UNGEI Uganda youth consultation meeting

On September 3rd and 4th, TMF had 2 mentees from Nebbi district join fellow youth leaders from other CSO’s for a consultation on UNGEI’s forthcoming Youth Engagement Strategy. The two-day consultation brought together over 20 youth from a variety of backgrounds to discuss how UNGEI can better include young people in its work to ensure all girls, especially the most marginalized, access and complete a quality education. The youth leaders were from secondary schools, universities, national youth organizations including the Ugandan Youth Coalition and National Youth Council participated on behalf of their networks.  The UN Global Education First Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group was also represented. The consultation provided an opportunity for youth to input into UNGEI’s first youth engagement strategy and to identify girls’ education priorities for UNGEI’s partner organizations working in Uganda.  The participants discussed areas of youth participation at the international, national and district levels and across areas of society including government, communities, schools, the workforce and religious and cultural organizations. This youth fora was participatory, participants brainstormed strategies for youth engagement across areas of UNGEI’s work such as how to increase youth participation in research and advocacy efforts, and in UNGEI’s governance structure itself. They learned how to engage themselves as leaders and also bring fellow youth on board.

TMF co founder Joyce Atimango speaks on girls education and health in Uganda
TMF co founder Joyce Atimango speaks on girls education and health in Uganda

This meeting had UNGEI Uganda members from UNICEF (the convener), Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports (Committee chair), FAWE Uganda (co- chair), Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Plan Uganda. Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development also attended the meeting. This in-person consultation youth meeting was the final stage of a six-month process to design UNGEI’s first youth engagement strategy. It follows a literature review of best practices for youth engagement in institutions and processes, an online consultation with youth on participation that gathered approximately 400 entries, and interviews with member organizations of UNGEI’s Global Advisory Committee (GAC) on their approaches to youth engagement and inputs on an initiative-wide strategy. The final strategy will be presented to the GAC at its annual meeting in mid-November.

UNGEI youth consultation meeting participants in Kampala- Uganda (September 2015)
UNGEI youth consultation meeting participants in Kampala- Uganda (September 2015)

At TMF, the 2 youth leaders seriously took on the action points at the meeting that when they returned back to Nebbi. Brenda is the head prefect at her school and youth representative for education at Panyango sub county level and Anna is the youth representative for education at parish level.

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Brenda (TMF mentee)

Anyimcol Anna 17years old, C/p Trailblazers mentoring foundation giving a presentation during a two-day, UN Girls’ Education Initiative Youth consultation where Ugandan youth leaders were engaged in UNGEI’s first youth inter-face strategy and education priorities to influence the UN Girls’ Education Initiative’s. UNICEF Uganda in partnership with Ministry of Education Science Technology and Sports and FAWE Uganda brought together approximately 20 youth participants representing the National Youth Council, Uganda National Students Association & the Youth Coalition Council. Youth with Disabilities, young women and young men, youth working on various aspects of education including crisis affected, the most marginalized targeting upper secondary or university students as well. In Uganda, the UNGEI partnership has been very successful at working with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, development partners, districts and Civil Society Organizations and the schools to improve equitable access to quality education. The youth engagement is to serve as an opportunity to influence UNGEI Uganda’s ongoing strategic planning process for the next 5 years. 4th –Sept –2015. ©UNICEF/Stephen Wandera/ KAMPALA UGANDA.

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GIRLS VOICES INITIATIVE/ LET GIRLS LEAD launched in Uganda

Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation (TMF) is thrilled to share with you about the launch of the Let Girls Lead/ Girls Voices Initiative in Uganda (LGL/GVI). The program run from 1st – 4th May 2015 at Silver Springs Hotel involving 35 adolescent girl leaders and 20 chaperons from 20 Civil Society Organizations. From TMF we had Lucy -17 years and Sanyu Kimberly -15 years represent the countless girls we work with.

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Girl leaders from TMF- Sanyu and Lucy

Let Girls Lead is building a global movement of champions to change systems and empower girls to attend school, stay healthy, escape poverty, and overcome violence. Since 2009, Let Girls Lead’s model – endorsed, validated and funded by leading benchmarking organizations – has contributed to better health, education, livelihoods, and rights for more than 7 million girls globally. LGL strives to empower girls and their allies to change the world! alongside their champions the team focused on key sessions covering Advocacy, Human Rights, UN structure, the Girl Declaration and the Post 2015 process. Session facilitators guided on issues to do with social change through laws and policies, gender responsive programming, and protecting girls from violence to ensure that girls’ access quality healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.

Girls identified issues which affect girls, came up with recommendations, shared their life stories and attended sessions on leadership skills to enable them speak out and advocate for change. Key issues raised by the girls included;

• Ending child marriage in Uganda through girl-led advocacy with support of leaders at all levels
• Promote girls’ health and rights through advocating for increase access to free, friendly and  quality SRH information          and services so adolescents can make informed decissions
• Reduce teen pregnancy by improving young people’s access to comprehensive education,
health services and demand for a policy of school re-entry for adolescent mothers
• Empower Ugandan girls to advocate for child friendly spaces free of sexual harassment

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Girl leaders and chaperons during a session

At Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation, we know that girls have the power to transform their lives, families, communities, and the world. We pledge to support our girl leaders and commit to ensuring that every girl goes to school, has access to information and services whenever they need to and learn skills to better herself and her family out of poverty.

The GVI program had girl leaders present the four key issues to the UN Women Country Representative, UNFPA, UNAIDS , UNICEF, FENU, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Gender and the media calling upon their support as duty bearers/policy makers/ development partners and allies. Positive feedback was registered as the UN Women representative welcomed the recommendations presented by the girls and pledged to work with and engage adolescent girls at different platforms to ensure that their voices are heard.

Together let’s amplify girls voices…

“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…

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

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…