Asaba Sylvia 24, presents a brilliantly innocent smile from ear to ear. She wipes her little sweat with a red handkerchief, catches her breath and sits down to talk to me. “Master” she addresses me with a title used to address her tutors, “I’m sorry but Ima happy today, it felt good scoring the first goal for my team” she says shyly, as I encourage her to with an ok facial expression.
Baylor-Uganda with New Funding Mechanism3 (NFM3) has organized out of school tournaments and soft skills trainings in the Rwenzori to empower vulnerable girls and young women in Rwenzori as a tool to sensitize them against HIV as well skilling them to be gainfully self-employed. Sylvia is among the 153 Orphans, orphans, Gender Based Violence victims, teenage mothers, school drop outs and others that are part of the Business Enterprise development assistance programme and receiving second chance to life at the innovation camp in Buhanika Kigorobya and Kitooba and Hoima West
Sylvia narrates an ordeal that that is healing behind her smile. “I conceived my first baby at 16 while in primary six, I dropped out of school and the man responsible denied the pregnancy” This sentence dropped in my like bomb in quiet night. Sylvia poses for 2 minutes to contain tears. I give her time to gain composure before we continue the conversation.
Sylvia’s single mother, then a factory worker quit her job to take care of her daughter. This motherly care stopped Sylvia from committing suicide due to stigma from the community that had branded her a “prostitute and wasted child”.
“My mother nursed me up to the time I gave birth. I owe her my life” she affirms.
But Sylvia’s problems were not about to end; when the baby was 3, her in-laws claimed her and forcefully took her from Sylvia. “for 4 years ” I was demonized for being a bad mother until the community that had earlier seen how resilient I was and they forced them to give me back my baby” The child “names withheld” is now 9. The baby’s mother has been skilled to in Bakery. “I’m going to take this second chance very seriously, I have learned to make cakes and other snacks. My dream is to use income I can get to give my child an education and decent living” she says with a smile.
Kyomugisha is also part of the team playing today in the out of school tournament. She is the captain of the 9 man Police team. The 25 year old single baby mother from Kigorobya Ndarige II also dropped out of school in Primary six. She got pregnant at 18 after her father had passed away. “I thought my baby’s father loved me. But when he discovered I was pregnant with child, he abandoned me. I was devastated to the extent that I nearly lost my child ”
Her only new hope was when mentors from the second chance programme enrolled her to the Baylor-Uganda with New Funding Mechanism3 (NFM3) second chance baker class. “ This is what I needed and making cakes is going to my way out of this misery, I will use the skill to get an income to take care of my baby”
Tusiime Maureen 17 was abandoned by her father at infancy. “I have never seen him” she exclaims with such annoyance! In brief, her dad left her mom after conceiving Tusiime and he has never returned. Her single mother could nota fford to take her to school so she was taken up as a vulnerable child.
Story after story, each girl child has her own narration. But perhaps the most eye-brow raising some f Nyangoma Ana-Mary, 18 who was who was allegedly made pregnant by a Police Officer in Kiseke Hoima. Nyangoma dropped out of school and the police officer never wanted to look at her again. “he was arrested, and later released and he still serves but never takes care of my baby” the vulnerable mother who was previously surviving by doing house hold chores for well to families is now a skilled Baker with a full starter-pack ready to start a new business and a new life.
“Baylor has really opened up my mind to may things including enabling information on how to avoid HIV/AIDS and how to live positively”. She said.
Other girls like Nyangoma have been trained in basket weaving. They have perfected the skill and ready to change livelihoods.
Baylor-Uganda has been implementing the Global Fund grant for TB/HIV since 2018 as a Sub-Recipient from TASO the Principal recipient of the Global Fund for non-public sector (UGA-C-TASO). Baylor-Uganda received the New Funding Mechanism3 (NFM3) this year 2021 to continue implementing HIV prevention activities in Cluster districts including; Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kitagwenda, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Ntoroko, Buliisa, Hoima, Kagadi, Kakumiro, Kibaale, Kikuube, Kiryandongo, Masindi, Kassanda, Kayunga, Kiboga, Luwero, Kyankwanzi, Mityana, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola and Buikwe