Sharon is 17 years old. She grew up with her grand mother in a family of 5 members in Mubende. The family consisted three granddaughters and two grandsons. She is an orphan and has no siblings. Sharon never had a chance to see her parents. The father died when he had gone fishing and her mother was expecting her. Unfortunately, the mother also died just after giving birth to Sharon.
She also never had a chance to go to school because her grandmother could not afford paying her school fees. She would stay home doing domestic work and tendering to the garden. Her grand mother always encouraged her to work hard by telling her that orphans too can have a bright future even though they have never gone to school. This forced Sharon to work hard and have hope for a bright future.
In April 2011, a friend to her grandmother requested for Sharon to go and work as a domestic worker. It was agreed that she will earn USD 10 per month and the grand mothers accepted. She was taken to Nsambya police Barracks and worked for Kagusa. Sharon used to take care of 8 members (2 adults and 5 children).She used to wake up at 7am to prepare the children for school and after take them to school. She also used to do all the domestic work like mop the house, wash utensils/clothes, cooking and general house duties etc.
Sharon worked for 9 months and was not paid salaries for the 5 months; instead she was battered, abused by the employer and their children.
Sharon knew about PLA when she escaped from home to come and attend the awareness session that was held at Nsambya police barracks. It was after this session that she knew her rights. She then and got the courage to report her case to Child Family and Protection Unit (CFPU) office which was forwarded to PLA office. She was denied the opportunity of being withdrawn from domestic work by her employer yet she was interested.
When the case reached PLA office, Sharon was forcefully withdrawn and kept under the care of one taskforce member until the day of placement. The employer was summoned, and she accepted to sign an agreement that she will pay USD 60 which was later paid.
Sharon enrolled in hair dressing course at Nile Vocational School for six months. She was sponsored by Platform for Labour action. She completed the hair dressing course in March 2013. She is self employed, braids client’s hair and earns around USD 5 to USD 15 a day depending on number of customers. She braids different styles in twist, pencil, wigs etc. Because of her skills; she is some times called by clients at their homes to braid their hair. She says, `my challenge is lack of money to buy driers and other requirements. These need retouch and treatment of hair for her to earn more money a day’.
Sharon thanked PLA for giving her an opportunity to go to school, withdrawing her from domestic work. Since she was an orphan and had lost hope. She further says that she can now believe her grand mothers words, “even orphans can have a bright future even though they have never gone to school”
There many girls involved in domestic work like Sharon in Kampala. These girls are abused and sometimes go without pay. With the help of well-wishers we will be able to empower more domestic like Sharon.
With continued support from GlobalGiving through “Educate 200 War and HIV/AIDS Orphaned Ugandan Girls” project. Platform for labour Action is currently giving 37 girls hope for a better future through education, despite the hardships endured due to the absence of their parents lost to HIV/AIDS or during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel war, by supporting them with school lunch, scholastic materials and physiological support in all aspects of their lives. The girls go to government owned schools in Lira that is Lira Modern primary school and Lira police primary school.
During the first quarter, PLA made home visits to the beneficiaries including those who had completed their primary leaving examinations to provide monitoring and career guidance and to further encourages them as they await results.
Below is a detailed account of these project activities in the first quarter 2013.
SCHOOL LUNCH PAYMENT
The payment for lunch the whole year 2013 worth USD 1,200, was paid to the schools. This means that the beneficiaries have school lunch for the whole year and they can now concentrate in class with have no worries of hunger.
The girls have been very appreciative of this step by PLA saying that they will not be sent away from school this year and will do their best to study hard.
SCHOOL MONITORING VISITS
12 school visits were made to the schools of for example, Elia Olet primary school, Adyel primary school, Railways primary school, and Sarvior secondary school.
During the visits beneficiaries’ welfare was discussed with their teachers and promised to support and guide the girls while at school. The school visits were made to ensure that the beneficiaries get psychological support from PLA. The girls shared with PLA Program Assistant activities they engaged in during the holidays, for instance visiting their relatives in the villages, helping their guardians in the gardens and household chores.
HOMES MONITORING VISITS
4 home visits were made to faith, Cinderella, Harriet, Dorcus, Monica and fridah; the girls were doing well and had their guardian`s support.
The girls had many stories to share since they had had a long school holiday and many were in their Primary School vacation after sitting for the examinations in November 2012, for example Cinderella and Faith spent their holidays in their late father’s villages gardening while Harriet, Dorcus, Monica and Fridah, they spent their vacation in Lira town helping the guardians with small household chores.
PRIMARY SEVEN RESULTS
This year we got the best Primary Leaving Examination results from the girls who finished their primary education in 2012. The girls initially had reservations on how best they could perform, but they managed to pass in first and second grade making it possible for them to join secondary schools.
These are some of the girls and their results Cinderalla got 7 , Rebbeca 10, Faith got 14 , Sitina 16, Sandra 20 a, Rachael 20, Harriet 20,Acio and Lonna 21 aggregates.
4 hospital visits were this made to Zaitun one of PLA beneficiaries who was admitted at Lira Referral Hospital. 15 years old Zaitun was waiting for her PLE results when she fell sick and was admitted at Lira modern clinic before getting transferred to Lira Referral Hospital.
Zaitun lost both her parents Hussein and Akullu to HIV/AIDS in 2003 and after a blood test, she too tested positive of HIV/AIDS. She is currently under home care where PLA monitors her to ensure that her health improves so that she can resume school.
During the quarter, PLA Program Assistant Lira counseled 23 girls, during the sessions; the girls shared their life experiences and aspirations and were encouraged and counseled on the issues they are dealing with.
The year 2013, we plan to continue offering counseling, providing school lunch and distributing scholastic materials to our beneficiaries. Other activities like school and home monitoring visits will be carried out in addition to organizing play days during the holidays so that the girls can share their hobbies and talents with PLA and fellow beneficiaries.
Rebecca is 17 years old and was identified through the annual door to door mapping of child domestic workers by PLA staff in September 2011 She is the third born in a family of eight., Mr. William and Ms. Akirot, are her parents and farmers staying in Okutu Village in Bukedia district.
Rebecca studied from P.1-P.6 (2001 – 2007) at Okutu Primary school, a government school in Bukedia District. During her second term holiday in primary six, She was picked by her auntie and brought to Kampala in the disguise of offering her better education. This did not happen as she started working as a domestic worker for Mr. Vincent, a police officer in Nsambya barracks.
After the mapping exercise and final verification, Rebecca was one of the children who were placed with Nile Vocational Institute in Jinja District for training. While here, she undertook a course in catering where she had the passion which was coupled with hard work. After her period of training, she was awarded a certificate in catering and she is now gainfully employed at Millennium Hotel in Zana, Kampala district. When our team visited her at the work place, Rebecca was happy to tell us that she earns Uganda Shillings ninety thousand shillings (90,000/=) a month, an equivalent of USD 35 plus accommodation and meals Unlike in child labour where she was not being paid for 4 years. Rebecca is very happy and grateful to Platform for Labour Action as the skills acquired have greatly contributed to her improved quality of life and she hopes for the best in future.
She prays that PLA continues helping children like her.