Can you imagine being 12 years old and being forced to flee your home? That you had no other choice but to leave the only life you have ever known and start over on your own.
That is what Zuena was forced to do.
She was a child of the Ugandan civil war. She grew up seeing the atrocities that ravaged her country due to the brutality of the Lord’s Resistance army.
Growing up in the Northern region of the country Zuena and her family were at increased risk of being targeted. Zuena’s father was killed in the war and within a couple of year’s both her sister and mother died due to sickness.
She was left with no support and only herself to rely on. At this young age Zuena had limited skills and education, and seeking domestic work became her only feasible option.
In Uganda domestic workers are among the most abused and exploited workers in the country.
They work behind closed doors’ and due to the hidden nature of the sector; often workers are treated unfairly and disrespectfully.
It can become a very vulnerable environment to work in, as their roles are exploited. Zuena was regularly cheated out of money from her employers. Her work and rights were disregarded and this left her feeling neglected and un-valued.
Now, Zuena does not just have herself to support. She has a child of her own and is also responsible for her sisters child. This has placed heightened pressure on Zuena and her need to earn. She wants to protect these children from the struggles she faced as a child.
In her life Zuena has already had to face the tragedies of war, displacement, unexpected ‘motherhood’ and work place mistreatment.
Can you imagine having to find the fortitude to overcome these things?
Hopefully you will never have to.
But you can help us in our endeavour to protect women from these exploitative and abuse working situations. We have a project that works to educate women and their employers on working rights and creating safer environments for them.
To help us, and to find out more about Zuena’s story please tune into our BBC Radio 4 Appeal presented by Jo Brand on Sunday 27th November at 7:55am. If you’re not quite an early bird if will be repeated at 9.26pm or you can listen online anytime after broadcast.
We hope you will tune in and donate to our cause so that we can help more girls like Zuena.
You can find more information about the appeal and our work on the BBC Appeal website.