Field Report: Adolescent Mothers in rural Uganda
Moris Kabunzugwire, Act4Africa Team Manager in Kasese, Western Uganda, brings us his latest report on the HEAL programme currently running for adolescent mothers in the district, thanks to the Global Giving Community Fund.
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.”