Brighter Futures for 65,000 Ugandan Girls

by Act4Africa
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Janet
Janet

This month Patrick Kigongo the Act4Africa Uganda Manager wanted to highlight this feedback about one of the girls benefitting from the project in Mayuge District:

My name is Janet Kyakuwaire of Wairasa subcounty, Mayuge district, aged 17 years. I am grateful to Act4Act for the great and commendable work they have extended to our community

I come from a polygamous family with a majority of both my biological and step siblings being girls. It’s a traditional norm observed in our culture that if a woman gives birth to mainly girls, she’s deemed an outcast and has misfortunes.

Based on this background, my chances of acquiring formal education were very minimal as my father found it useless to educate me. It took the hand of a good samaritan, who came to understanding my plight that she offered to take me on and educate me. However, I still struggled with my self-esteem and always felt I never deserved the best, and this greatly affected my overall performance and social life.

I am grateful for the life changing training sessions I received through Act 4 Africa that helped me have a self-discovery that has changed my perception about myself and greatly increased my self-esteem.

Through their Gender education session, I was able to demystify certain myths that culture still holds about the girl child. My confidence has changed; I now have the inner drive that I can make it in life concerning whatever I do.

And with this transformation in my life, I have become a model to my siblings who now believe they can also make it, irrespective of the cultural/ traditional barriers.

Long live Act 4 Africa for the impactful and life changing sessions to the girl child!

Prossy at school
Prossy at school

Last month I had the opportunity to visit our project work in Mayuge District, Uganda.

I was delighted to meet Prossy who is one of the sponsored peer educators supported by Act4Africa. She is 16 years old now. She lives with her aunt and the family of six sleep on the floor in one tiny room in a small hovel. She walks to school for two hours each way and asked if she could move school to attend a boarding school. The village situation is high risk for a vulnerable teenage girl as there are several male drinking places she has to pass each day. She is a very keen to complete her education and enjoys teaching the other pupils about HIV risks. She knows about this first hand as her aunt is HIV positive and her uncle died of HIV/AIDS related disease.

I also visited a number of the womens groups which we have started in the area. These were quite inspirational. The group in the photograph below had opened their own bank account and had over 600,000 ugs saved. I also saw several examples of successful women’s group small scale enterprises from the project. I also met Olivia who was a superb example of young female leader. Although she is only 17 years old she had saved enough to be able to buy two cows. Another  group in Kitovu Village had opened a bank account and had more than 1m ugs saved. Previously these young woemn never had any surplus cash. Other examples of small enterpsies they have started include hairdressing, cooperative maize field and vegetable selling.

 We hope to be able to explain more fully about what a difference we have been able to make with your support over the last 12 months in our next field report.

 

Prossy & Aunt at home
Prossy & Aunt at home
Womens group Malongo
Womens group Malongo
small scale enterprise
small scale enterprise
Rebecca
Rebecca

Its always humbling to learn of the impact that our project work can have. For young women like Rebecca  from Mayuge in Uganda it may be the first time they are able to discuss and share life skills.

Rebecca is 21 and recently attended a group training session conducted by Act4Africa:

“I don’t remember at any one time when my parents consulted me about any decisions related to either our family or myself. I have grown up used to the notion of my parents and relatives making decisions for me. Thus I have been in a position with no confidence to make certain decisions about my life.

However, Act4Africas training has empowered me to make informed and independent decisions on my own without letting anyone decide for me. Besides, I have been assisted to develop my personal goals that I should aim to work towards achieving them.

From today, I have now started to value my own self and am going to reach out to my fellow girls who have not be part of this training. It’s high time we girls took full and complete control of lives. This would be one way to prove to the world that we have what it takes to participate in all decisions and activities that make our lives better off, even more as compared to boys”.

The Act4Africa project team in Eastern Uganda had a brief break over the Christmas period but are now back in the field again and looking forward to a very productive 2016 .

Juliet training other young women in the community
Juliet training other young women in the community

Juliet is one of the "change agents" community mentors who Act4Africa have trained to reach other young women.

Juliet says: 

“I feel blessed to have been part of the training conducted by Act4africa. I   come from a family where it is sort of a taboo, for parents to speak to us about certain things especially things to do with sexuality.

As a girl, no one, not even my mother had ever opened up to me about facts to do with sex and life. So many other girls out there are the same. Because of that, it has always been hard for me to think about myself in terms of making informed decisions. This lack of information always makes us as girls, naive, innocent and eventually manipulated by men.

I have learned as a girl that I should have a goal to focus on and resist unhealthy exploits by men. My self-esteem and self-confidence have been built and I feel empowered to face certain challenges of the world especially girl related challenges like early/child pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, Manipulation by men, Inequality between boys and girls including access to information and rights  ”.

The things I have learned are worthy of sharing with others girls and I want to be an agent of change and speak with other girls. I also want to acknowledge the great change being done amongst us.

Brenda sharing a moment with other young mothers
Brenda sharing a moment with other young mothers

I love to hear how the work we do makes a difference to young lives so it was really great to get this recent feedback from our Ugandan girls and young womens project. Brenda is one of our Community Mentors and is active in her area as an "agent for change".This is her story:

“I am proud to have been part of the training organised by Act4africa. Impregnated at an early age, I thought all my dreams had been shattered and I would never be able to pursue my career again”.

Every one judged me for having got pregnant at such an early age when I was still at school. But through Act4Africa training, I was encouraged and consequently I was able to enroll back at school.I have been able to set my goals straight again and this time am more committed to working towards them without being deceived by any person whether men or my peers.

And as a teenage mother, I want to be an agent of change for other young girls and mothers in my community through training them about realities of their lives and encourage girls who have gone through similar situations as mine to forget their past mistakes rather use them as lessons for their future

“You realize majority of us make mistakes because we are innocent about our sexual lives or we have never been told about certain things concerning our lives by our parents or people around us. I want to give a better chance to young girls and mothers to be told the realities of their lives and I want to create more people like me in my community”

Over the next 6 months we will be training another 90 young women like Brenda as Community Mentors. We hope to bring you news of their progress in future reports.Thank you so much for your support. It makes a huge difference.

 

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Organization Information

Act4Africa

Location: Cheshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.act4africa.org/​
Project Leader:
Martin Smedley
Manchester, United Kingdom

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