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Defying and Confronting the Hurdles to Transform My People

I have just learnt that in a Secondary School in Rukungiri district, twenty girls were found pregnant at the beginning of this school term that opened in September. While in Mbale district, 60 percent of 300 deliveries (RHU health facilities) in August 2011 occurred to teenagers aged 12-17. http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/17/765703

Girls are paying the price of negligence and irresponsibility!! The rise of teenage pregnancies is attributed to poverty, unemployment, the search for material wealth and ignorance of sexual health. What perturbs me is the sexual violence happening against girls by people supposed to be their guardians. Sexual abuse takes many forms including sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contacts, coercion, harassment, rape, incest, prostitution and child trafficking. I want to reach these girls, but the people around them tend to be the risk these girls face. What a challenge!

I now appreciate the statistics in Uganda which reveals that 24 percent of adolescents aged between 15-24 years had their first sex forced. And yet 3 percent of these girls are already married by 15 years and 46.3 percent by 18 years. I ask myself, ‘what are these 15-year-olds doing in marriage?’ It is said that the younger a girl is when she experiences sexual intercourse, the higher the chances that the sex is coerced. All these are happening in the ‘eyes’ of parents and guardians most of whom are preoccupied with other responsibilities.

Challenging harmful culture and religion is also tough times I face. Its pride to marry young, child bearing is the reason for marriage, educating a girl benefits the future husband…. endless list, thus need to challenge attitudes and mindsets. It’s a process that will be slow and gradual.

The dilemma is the little appreciation for girl education among communities. Interventions to reach young people tend to yield less when these girls meet obstacles along the way to achieving their aspirations. I mean the environment where young people live and interact; the home and community environment is not conducive for healthy lifestyles. There is need for the linkage between community, school and home to be free from these bottlenecks. It’s my desire to work towards having interventions going beyond schools. My message always is ‘A person without values has no inspirations’.

Like Freidman Thomas analyses, the rise of the Internet, the creation of a global fiber-optic network, and the rapid development of long distance communication technologies has made it very easy for people all over the world to work together. It has created a global platform that has allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world. This is just spot on.

Pulsewire community is an opportunity I and my team can harness by working together across the networks to achieve our goals.

Pulsewire will propel me to achieving my vision. I am confident that the optimism I have is the faith that will lead me to achievement, for nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Comments

Kenia's picture

Value

Ikirimat,

It is frightening when one stops to think of the number of girls in the world under these situations: where they not valued as a person, but only as incubators.

I truly wish you the best in your endeavors in educating the masses on the worth of a *human* life, regardless of whether or not that life is male or female.

Kenia

Kenia Perez
CoFounder, www.MsJaneOfAllTrades.com

KathyG's picture

Optimism and Knowledge

I applaud your strength and courage as you face a huge problem. Others have been (and still are as well) in similar circumstances. I hope through the power of the internet and the wonderful support of Pulsewire you will meet those who can share their knowledge and experiences to help you achieve your vision.

Kathy

Rakiba's picture

Strength to fight the odds!

I would like to salute and thank you for the courage to speak your country problems with us.Yes ,Pulsewire is the huge media for you to outreach your problems and get support at the same time.Pulsewire also helps you to connect through the world and I am sure the fight you have started today will end oneday with Pulsewire,its member and of course by bringing a positive change like you want..

. Thanks so much. Your encouragement is my courage

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Lombe's picture

hope and confidence

Thanks for sharing this,

I am interested in hearing your personal experiences and observations regarding the teenage pregnancies, what kind of interventions are already in place. And also what do you suggest should be done to implement a strategy that goes across schools, families and communities?

Lombe Mwambwa
"I think a woman has two choices: either she's a feminist or a masochist." Gloria Steinem

ikirimat's picture

Good question

Good question/challenge Lombe.
We need a concerted and integrated approach to tackling this problem. However, we use interactive games to impart knowledge and skills to young people in school. These can also be used for out of school but we are still resource constrained. But we are partnering with the local radio to air out messages, talk shows to a larger community that includes parents. It is so amazing that there are some facts that people dont know , coupled with misconceptions. e.g. a girl can't get pregnant if she has sex for the first time/once.; wash with soda/coca cola after sex, you cant get pregnant;

It wa amazing that in one of the schools the students have asked for free HIV testing services (they have j\known the importance of knowl\ing their HIV status) but linking them to a service has not been easy . The TASO centre Rukungiri informed us that they can only provide information. This is so frustrating. We have created the demand but no services are available.

e have also realised that most of the girls in the village not motivated to study. They have amentality that they are destined to marriage at whatever cost. We think that having role models they look upto will motivate them to study with a purpose. We have held a few motivational talks in a few school so far.

However, I will share more personal expiriences soon

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


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