THE STORY OF SANDRA, A CHILD MOTHER, SCHOOL DROPOUT AND LIVING IN ABJECT POVERTY
On the 28th March 2013, I held a one on one interview with 19year old Sandra (not real names) who hails from Kabarole district. And this is her life story.
Sandra was orphaned at the age of 12, she is the third born of four. In 2010 she got an opportunity for sponsorship by Joy for Children Uganda a non profit organisation, where she studied up to mid way senior four. Unfortunately she didn’t manage to complete because her sponsor pulled out before and then she conceived and thus had to drop out of school. Since that time they were orphaned it is the grandmother who has been looking after the three of them since their elder sister is married.
She further said that her other siblings too are at home, both lack school fees, the very youngest of them all managed to complete primary seven and the boy whom she follows is a primary six drop out and all are currently crammed in the their grandmother’s small house who is the sole bread winner. She is unemployed and only relies on farming which cannot ably sustain the family.
About her child who is now eleven months old, she said she believes he is fine since the baby’s father after had taken him away from her. She said she was coerced under the pretext that he was taking her to visit his home but on arrival, he wanted her to forcefully get married to him and when she refused, he took the child away from her and she opted to return and look after her ailing grandmother but that once in a while he allows her to visit her son.
Sandra’s story could be similar to so many others but let’s look at all circumstances playing against her, because of poverty, she can’t be in school and neither her siblings, she dreams of being a nurse in future as she says, but this might remain a distant dream. After discovering that she was pregnant, school was a forbidden place for her to be. While her now 21year old ex boyfriend enjoys all the rights to an education after recently completing his senior six and is eligible for a university education while Sandra’s future hangs in balance. Still a case where the girl child is deprived of her rights both by nature and manmade circumstances yet her male counterpart is favored and looked at by society as the hero, while this man will feel free to enjoy every priviledge including a good education,he will be able to get another woman and have a settled life, poor Sandra will only face the ridicule of society as the bad girl and probably be looked down upon as an out cast who deserves no chance in life.
Sandra might have gone astray but just like any other person; she deserves a second chance in this life, a chance to an education and a better life. She must never be condemned to fate in her own words she said” my future is finished” and yet she only needs an assurance that her life has just began and that it hasn’t ended until she has lived up to her dreams.
As Joy for Children Uganda, our main mission is to create awareness about the plight of such girls and make follow ups so as to ensure a bright future for them. In a country where according to a recent survey carried out in Kumi district the rate of girls school dropout stands at 84% compared to the national rate of 20% and teenage pregnancies and early marriages stood at 60% compared to the national rate of 25%.This can be attributed to culture and belief where sex education is not open to most girls and they don’t know how to go about anything to do with sex and so they end up in circumstances such as Sandra’s, besides poverty also playing a leading role.
This is just Sandra,what about all those out there who are suffering in silence with nobody to give them a care?to encourage them that it's not yet over?To those who have seen the light,let's flash it on their path,slowly by slowly we shall create the desirable impact and change we dream of for the girl child.Together we can stand against every injustice projected towards the girl child and shape her into a woman of value not just to her community but the world at large.