In this Blog, Kaviri Ali share how the ReachUp! Program by DOT Uganda is equipping child mothers with Business and Technology skills to start their own income generating activities so that they are better placed to support themselves and their babies. The program is greatly impacting on their lives and it’s enabling them to become confident after the trauma they have gone through, which is closely associated with child pregnancy.
On the 16th of September 2013, we started facilitating ReachUp! to a new group of participants and unlike other groups we have had since we began the program at Maendeleo Foundation, this group is full of teenage mothers some as old as 12 years. Trust me, we could not also believe our eyes when we saw 12 year old mothers walking through the gates of the training centre with babies to attend the program.
In this picture, we see Dorothy breastfeeding her child, whilst attending to one of the assignments on the computer.
During our week of mobilization, we combed many villages informing different groups in the community about Reachup! and one of the centres we visited was Child Care and Youth Empowerment Foundation (CAYEF), an NGO in Mukono District that is working around to rehabilitate teenage mothers in the area. After sharing with them about DOT’s Reachup!, and how it could boost the lives of their beneficiaries, they got so interested and promised to mobilize and send their girls to attend our program during the subsequent week.
In the past, I had extensively read and researched about teenage pregnancy but seeing the young mothers here has been an eye opener to reality with this hitch that continues to destroy many young people’s lives. The sad reality is that Uganda looses 16 women on a daily basis due to pregnancy-related complications, many of whom are young mothers under the age of 18 years.
Many findings on teenage pregnancies in the country cites the luck of information on Sexual and Reproductive Health needs especially among the young people which is increasingly contributing to high rates of unintended pregnancy, early marriages, early sexual behaviours and the risks associated with these pregnancies are leading to unsafe abortions as teens use all means to get rid of these unwanted pregnancies. It has been often said that as young people grow into adolescents and young adults, they become sexually active and are exposed to the dual risks of unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). At the age of 12 young people begin to explore sexuality.
A teen mother attends to her child during classes.