked. When her father got back, there was always something bad to report about Habiba, most of which were lies and exaggerations. Her stepmother made extensive efforts to tarnish Habiba’s name before her father, and she won. Habiba was branded a troublemaker.
She would be required to do so much work at her age. Her stepmother claimed she was the only girl around and that girls are meant to do house chores. She was not allowed to rest or eat anything before finishing all her chores for the day. As a result, she got used to standing and working for long hours on an empty stomach. The only day she would get to sit down and watch television was Sundays when her father was at home. He believed that her daughter was being treated well but she was just lazy and loved watching TV a lot.
One day, Habiba was given her stepmother’s dress to iron, which she accidentally scorched. She was badly beaten up by both of them, who claimed she did it because of being denied television time. That was the final straw. She ran away that night and vowed never to return. Maybe she would have returned if they had looked for her and convinced her to come back. But it seems like they were never bothered by her absence.
In the next chapter, we’ll delve into her life in the streets and how she finally got to complete her education.
can’t wait for the next part
You cnt be strong enough till being strong is the only option🥺🥺🥺