Father’s name: Kasongo
Mother’s name: Ntumba
Date and place of birth: Haut Katanga, 17 years old
Child’s name: Gradis
Date and place of birth: Lubumbashi, 26.07.2016
Deborah Bambi was born into a polygamous home where her father had three wives. Her mother was the first wife, and Deborah was her youngest child. In 2008, when she was 7 years old, her mother died from a short disease, so her family accused her two stepmothers, saying that they were the cause of her mother’s death. The accusations were soon resolved, and things returned to normal with the two stepmothers looking after all the children. However, her stepmothers began to mistreat the first wife’s children, especially Deborah, as she was the youngest girl and did not have a place to go.
One day she had a fight with her stepsister and was beaten by her stepmother. Deborah decided to run away to the market, where she found other girls who helped her find food. Deborah found sleeping outside very hard, so she decided to go back home but found that everyone was afraid of her. She was stigmatized as a street child and was accused of being a witch. They said that she had killed her mother. Deborah was then sent to her stepmother’s church to “prophesize on her spiritual status”, but they just reinforced the witchcraft accusation and that she had killed her mother. She was trapped, and Deborah was forced to accept that she killed her mother even though she knew that she had not been responsible for this.
From that day, she decided to remain on the street in the market, and after a while, she was introduced by other street-connected children to Centre Kimbilio where she attended every Wednesday. She stayed at the Girls’ Transit House for three weeks but found it hard to stay in one place. Deborah said:
“Everything was okay, we were eating three times per day, spending time with friends, visitors were coming to play with us but I was asked by my friend to not go away. When Maman Carine reintegrated my friend into her family I was afraid that she will also one day taking me to my family, just thinking about it, made me crazy because I had a bad memory about my family.
One day, they brought in the transit house one girl called Irene; she came with stories like how they were getting money in the market and how they had boyfriends. She also gave us the desire to be on the street again. As a group we made a plan on how we could run away and that was when our friends were having French lessons. I asked to go to the toilet, and after few minutes, Irene also asked and we jumped the gate.
We changed the market, we went to Matipisha market where we were no longer in touch with other girls from Kenya. Unfortunately, I got pregnant and I suffered with my pregnancy until I gave birth. I am back to reason and appeal to you good people to assist me so that I can be somebody in my life”.