By Derrick Kyatuka, Communications Officer, West Nile refugee Response
Mercy Leyo, 16, did not think that at her young age, she would be having a child to look after. Unfortunately for her, she got pregnant at the age of 15. Just like many girls living in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Leyo, was lured into a relationship that resulted in a pregnancy.
“I was in primary six at Twajiji primary school when I got pregnant. I had a boyfriend who lured me into sex and I ended up getting pregnant. When my parents found out who I was pregnant to, they discouraged me from getting married at a young age,” Leyo says.
Her parents instead proposed that Mercy completely primary school after the birth of her child.
“I want to join school again but my baby is only eight months. My parents are helping me to raise the baby because my former boyfriend disappeared when he discovered that my father had reported him to police and he was being pursued,” she adds.
Leyo, used to spend most of her time looking after her child and couldn’t return to school.
“I had already dropped out of school and all I could do was to take care of my boy. The situation of staying home was not good. My parents were also not working and we had no household income. We entirely depended on the monthly food ration for survival,” she notes.
It was during daily monitoring routines by the Child Protection Committee (CPC) members in the settlement that Leyo, was identified as a vulnerable child and enrolled for a tailoring course for three months.
I chose to tailor because it’s the kind of work I had always desired to do. Within the settlement, there are not so many tailors and I knew that after the course, I would make money. It would also be easy for me to make my own clothes and for the baby since buying new clothes is expensive,
For Amos Taluga, 17, who had dropped out of school back in South Sudan due to lack of school fees, he was once again set on his dream path of becoming a mechanic.
“I was at home idle for one year and when I was enrolled for the auto mechanics course, I saw myself achieving my dream. With no hesitation, I took on the free opportunity to be trained,” Taluga says.
He adds that he was trained in repairing motorcycles for three months and he is hopeful that with the skills acquired he will be able to make money in the settlement.
I am grateful that I received such training because I have not been mentored in repairing motorcycles only but also in other principles like public speaking and customer care. These skills will help me when I start running my business,
Harriet Ayozu, 18, narrates that she regrets the days she got a boyfriend who made her pregnant and abandoned her. According to her, all her dreams were shattered and she had to come to terms with the situation.
“I got pregnant when I was in senior one and I dropped out. At the time, I was only 16 years. My parents were very upset with me but they stood with me and took care of me during the pregnancy because my boyfriend was also young and he could not support me,” he adds.
Ayozu, was enrolled for hairdressing.
I have been skilled in plaiting different hairstyles and I am optimistic that these skills will help me to earn money and take care of my two years old baby.
Onesmus Hakim, 16, is excited that the skills empowerment in carpentry will make his life better. He says that together with his group members, they hope to set up a carpentry workshop using the start-up kits provided by World Vision.
Before the training, I was just seated at home doing nothing developmental. The training has restored hope in me and I hope my future will be better. Some of the products made were sold off which proved to me that the carpentry business is profitable,
Adding that he was not only skilled in carpentry but also in personal, home and environmental hygiene.
About the project
Since June 2018 to March 2019 World Vision Uganda, had been implementing a project dubbed Bidibidi End Violence Against Children (BEVAC), in zones 1, 2, 3 and the neighbouring host communities of Bidibidi refugee settlement. This project aimed at offering skills training and other personalised support for teenage mothers and victims of gender violence to enhance their safety, dignity and general well-being.
The project targeted vulnerable children and victims of gender-based violence.
The project aimed at building the capacity of community-based structures and other stakeholders through pieces of training and material support to prevent and respond to violence against children.
The project funding is coordinated by UNICEF, UNHCR and the Government of Japan. It empowers 750 youth with entrepreneurship skills in carpentry, auto mechanics, hairdressing, catering and tailoring from both refugee and host communities.
The cumulative number of vulnerable children currently identified and supported by World Vision in Bidibidi is 5,300 of which 1,474 are unaccompanied children in foster care; 52 cases of teenage pregnancy, 3 cases of forced marriage and 58 cases of child parents among other cases.