TMF 2014!

Dear TMF friends,

2014 has been a great year, as we conclude the year we have some great accomplishments to note:

• TMF has grown networks with Plan International, AMREF, UNICEF, NETWAS and CEDAW Uganda. Through these networks we have managed to work with 55 primary schools on Reproductive Health and girls education
• We have joined international health advocacy platforms such as the Universal Health Coverage by UN and this year TMF amplified her teen pregnancy campaign reaching over 5000 young people and parents
• TMF joined the FENU network as a member and the Gender working group at Ministry of Education and Sports
• We hosted 2 talented interns who have helped us accomplish all of our activities this year.

Throughout the year we’ve updated you on our program successes, projects, conferences attended and plans. As we close the year, we want to share 2015 plans with to you;
• Our team will further the teen pregnancy campaign –Trailblazers Stay Teens campaign in the districts of Nebbi, Zombo, Pallisa, Kamuli and Kapchorwa. In each district we will target 5 schools and we will work with the district leadership and education officials
• The Menstrual Hygiene Management campaign will continue reaching more primary schools in our catchment districts and partner institutions. We encourage you to support this campaign, each school requires $750 to cover making of reusable sanitary towels for 100 girls, train 50 learners who will be peer educators, 10 school administrators and teachers who will be the school support system and 20 parents to support adolescents in the community
• Mentoring pre teens and teenagers will run all through the year at schools and TMF offices during holiday time.
• Hold capacity building workshops on Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights, education, life skills, career guidance and garages
• ASRH&R advocacy activities will feature in 2015 in bid to increase awareness on and access to information and services

As we look forward to 2015, we also want to ask for your financial support for we cannot continue to expand our program development and expansion without this help. We highly appreciate TMF family, ambassadors and friends who have continued to donate and encourage you to do the same in the year to come as these donations provide an invaluable source of constant support. The expanded program implementation we are anticipating for 2015 will cost us an additional $25,000. As we enter 2015, we are counting on your financial participation to help us increase our budget in this important way.

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We are working hard to prepare for a great 2015 and look forward to keeping you updated on our work.

With warm wishes for a joyful and happy new year

TMF team

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Universal Health Coverage day 2014

Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation is joining the rest of the world on 12th December 2014 to celebrate progress made in health and further hold our leaders accountable. The United Nations unanimously endorsed universal health coverage on 12th December 2012 and this year over 300 organizations, companies and health partners will stand in solidarity advocating for accessible health care for all. Health is a human right and a cornerstone of sustainable development and global security. How health care is financed and delivered must continue to change for the best and become more equitable and more effective.

In Uganda, civil society organizations have joined effort with focus on young people and addressing ASRH especially teen pregnancy. The team is chaired by Ms Joyce Atimango- Executive Director TMF, co chaired by Mr Kamya Eriya – Action Group for Health Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Uganda (AGHA who host the preparatory meetings), UWACASO, NFSC and CEHURD.

Why we stand for universal health? Because health is a right, not a privilege. Access to quality health care should never depend on where you live, how old you are or how much money you have…

For more information about this day please visit http://www.universalhealthcoverageday.org/en/


Increasing attention towards adolescent girls education

Young girls who enter their adolescent stage without preparation are affected by unemployment, domestic violence and can’t realize their socio and economic potential. Girls’ education is still a challenge; girls continue to lag behind boys in education and employment because they lack the technical and social skills to compete favorably. This is attributed to factors such as; late entry into school, low self esteem early pregnancy and child marriages. These challenges increase their vulnerability and affect their entire well being.  Girls aged 10 to 14 already experience high levels of vulnerability. Interventions that start at age 15 begin too late to be considered effective preventive strategies against school dropout, child marriage, early childbearing, poor health, and continued poverty.

Issues concerning girls and women are and continue to be guaranteed in various international and national laws, policies and conventions. Here in Uganda, our government is signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 2010 Dakar Declaration, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Education for All Framework (EFA) among others. In 2013, the National Strategy for Girls’ education was reviewed and a strategic plan was developed to address the critical challenges facing the girl child.

Therefore as duty bearers in girls education it is important to support especially young girls from disadvantaged families/communities to be able to realize their life goals by equipping them with essential life and economic/vocational skills. Starting with basic skills that ease retention and completion for example teaching girls to make a local pad or start and manage an IGA to cater for their basic school and personal needs. These skills will not only help them stay in school and complete but will also promote independent living in the near future and increase their representation in the gender just society.

Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation has a strong strategic emphasis on adolescent girls and aspires to support them as they journey through their education cycle, prepare them for formal and self employment through vocational and life skills training alongside mentoring. Girls education is dear to TMF, because when girls are educated or skilled, their families are healthier and they have more opportunities to generate income in adulthood. An educated girl pays it forward thus creating a ripple effect!

We each have a role to play in ensuring that girls go to and stay in school until completion. Let us invest in adolescent girls’ development, ensure that girls can go to school, stay healthy, and learn important skills that will help them break the poverty cycle.

Teen pregnancy: A child no more…

A child is a child but am a child no more…
My parents unaware but I am a child no more
I walk through the village, all eyes consume me and the bold ask of the “Mukisa” I carry for I am a child no more
I try to hide the secret I carry from the world, but each it shows. What will my parents do to me?
I am alone now, school no more and friends all gone…
With my mother by my side, is that enough? I am child with a child that has no father
I am a child with no more chances, education now a dream and a future not bright
I think, I wish for the past to change, so a child I will be but I am a child no more
Un wanted and a burden to all, my father sent me away, away forever for the shame I caused
I am a child belonging nowhere, a child with a child and a child no more…

Girls Education: I am the future and pride of my land

A girl is precious and rare, a woman to be and because of her existence you live
Oh my people do you ever think of the goodness she holds? Potential unleashed?
Then why deny her the opportunity to shine?
Let her shine side by side with her brothers, show her the way and encourage her
My people, my people…she is worth much more
Father, mother – give her an education, only then shall we reap good fruit for our land
My elders and leaders enough of child marriage, abuse and child neglect
Rise and unleash your wrath on the culprits
So misery and poverty will be a thing of the past
Her education concerns us all, for she is the future and the pride of our land
Educating our girls will surely fill the land with success!

Life skills: My experience as a mentee

One key session we always hold with boys and girls in and out of school is LIFE SKILLS- at Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation we find it important to build secure, confident and decisive young lives. These sessions are designed to equip young people with practical ways of putting the knowledge they have into use in their day to day living. We at TMF are committed to supporting young people and want to walk with them as they journey through life working to succeed both now and in the future.

I joined Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation as a mentee in 2013 and the first activity I was involved in after orientation and meeting my mentors was a life skills workshop. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do but I really looked forward to meeting new faces and making friends with other children from different schools. This particular workshop was facilitated by two mentors (Ms. Joyce and Ms. Elizabeth) and we had a guest inspirational speaker Mrs. Mugisha Grace Nanyonga a young successful entrepreneur with a unique life testimony. I greatly admire her and have always enjoyed her company for each day with her you learn many useful and inspiring things…

I and my number 1 mentor Liz- a friend, mother and sister.
I and my number 1 mentor Liz- a friend, mother and sister.

Our facilitators introduced us to life skills the special abilities that help us to go through life both in good but especially in the hard times. We covered skills of knowing and living with one self. I found the sessions fun because we did exercises and presentations, we shared thoughts on self awareness looking at who we are, our strengths, weaknesses, emotions, fears, background and culture; this session helped me understand how unique and special I am. We also learned about assertiveness a skill whereby you know what you want and why, being able to communicate it in a gentle but firm manner and being ready to stand by your decision, no matter what. Then we looked at coping with stress and emotion, we discussed how important it is to manage or adjust to different situations so we can prevent a break down.

Grace

We covered more skills that help us live in harmony with others, skills to deal with conflict in a more peaceful manner. And with skill covered I further appreciated my life, my friends, my family and the importance of speaking out on issues that deal with as we are growing up. I made sure I shared the knowledge I got that day with my friends at school and at home. I wasn’t sure the workshop would be any good but turns out I had so much fun, learned new things, started journaling and also looked forward to another session just like this one 

My biggest lesson for the day was the fact that I am unique, I am special, I am the future and I am change…

Hanging out with my mentors (left -right) Suzan, Janat and I at the 4th annual Vital Voices womens mentoring walk in Kampala
Hanging out with my mentors (left -right) Susan, Janat and I at the 4th annual Vital Voices women’s mentoring walk in Kampala

I am not sure if you have done the life skills session before, if not I challenge you to do so and also share with your friends. We all need to know about life skills. I wish you the best in all you do and remember to enjoy yourself while you learn or read about life skills.

Sanyu Kimberly Grace –TMF mentee

Boys and girls in primary school share experiences and recommendations on menstruation…

“A girl in my class started menstruating when we were at school; she was scared and didn’t understand what was happening. I knew what was going on but didn’t know how to help her so I told her to go see the senior woman teacher…” Jeremy primary 7

Boys and girls at the fore front- breaking the silence on menstruation in schools
Boys and girls at the fore front- breaking the silence on menstruation in schools

“When I reached primary six I learned of changes at puberty, I saw many girls miss school because of menstruation and others were simply shy” Emmanuel Primary 6 West

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“When I began menstruation I was scared, I thought I was going to bleed to death, I thought I was sick. When my mother talked to me I felt better” Sharon Primary 6- stream West
“I began menstruating earlier than most of my friends so when they started their periods too I taught them how to make a local sanitary pad (homemade, advised them not to miss school and taught them how to keep clean during menstruation” Christine Primary 6

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“When I began menstruating I wasn’t afraid because when I was 7 years I often saw my elder sister wear sanitary pads and when I asked her explained to me everything. I was prepared” Maureen

 

“As I was in class my neighbor a girl stood up to give an answer and I saw blood on her uniform behind. I didn’t know what to do I called the class monitor to help this sick girl. I heard she was taken to the senior woman…” 12 year old boy in Primary 6

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“When my period arrived, I feared so much and I couldn’t tell my mother what had happened. I kept it to myself until it got out of hand then I told her, she bought me always sanitary pads, told me not to fear because menstruation was a good sign of my growing up” 11 year old girl in Primary 4

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“When I began to menstruate I got lower stomach pain, back ache and I was very uncomfortable. I felt relieved when it all came to an end only to see the same things again the following month and the next…” Ketty Primary 5

 

“When I started menstruation, I was 13 years old, it all began one Saturday evening and the following day I had to go to church but had nothing to use so I wore all my knickers. The following day I wanted to go to school but had nothing to wear, my aunt who I lived with saw me and told me now that I began menstruation I was going to get pregnant, that worried me but I didn’t not understand why she said that. I went to school and during the English lesson I asked my teacher to help me. She gave me pads and even taught me how to use them.” Happy Primary 6

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“When I was in menstruation the first day I felt ashamed, I thought I was going to die. I thought I was pregnant.” Safina Primary 6

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