UG 02 - INDEPENDENT MOTHERS, HAPPY CHILDREN
The project is carried out in Northern Uganda and precisely in Gulu and surroundings. The population resident in this area experienced decades of "persecution" and war, interrupted only for a short time in the early eighties of the last century. Then the HIV/AIDS plunged the population into an extremely vulnerable situation, characterized by high mortality and, as a result, by many orphaned children. In addition, in the following years the situation became even more dramatic due to the guerrilla warfare headed by Joseph Kony.
This led to unprecedented situations of violence, harassment, torture, mass destruction and kidnapping of children, the latter to be forced into becoming soldiers (the boys) and sexual slaves (the girls). The recent years of Covid-19 related lockdown have exacerbated an already complex and complicated social situation. With schools closed for almost two years and small businesses stopped, the financial conditions of families have worsened and there has been an increase in street children who find in their peers the security and support lacking in their families.
There has also been an exponential increase in pregnancies among adolescents, as well as of early school dropouts among girls who, in the current social context, are the most vulnerable category.
This particular initiative was born as a part of the project launched last year to support street children. My current experience with street children leads me to confirm that even here, where for over 50 years I have been engaged in various ministries, the family as a social institution has long been ill, seriously ill, and society as a whole, too.
The richness of Africa and therefore also of Uganda are young people. Life is desired and welcomed; according to local culture a woman feels such only if she gives birth, a man feels such only if he has children but then this richness and gift that the Lord concedes it is not cared for, or safeguarded and protected.There is a lack of support at all levels: economic, sanitary, educational, familiar. Therefore, in the process of growing up and entering adolescence young people easily break away from their family and pour into the street, forming gangs that embark on looting to survive, causing insecurity. In Gulu the local Government District estimates that at least 2,000 youth (boys and girls) currently live on the street. And recently a new and urgent need has emerged with respect to children born to boys and girls living on the streets.
Unfortunately, there is often a lack of a serious sense of responsibility with respect to their children: having a very young girl as mother and a street boy as father implies that the small child in many cases has to cope with insecurity and unreliability from the very moment of its birth, due in particular to the lack of financial support. The girls I have met personally have great difficulties due to the lack of stable housing, of resources to cover their own and their children's basic needs. This project provides girls with a small initial capital to help them start income generating activities that can make them self-reliant over time. During the year of its implementation, the girls and their children receive food support, coverage for medical expenses and for the purchase of clothing. This additional support will allow young mothers to focus on the economic activities undertaken and to reinvest part of the generated profit in order to optimize the impact of the aid.
- To economically rehabilitate a group of 30 street girls/girlfriends of street boys who have to care for one or more children, as well as 30 women formerly kept in "captivity" by rebels
- To restore their independence, dignity and confidence in the future
- To allow the children of these women to grow up in a safe and healthy environment
Direct: a group of 30 girls
Indirect: their children, their families and the surrounding society
Referent sister for the project: Sr. Giovanna Calabria