Support the construction of a community women and health information center
The Proposed Project
Hope Centre Foundation will construct a community women and health information center, to empower women to be economically self-reliant while empowering them to remain healthy.
The project will use an integrated blend of skills development in making re-usable sanitary pads, training in tailoring and business skills while providing access to health information.
This project will enable girls and women acquire skills and knowledge to start their own businesses for self-employment and self-reliance while empowering them to remain healthy. Health training will be provided using photo voices, health information charts and Sexual gender based violence redress mechanism charts.
Sewing machines and re-usable sanitary pad materials will be purchased. Through community local leaders, community based organizations, youth clubs and women groups, 20 adolescent out-of-school girls and young women (14 to 25 years) will be recruited and trained as trainers of trainees (community health teams) in making re-usable sanitary pads, tailoring, business skills,
sexual reproductive health, sexual gender based violence and its redress mechanism. These will train others and hold quarterly radio talk shows to sensitize communities on the same and popularize the women center and its services. They will also be supported to conduct community health information outreaches. Startup kits will be provided to enable graduands start up their own businesses while linking them to markets. Tailoring services will be offered to neighboring communities at affordable fees cover expenses. A center management committee (5 trainers of trainees) will be selected to run the project after the funding period.
The 2013 Uganda parliamentary forum report on quality education showed that 71% of girls drop out of school due to lack of sanitary materials. The 2015 World vision report showed that Kibaale district had the highest girl child school dropout rate with 50 out of 93 girls who dropped out of school between January 2014 and May 2015. Girls aged 14-16 years were most affected.
This was attributed to early pregnancies as parents force girls into marriage to get bride price as a source of income. Incest was another vice that was cited. To exacerbate the situation, the government has no policy to ensure girls who drop out of school re-join school after giving birth. This means a girl’s future ends the day she gets pregnant. They are expelled from school not to spread bad habits to others and no other school can admit such a student.
Those in candidate classes have been stopped from siting final examinations and dismissed if found pregnant. The socially driven polygamy norms among men has left many young girls abandoned by their husbands after their first child. Many of such girls between (15 and 24 years) have resorted to sex work to earn a living to care for themselves and their children.
The discovery of oil in the Albertine region (Kibaale and Hoima districts) increased suffering of young girls and women as their husbands continue to sell off the land to new business owners and companies that want to invest in the oil rich districts. Agriculture has been the only source of income for these girls and young women but with the discovery of oil, most of the land has been sold off by their husbands.
This has resulted into girls and young women running from one man to another seeking financial support thus increasing HIV infections among them. Well as the discovery of oil has increased market for locally made goods like re-usable sanitary pads and clothes these are sourced from the cities due to lack of local skilled personnel in this field.
The illiteracy and lack of skills among school drop-out girls and young women has made it hard to obtain employment opportunities thus increasing their economic dependency on men. This further exposes them to high health risks like HIV, sexual exploitation and limits their access to health care since they have to depend on men for everything.
Way of life
On a typical day, adolescent girls and women wake up and go different villages looking for what to do for a living. For the few that still have their parents have gone back to their parents with their children. In fact, 3 in 5 families in Bwamiramira subcounty have their daughters and grand children living under the same roof after the daughters are forcefully divorced.
The women and girls are the sole bread winners for their children for all basic needs like education, health care, and food. Most girls and women have resorted to alcoholism as they visit local alcohol brewing points in different villages where they provide cheap labour and they are paid one litre of local alcohol a day.
They cannot sell off this alcohol to support themselves financially because there is no market for it other than family consumption. Children start drinking alcohol as early as 5 years due to the early exposure. Early this year in Bubango village, we attended a burial of Kabonesa a young woman aged 24 who died due to excessive drinking and left behind 5 children with her grandmother.
Those that stay in trading centers or small towns like Karuguuza, Kitutu, Kikaada, Bukonda, Mugalama, Igayaza and Kigaaza have resorted to sex worker as the source of income usually done both day and night time. Recently, police arrested over 40 adolescent girls in Kitutu village for being sex workers and some are not yet out of police custody to date.
On December, 2nd, 2020, Hope Centre Foundation in conjunction with Special Monitoring Mission Volunteers organized a health awareness campaign in commemoration of Universal health coverage day.
The adolescent girls and young women presented their challenges in accessing health care services. They reported to the resident district commissioner who was the chief guest that they were forced into marriage by their parents as a source of income.
As a result, they are victims of sexual gender based violence by their husbands in reference to the money they pay as bride price. They suggested they needed alternative education services and a healthy friendly environment to access treatment especially for sexually transmitted infections.
Mbabazi a young girl from Kikaada village said that she can’t go to Kibaale health center because she doesn’t want her mother to see her because they go to the same health center. On October 28th, 2019 while we launched a water spring constructed by Hope Centre Foundation in Kikaada village, the girls on the water management committee said the water issue was sorted but they needed hands skills opportunities and information on health.
After the launch, we held a meeting with women and girls to discuss the how to maintain the water spring. The appreciated having clean water but suggested that they had more health and economic challenges that needed urgent attention. They gave examples of their loved ones who were arrested and some who had turned into serial alcoholics and those that were struggling with HIV. The community request geared with the urgent need are the key determinants of the project.