Background of GirlBe
In 2011, Rehema, a teenager coming of age with a refreshingly vibrant outlook on life founded GirlBe. At the time, driven by her deep childhood fractures, she was determined to support girls in low-income communities to figure out a way to serve their needs immediately. For nearly a decade now, GirlBe was run as a homework support group to make it a little easier for the girls to stay in school. However, through daily interactions with the girls, it was evident that helping them with their homework was not enough. Their immediate needs were way beyond just the homework and required a more holistic approach. Two years later in 2013, GirlBe grew into a community embedded program that excelled in being a safe and fun space for girls to commune, to access scholarships, to study and to participate in creative practices. Being embedded in community helped us to learn that the biggest challenge in the community was that a lot of girls were being sexually harassed, getting pregnant and dropping out of school consequently and no one was successfully addressing it.
Take Anita for example. She got pregnant at 13 and was sent away from home for being an embarrassment. Since she had nowhere else to go, she got married. Even when at GirlBe we arranged a scholarship for her, she was advised by her family to remain married and even gave birth to her second child at the expense of her future. Teenage moms like Anita and Shadia have no fair chance of redefining their destiny.
It became clear that for GirlBe’s programs to achieve the desired long-term impact, the teenage moms needed to change the environment. They needed to get out of the communities that continue to undermine their rights as children to a safe stigma-free environment that would facilitate their healing process and enhance their concentration on education.
Overview of GirlBe Secondary School for Teenage Moms
GirlBe Secondary School for Teenage Moms is a school under construction in Central Uganda, Kayunga District. The school targets teenage moms aged between 13 and 19 years who completed and passed Primary education but are facing challenges going back to school either because of stigma or lack of support/ resources to continue with their education. The school has three main objectives;
Our promise is that by the time a teenage mom leaves the school after completing senior 6, she should have the capacity to sustain herself and her child.
Mother and Child
At GirlBe Secondary School for Teenage Moms, we believe that separating the teenage mom from her child is one of the reasons why a lot of teenage moms fail to complete their education. It is therefore fundamental for our program to create a conducive learning environment that facilitates keeping the mother and her child together.
For the teenage moms to conveniently have uninterrupted education, we have already constructed the daycare where the teenage moms will leave their children as they go to class to study but will still have access to breastfeed in between class breaks.
Nankya Shadia 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! As a result, she dropped out of school due to stigma from her family and immediate community among other dramatic circumstances. For three years, Shadia felt lost. ‘’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.’’ She says.
In Uganda today, there are more than 300,000 girls like Shadia every year who are stuck with no place to call home and without hope for a second chance. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Uganda has the highest female school dropout rate in East Africa; and one of the main causes is teenage pregnancies and early marriages. Annually, many girls drop out of school due to pregnancy in Uganda with only one out of ten being able to go back to school to complete their education. According to research, the low rate of school enrollment of teenage moms is mainly due to stigma and discrimination.
Being a teenage mom in a typical secondary school in Uganda is a source of ridicule for such girls from fellow students and teachers alike. As a punishment, many others are forced to marry the men responsible for their pregnancies; others are sent away from home while others are subjected to domestic work instead of sending them back to school.
Implementation and Construction of the school facility
Kindly join us as we solicit for bricks, sand, cement, timber and iron sheets to construct O’level classroom for teenage moms to be able to study conveniently. Thank You!