Magazine article New Internationalist

Patrick & the Storks [Child Garbage-Picker]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Patrick & the Storks [Child Garbage-Picker]

Article excerpt

Patrick & the Storks

PEOPLE WHO SEE PATRICK BILUNGI (above) picking dustbins and call him a thief really upset him.

I tried to steal a watch in the market once,' he says, recalling his short, unsuccessful criminal career, 'but they caught me and beat me very badly.'

Fourteen - year - old Patrick came to Kampala a year ago. His father had died when he was very young and his mother left for another district. In Uganda uncles are cultural inheritors of a brother's children. But Patrick did not care for this particular uncle's treatment.

If I had had the chance to go to school, I would have thought of some other way to earn. Now? At the moment I have no alternative.'

From across the street, Patrick can be seen examining a plastic bag. He carefully covers his picking hand, with its chipped red nail polish, and begins. The bins he picks are also popular with Marabou storks. Kampala City Council last year ignored the birds' protected species status, and poisoned bins to reduce populations of the meter - high scavenging birds. …

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