This is Nansubuga Shadia. She had a dream. She was in school just like other children with a dream to be a Lawyer. However, when she got pregnant at only 13 years of age, things changed!
For three years, she succumbed to the struggles of teenage moms in Uganda. Consequently, she dropped out of school among a number of dramatic circumstances especially stigma from her family and immediate community.
Shadia says, ‘’I don’t feel like a child anymore and I don’t feel like an adult either. I am at a place where I don’t know who I am and it’s scary’’.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Uganda has the highest female school dropout rate in East Africa; with only one out of ten being able to go back to school to complete their education after pregnancy. The low rates of school enrollment of teenage moms is mainly due to stigma and discrimination.
At GirlBe, we have enrolled Shadia back to school in her neighborhood. However, in conventional schools, there is very little tolerance for girls like her; teenage moms. There is a lot of discrimination and marginalization. There is so much stigma that she can hardly focus on her education because she is not a regular student. She is ashamed of herself. She does not fit in among other students. This leaves a huge number of young girls around our neighborhoods stuck in abusive early marriages and hopeless lives.
GirlBe secondary school for teenage moms is a boarding/residential education program where teenage moms have a chance to complete their education with their babies without shame or stigma. Our objective is educating the mind, skilling the hands and healing the heart of teenage moms into self-mastered individuals of society with meaning and impact through formal education, vocational training and therapy.
The budget for the complete construction of GirlBe secondary school for teenage moms would be unlikely for us to attain currently yet we want the program to commence this year with the Uganda academic calendar starting February. Therefore, we have broken down the project into phases that will also enable us to fundraise, develop further our fund management capacity and facilitate the organic development of the project.