Discovering a Passion for Helping Girls in Uganda
Last year I was looking at sites that particularly help girls and, by chance, I came several where women were advocating that girls should be kept at school and child marriages at age 13-14 years should be stopped. I saw a call for new marriage laws and petitions to stop child marriages on many sites that came out of Africa and India. One site touched me because the teacher/counsellor in Uganda was already doing her best to help girls in difficult situations. That teacher is Hope Nankunda Mwijuka, a mother of two girls herself. Her logo: “Books not Babies. Girls not Wives” caught my eye. https://www.facebook.com/GNBUG/
She wrote the words below in her blog. “In recent years child marriage has gained increasing prominence on international and national development agendas. Today, we have a unique opportunity to act on this momentum and accelerate our efforts to help change the lives of girls and young women all over the world.Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to understand the complex drives behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our interventions accordingly.
So many times parents in rural areas tend to give away their young girls for marriage in exchange for just a kilogram of sugar, a goat, a cow, some tea leaves and sometimes for salt. These young girls are then subjected to domestic violence, torture, early childbirth and many times girls have died while giving birth because their bodies are never ready to experience childbirth.”
I could see that I needed to be educated about this problem, but I could help financially, so I got involved. I talked to Hope on the telephone and found she was a Christian like me. This has drawn us together to support each other’s ideas. Her aim is to empower the girls, to give them confidence in themselves and I applaud that. She is totally motivated to help them succeed in life.
She writes, “Using an empowerment approach can lead to positive outcomes for girls and their families by supporting girls to become agents of change. If we help them envisage what alternative roles could look like in their communities, we can ultimately help them to forge their own pathway in life. Safe space programs can successfully build girls’ self-confidence and self-efficacy, which they need to thrive. They can provide a good alternative for girls who do not have access to formal education such as married girls. Having a safe, regular meeting place allows girls to meet with peers and share experiences which can reduce their sense of isolation and vulnerability.
Many times the parents to these girls need to be informed about the benefits of keeping their children in school until they complete their education. Once these girls have acquired the education, they can provide what their parents need for the rest of their lives. All that parents need is to practice some patience and sacrifice in the short term to benefit from the fruits of their educated daughters.” Taken from https://hopemwijuka.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/education-is-the-greatest-investment
I can see that my friend Hope looks to a better future for girls. She will be with them all the way. It is for that reason that I have chosen to visit her and meet some of the girls in Kampala in October. I would like to write more about the successes of this program and about the girls in it.