If you saw the update on our Apprenticeship Programme a couple of months ago, you’ll have read a little about Uganda’s massive youth population, and what this means for Butaleja District and the young people there.
Butaleja actually has one of the youngest populations in Uganda, and the fertility rate, even amongst these young people, is staggeringly high. It has sadly been known in the district for women as young as 28 years old to become grandmothers. With the challenges facing youths in Butaleja, such as teenage pregnancies and early marriages, our aim is to educate and empower them to realise their often unfulfilled potential.
This year, our apprenticeship programme is equipping 29 young people (mostly young mothers) with hands-on skills in tailoring, hairdressing and salon management, helping them to become skilled and independent enough to earn an income or even establish their own business. By empowering these young mothers with skills for self-reliance, their lives have been transformed; not just temporarily, but for the long term.
Janet* was one such youth, at risk of becoming one of the 83% unemployed young people in Butaleja District (UNICEF, 2015) when she became a mother at the age of 16. Understandably struggling to balance school and child care, Janet had no choice but to drop out of school to take care of her child. Life became extremely difficult as Janet’s mother, her only parent and sole source of support, became furious when Janet became pregnant, and sadly abandoned her. The father of Janet’s child denied any involvement and responsibility, and also left her to fend for herself and her baby.
Our team came in touch with Janet through a Community Development Officer in the district who recommended her for our apprenticeship programme. Fred, one of a little bit of HOPE (Uganda)’s Project Managers, gave us an update on how Janet has been getting on…
“It’s been just five months since we took on Janet to help her gain some hairdressing skills, just like the other 28 young mothers. But it’s unbelievable how her life has already been greatly transformed. She can now afford a smile, even after going through all the challenges she has faced at a very young age. With the skills she has acquired she can now make her own money, and she says: “When my training has finished I will create my own job by setting up a small salon in my village trading centre. There is no one in that area that is trained in hairdressing like me, so I will be able to provide a service for the women in the village and surrounding villages.” Janet is so grateful for the support provided to her by a little bit of HOPE.”
Janet’s story is one of many that we have the privilege of hearing, thanks to the self-determination and dedication of these young mothers, who, despite their circumstances, are able to change the course of their future and bring hope into the picture.
*not her real name