Apr 16, 2018

Young mothers gain a chance to live life as others

Moreen (20) and her 5 year old daughter Joylin
Moreen (20) and her 5 year old daughter Joylin

“Thank you for giving young mothers a chance to live life just like others.” says Moreen, aged 20.

Moreen is a primary beneficiary of our adolescent mothers project in Kasese, Western Uganda.  Over the last 3months we have been assessing the project's impact on primary beneficiaries, mostly in their communities and sometimes at school, to those who have been encouraged to join school again, after dropping out some time back.

Generally, there has been a big, positive change in their lives, both socially and economically. Their social status has improved through their own high self-esteem and a reduction in stigma. Membership of saving groups and active engagement in their own businesses has led to financial independence which has greatly changed the attitudes of young mothers themselves and other people towards them.

In our case study this month, we bring Moreen, a young mother from Munkunyu Sub County. Moreen, aged 20 years is a school dropout and a mother of one child.  She is a victim of gender inequality and domestic violence right back from her early years at her parent’s home. Moreen dropped out of school in the second year of senior school, after her mother divorced due to the polygamous and alcoholic behaviour of her father. 

Moreen tells us, “My stepmother kept me at home to do housework and babysitting the young children. This kept me busy most of school days and I missed a lot in class.  This led to poor performance and my father stop paying my fees.  Life became completely difficult when my father lost his job and the family depended on the small business run by the stepmother.  This gave her all powers to do anything against my education.”

As a result Moreen was denied most essential needs, something that made her look at men as a good alternative to get what she missed at home, though she regrets that it was short lived and temporary, saying “I wish I had known.”  Moreen became pregnant at an early age of 15 years.  With a child of 5 years now, she lives a single life with her mother, after she was chased out of her father’s home when she became pregnant.

Moreen told us that, “Life has slowly changed and the future seems to be bright,” adding that Hope came as a result of the trainings and knowledge I got from the workshops organised by Act4Africa and being encouraged to join the saving groups.” She told us that “Even my mother was a beneficiary in the wider community program.”  Moreen has teamed up with her mother and, through small loans acquired from their Act4Africa saving group, runs a small business selling fruit (pineapples, oranges and mangoes) alongside the Uganda-Congo highway in the trading centre of her village. She said “The business is doing well because we are able to get essential needs at home and also we can access small loans to cater for emergencies which was not the case before.”

With the knowledge acquired through actively participating in the training, Moreen says she has been empowered and is now saving little money from the business with a plan of joining school again. After senior school she hopes to join a vocational course like tailoring or hairdressing, such that she can fully support her family. Moreen also hopes to further train in beading, so she can make small bags for sale to boast her income.

Moreen concluded, “The project has greatly changed my life.  It is bringing me hope as a young mother. Thank you for giving young mothers chance to live life just like others.”

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Jan 17, 2018

Field Report: Adolescent Mothers in rural Uganda

Abius and her child
Abius and her child

This month I bring you the story of Abius, aged 18: a young, single mother of one who has joined the Act4Africa adolescent mothers’ program in Kasese.

Abius tells us, “I dropped out of school aged 13 years. I was a victim of domestic violence that led to my parents’ divorce. I was brought up by my stepmother in a very harsh way and forced to leave school. I lacked essential basic needs, such as sanitary towels, and had no way out, other than being sexually active with boys who would promise me a better life - though this added more problems into my life.”

Abius got pregnant and gave birth at the age of 16years.  The father denied responsibility and her parents sent her out of their home. Life was miserable for Abius, who moved to stay with her peasant grandmother and brought her child into a harsh financial situation.

Abius today says, “I am not the same girl of that time because of the training by Act4Africa. I am now empowered and have gained hope and self-esteem. My early suffering was due to lack of knowledge and poverty. I am now an active member of Kirembe adolescent mothers’ saving group, where I save the little money I get from laboring in people’s gardens. I am hoping to get a loan from the savings group in March and start up my own business in the market.” Abius says “The financial knowledge I have gained has been a great turning point in my life because it has empowered me economically and given me a position in my community.”

Abius adds, “The sexual/reproductive health education answered many unanswered questions for me regarding my social life.  I will never get unwanted pregnancy again because I feel able to negotiate condom use.”

My last report on the Adolescent Mothers project, brought you the story of Lorene, who, last October took a loan from her savings group and started a food vending business. She has already managed to pay off the loan with a small interest.  At Christmas she managed to buy herself and her child clothes from her savings and she is now able to get a few necessities at home, something that was impossible before joining the group. Lorene plans to continue saving in the group and to get another loan in February to expand the business during the cotton harvesting season. 

Since my last report, follow up visits have been made across all sub-counties of operations. We have found that members are organised well in their groups, with an aim to save and get small loans for business start-up, share health knowledge and practice kitchen gardening to improve livelihoods and the nutrition of their families.

Thanks to the support of GlobalGiving and donations received there are now 8 active saving groups of young mothers and female community members, across 3 sub-counties of Kasese district.  For Abius, Lorene and many other young women, “Life has really changed.”

Please help us continue our progress with these young women and change more lives by setting up a recurring monthly donation to A Brighter Future for 65,000 girls through GlobalGiving.

Loren and her customers
Loren and her customers

Links:

Oct 17, 2017

Case Studies for adolescent mothers in Uganda

Meet Lorene
Meet Lorene

Meet Lorene

Lorene left school at the age of 13 and she is now a 17 year old married mother of one child.

Lorene's husband is a Boda Boda rider (giving lifts on a motorbike for money) but his income provides less than half of the family's basic needs.

Lorene said, "I joined an Act4Africa savings group of 20 young mothers and as a result of the financial knowledge I received I started to think about savings and how to start a business. I shared ideas with the group and my mother-in-law and she helped me to save small amounts of money. I managed to get a loan of 85,000 Ugandan Shillings (~£18) from the savings group and used that to start a small food vending business, cooking and selling hot food. The business is doing well and I am working hard to pay back the loan with some of the money I am making.

My husband's attitude towards me has changed since I started my business and our family is now a peaceful one. My husband used to be unkind towards me because I had to depend on him for everything, and this made me unhappy. At one stage I wanted a divorce because I was embarrased in front of my in-laws and neighbours, but now I think I have the beginning of happiness in my marriage.

Since I started the business we now have food at home all the time and I can pay for some small things without having to wait for my husband any more. We hope that the business will continue to grow to enable us to buy our own motorcycle for my husband to ride in future.

I wish Act4Africa and money from GlobalGiving could be used to reach more vulnerable mothers so they can change their lives socially and economically. It has greatly changed my life and I now live happily".

Meet Moreen

Moreen left school at the age of 15 and when she was 16 she became pregnant. The father of the child refused to marry or take care of her however, and she had to continue living with her peasant family.

Moreen said, "Life has been miserable and extremely hard since I have been entirely dependent on my parents for my survival and that of my child, yet my parents can hardly meet the basic needs at home.

I joined other young mothers for the Act4Africa training and felt empowered by the knowledge of sexual and reproductive health as well as financial literacy. I am now part of a small village savings group with 15 members which meets once a week.

The financial literacy knowledge greatly empowered me since it taught me that even poor people can save something small which accumulates over time. Most of my savings, to begin with, were from casual labour offered in people's gardens, weeding crops and cultivating land. By doing this I managed to save a reasonable amount that enabled me to get a small loan from the savings group.

After getting a loan of 50,000 Ugandan Shillings (~£11)I was able to set up a small business selling eatables at the roadside under tree shade. The business idea was from the finance training and sharing ideas with friends in the savings groups. Business is picking up and I am able to save most days and pay back part of the loan each time the group meets.

My life will change in time since I hope to keep saving and to get another loan to expand my business so I can support my parents and child.

I thank Act4Africa and GlobalGiving for the program that is empowering young mothers and the work should not stop, so that life will continue to be bright". 

Lorene has set up a food vending business
Lorene has set up a food vending business
Meet Moreen
Meet Moreen
Moreen has set up a fruit and vegetable stall
Moreen has set up a fruit and vegetable stall
 
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