“Re-entry of Child mothers in School, Making it Happen!”

On 22 July 2014 the first Girl Summit was held co-hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. The delegation in Uganda Government was led by the Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, attended by the Permanent Secretary MGLSD and Civil Society. Uganda was among the different Governments that made commitments by signing the Girl Summit Charter to end FGM, Child and Forced Marriage.

Following the July 2014 summit, DFID Office in Uganda initiated a Post Girl Summit Event in Kampala on 22nd January 2015 which brought together about 100 categories of girls from rural and urban areas into a dialogue to create a platform for the young girls to voice out issues and testify challenges they face including FGM, early pregnancy and child marriages among others. The event coincided with the visit to Uganda of Ms. Joy Hutcheon, the DFID Director General of Programmes from UK who interacted with the girls to understand more deeply the specific challenges faced by the girls an d hear from them.
Dissemination of the Girls’ Summit Charter re-affirmed Uganda’s commitments at the July 2014 and also drew public attention to the problem of FGM, forced and child marriage in Uganda, increased public and media debate on these practices. Three girls from Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation( Anna 18years, Consolate, 15 and Jolly 23 years ) represented the girls from Nebbi district. These girls including other girls from Karamoja, Kampala were fully engaged in this dialogue and they shared testimonies of their experiences in regards to early/teenage pregnancy and child marriages and how this affected her education and future life goals.

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Delegates at the Post Girl Summit

Dissemination of the Post Girls’ Summit to other child mothers in the rural communities
Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation embarked on a strategy of scaling down the post girls’ summit to particularly engage rural girls and develop action points on how best to address the challenges of Early/teenage pregnancy and child/early marriages in her districts of operation. The three girls from Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation led by Anna Anyimuleng were greatly inspired and challenged by the stories of powerful ladies most especially the UNFPA Country representative, the Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development and other dignitaries and the testimonies from the girls in Kampala and Karamoja. Having been challenged and given hope that they can still rise to their full potential, the child mothers mobilized over 25 child mothers to participate in this dialogue meeting and develop action points .
Two meetings were held at Owiny Primary School in Panyango Sub county and Angal Boys Primary School in Nyaravu Sub county. The child mothers in these communities presented educative songs on dangers of early pregnancy , poems and creative dances. They representatives to the Post Girls’ Summit shared their experiences at the event and inspirations from various powerful ladies and other young girls as well.

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Panyango -peer support meeting for child mothers

Anna, 18 years shared “I met girls like me and women at the Post Girl Summit who helped me be more positive about life and challenged me to go back to school no matter the cost so I can have a bright future for my baby and I
Young mothers make resolutions and Call to action
During the meeting the child mothers resolved the following:
They all decided to return to school in 2015 to complete their education levels. However with lack of school fees ,the goal of school re-entry was farfetched. their major challenge was school fees but because they are very determined to re-turn to school they developed the following strategies
• Each of the girls committed themselves to raise 50,000shs of the 250,000shs of the school fees and meet the registration requirements
• They officially signed up as the first TMF peer support group, as a team they planned to do joint odd jobs to earn money to support their education and their babies (i.e. dig 1 acre of land for 70,000 UGX as a group)
• They also started a saving club where each member was to make weekly contribution of 1000shs to support them during emergencies and support their babies since all the fathers of the children had either abandoned them, denied the pregnancy or where not being responsible
• Use MDD as an advocacy strategy to create awareness about the dangers of teenage pregnancy, early/child marriage to girls’ education , health, social life, family and community at large.
• Carry out businesses as a group to earn during holiday time and enable them pay for their fees as time goes on.
These girls requested for support and asked TMF to reach stakeholders and well wishers s to contribute to their education. They have realized the benefits of education to their lives and family as well.
• The group in Nyaravu sub county started a brick laying project to support their re-entry into school. The chairperson secured land and each girl contributed 5,000 shillings to rent the land.

Contributions by TMF
1. TMF’s contribution to the child mothers in Nyaravur Sub county is water and firewood to help burn the bricks to support the girls return to school at the end of February.
2. Four (4) girls to return to return and start school immediately at Owiny P/S and 1 in Nyaravu S/C. TMF is supporting each of the girls with 90,000 shs ( this covers school fees for the entire year
3. The distance to the proposed school(Panyango SS) is about 4 km, so the girls have to move 8 km per day . TMF team noted that the distance is long so a bicycle fundraising was suggested to help the girls can cover the distance each day.
4. TMF to provide life skills training sessions, mentoring, training child mothers in making re-usable sanitary pads etc during holidays
The girls identified Ms Olama Florence from the LC women council and Ms Atim D. mother to a teenage mother to oversee and supervise their activities in the community.

How you can support child mothers return to school
The child mothers have come to terms with reality on ground, they are now aware that they need to be in school and complete their school to be able to look after their babies and have a better future free from violence, dependance and to have better health. They have embarked on strategies to help them return to school, however they are faced with challenges of school fees, long distance to school, lack of scholastic materials to support their education. They are now working toward making right through getting an education and skills. Surely for such a child, why not support them? We are therefore launching an education fund to support young mothers return to school.

We are confident that this campaign will incite thinking among various stakeholders, help us all appreciate and understand the realities/challenges that these child mothers are going through to support their decision to return to school.

Support this fundraiser by joining us on the 20th -02- 2015 at Emerald Hotel, Bombo road starting at 5:00pm. Together we can make school re-entry for child mothers a reality…