12-year-old son abandoned by parents, fending for his 5 siblings

Jan 31, 2022

Mukidi now takes care of Ian Mpala 12, Allon Bankobera 10, Joseph Buteraba 8, Amos Kyabajenda 6 and Yobu Magaya 4.

Mukidi (R) now takes care of Ian Mpala 12, Allon Bankobera 10, Joseph Buteraba 8, Amos Kyabajenda 6 and Yobu Magaya 4.

Tom Gwebayanga
Journalist @New Vision


KAMULI - From morning to sunset in the remote Nansololo village, Namasagali sub-county, Kamuli district, Musa Mukidi is tasked with handling domestic chores. 

Part of the chores includes taking care of his five younger siblings. 

He is just 12 years old. Mukidi has played this role of father and mother for his five brothers for seven months now, after their parents abandoned home following a marital disagreement.

Ibrahim Isabirye, 40, and Zeulensi Namukose, 34, parted ways, leaving their six children in the grass-thatched hut to fend for themselves. 

According to Mukidi, it started with a blame game that originated from his mother testing positive for HIV. 

Upon getting the news, Mukidi says his father got so mad, accusing his wife of infidelity, which, he said was responsible for her contracting the virus. 

This was in July last year. 

“It all started with endless fights before our father lost patience and left us. He packed his belongings and relocated to Nansololo trading centre, where he got another wife. He is now staying with his new wife,” he narrates. 

In September, Mukidi said, his mother informed them that she was not willing to “suffer with the man’s children” when he was enjoying new life somewhere else. 

She also packed her belongings and returned to her parents’ home in Kagulu sub-county, Buyende district. 

“We always heard them quarrelling and mentioning HIV and suicide before they left us. But we shall survive,” Mukidi affirmed, with a determined face. 

Mukidi now takes care of Ian Mpala 12, Allon Bankobera 10, Joseph Buteraba 8, Amos Kyabajenda 6 and Yobu Magaya 4. Their youngest brother, two-year-old Ibrahim Isabirye went with their mother. 

Mukidi is now referred to as the boss. 

He narrated his new challenges to New Vision during a discovery media tour organised by the National Forum of People living with HIV AIDS Network Uganda (NAFOPHANU) to highlight the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on people living with HIV/AIDS.

Slashing school compound in exchange for fees 

“I have a friend, Mr Stephen Makubo, the director of Oxford Primary School, who knows all our challenges. I always run to him for help, advice and prayers. One lesson he taught me is to live my life with hope,” he says. 

When contacted, Makubo said Mukidi is a bright pupil at his school. 

He says he enrolled him to study in exchange for slashing the school compound, which he started during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“He came to me in November, and told me his sad story of abandonment. I was shocked and provided them with some soap, maize fl our and beans,” Makubo said. 

A programme co-ordinator at NAFOPHANU, Leah Alupo, says she stumbled on the family during their joint advocacy tour on sexual reproductive health, child rights and HIV/AIDS. 

She said from the community engagements and information gathered, the parents abandoned home due to scuffles about who brought the virus home. 

“It is a sad story and a result of lack of HIV counselling services. We pray that the parents can be found and counselled to reconcile and return to take care of their children,” she says. 

She notes that self-hate, stigma and discrimination are common in communities and are associated with people who get to know their positive HIV status.

Results include domestic violence, death and suicides, she noted. 

Recently, NAFOPHANU launched the National Policy Guidelines on HIV, stigma and discrimination reduction interventions in Uganda. 

Alupo calls for child protection rights, youth-friendly services, provision of health essential medicines and professional counsellors to intervene.

Help and its problems 

A brother of Mukidi’s father, Peter Babalanda, says the children’s father is still so mad and threatens to harm whoever is helping them, accusing them of either having relations with his wife, or knowing the person who infected his wife.

“My brother thinks his wife was ‘spoiled’ (influenced) by neighbours. He would beat his children for coming to my place! Even my wife is not allowed to talk to his; he accuses her of “spoiling” his wife,” Babalanda narrates. 

He adds that even after abandoning them, he still gets information from his ‘spies’ about who has fed his children. 

Then he calls to accuse them of taking over his home, staying with his wife and bringing HIV into his family. 

The area vice-chairperson and secretary for children affairs, Mathias Akutandikira, regretted the development in Isabirye’s home. 

“That child is so innovative, creative and responsible. Mukidi is keeping his siblings together and working for their survival,” Akutandikira says.

What Mukidi's day looks like 

“In the morning, I first ensure that the pieces of mattresses we sleep on are brought out to dry, in case one of us urinated on them at night. I then instruct each of my younger brothers to do different chores, including washing the utensils, sweeping the house and the courtyard. 

I peel some potatoes, fetch water in a 20-litre jerrycan from the borehole and also take our goat to graze. It is my pleasure for visitors to find a clean environment. Many come here to sympathise with our situation, but get shocked to find a clean compound. We must keep clean to ward off diseases because if any of us falls sick, where shall we get money for treatment?” he says. 

While cooking for his siblings, Mukidi often remembers that the sauce he is preparing lacks salt. 

He then dashes to the neighbour’s home to ask for salt, part of which he applies to the simmering tomatoes with groundnut paste. 

When food is ready, he invites the siblings to the meal. After lunch, Mukidi walks 3km to River Nile, to do fishing in a small boat. 

“It is risky, but we have to get fish we can sell to get some money. We don’t have many gardens; I have to buy at least one kilo of maize or cassava flour and some eggplants for supper. And we can’t keep begging for salt every day. Fishing is risky even for adults, but they still do it,” he says. 

In the evening, Mukidi makes sure that they all go to sleep after eating something. 

“However, it is not always possible. Sometimes we lock ourselves inside our house on empty stomachs. But we are getting used to eating once a day,” he says. 

The house Mukidi is talking about is a tiny grass-thatched hut with a leaking roof. But he says he has planned out a solution. 

“I am working on making bricks to construct another one. We are making bricks everyday before we play football or eat our jackfruit,” he narrates. 

Mukidi is quite amazing. Already, he has bought a small solar panel whose power lights up their hut at night.

Police speaks 

Busoga North Police region spokesperson Michael Kasadha says between January and October 2021, Kamuli recorded 232 cases of child neglect, in addition to missing and abandoned children most of whom were due to domestic violence. 

“It is bad that the father left, but it may even be a blessing in disguise because the father, in anger, could have harmed the children,” he says. 

He notes that the most important thing now is to see how these children cope with life, get protected as they look for their parents. 

The youth chairperson Uganda Facebook, Miriam Mutesi, says: “The resilience and determination of the boy is impressive. We need to assist them.” 

The probation officer of Kamuli, Joshua Mboizi, says the issue was brought to their attention. 

“We are making arrangements to relocate the children to a safer place, where they can access food and education. We are still looking for funds and the place,” he says.

To help Musa Mukidi and his siblings, use any of the following: (Please use SUPPORT MUSA as the reason for the transaction) 


Step 1 Dial: *165#

Step 2 Select: PAYMENTS


Step 4 Select: MERCHANT CODE(NV3)

Step 5 Enter: PAYMENT REFERENCE (Support Musa Mukidi)

Step 6 Enter: AMOUNT




Step 1 Dial: *165#

Step 2 Select: PAYBILL

Step 3 Select OTHERS

Step 4 Select: BUSINESS NUMBER (600006)

Step 5 Enter: AMOUNT

Step 6 Enter: PAYMENT REFERENCE (Support Musa Mukidi)





Account (UGX) No: UGX 90 300 059 504 21

Swift Code: SBICUGK





Account (UGX) No: 01 056 106 904 00

Swift Code: SCBLUGKA





No Comment

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});