International Day of the Girl: Letters from girls in Uganda

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Girls everywhere are already changing the world. This Day Of The Girl (Oct 11) join us by giving a shout out or writing a letter to a girl who inspires you: a young leader, a family member, an influencer, your best friend or even yourself as a teen! 

"My name is Chemutai Everlyne aged 13 years from Loroo subcounty Amudat District. Am a primary six pupil of Katikat primary school in Amudat town council and an adolescent volunteer at my school.

During the lockdown I am staying at a protection centre/school with 25 other survivors of child marriage, female genital mutilation and child neglect and I am leader and mentor. My home is not safe because my sister’s husband wanted to force me into marriage and said he didn’t have money to pay for my school fees. He said I was fit to be someone’s wife. 

My actions and voice have positively changed my peers here at the centre and back home. For example, I brought my friend back to school who is studying with me. She was about to be given out for marriage. Using my skills, knowledge and experience, as an adolescent volunteer I talked to her and brought her to the police, and she was assisted by the Probation Officer to settle in school and right now she is happy to be in school because she is safe.

I also supported six adolescent survivors of female genital mutilation who were brought to the protection centre/school. l counsel them and even encourage them to remain in school. I also support them to read and write and teach them how to make beads and knit.

I want to be a girl champion in future.

That is my story."

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Chemutai Everlyne

 

"Dear Scovia,

How are you doing these days? It’s been a very long time since we last met during the adolescent volunteer training with TMF in our school in December 2019. I waited for your reply of the planned community dialogue we intended to do in Busia trading centre but all the same, we can still plan it for the next coming month.

I also want to inform you that we are expected to plan a workshop/training for the adolescent boys and girls in our community ie Ombatini village mainly on the nine issues affecting adolescents and that some of the officials of TMF who trained us will be in attendance that day.

I am also glad to inform you that I helped a seventeen-year-old girl who wanted to get married after dropping out of school because her parents told her that they could no longer pay for her school fees and there was nothing she was doing. But when I met her, I felt pity on her decision and gave her some business skills which I had got from my aunt since my aunt was earning good amount of money from vegetable selling. I told her to do the same and took her to my aunt so to learn where to buy them from. As per now she is selling onions and tomatoes and uses the money to buy her basic needs and will be able to contribute to her school fees. Her mindset towards marriage changed totally because I told her a story a girl who got pregnant and underwent an operation during delivery.

All in all, am thankful to God for having given me this opportunity to write this letter. Let’s hope to meet soon and zoom with our programme.

Your loving friend,
Viko Stella, 18 years"


 

"Dear friend,

My name is Chebet Hellen, 8 years from Kapetawoi village, Katobok Parish, Amudat subcounty, Amudat District. I am a student at Pokot SS in S4 class. I am soft spoken pokot girl in and one of the role models in my community because of the level of education I have attained as a girl in my community, which is male dominated with lower levels of achievements in education among girls.

I have always stood my ground by supporting other girls in my community who consult me for guidance in times of challenges both at home and school. I encourage other girls to be in school especially those who consult me for example I counselled a girl to remain in school who had given up with school and she was able to listen, and she is now in Moroto High.

I have been instrumental in educating girls about the dangers of female genital mutialtion, especially around the borehole and I have saved many girls."


 

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Mindraa Mercy Claire

"Dear Ayaa

I am Mindraa Mercy Claire 18 years old from Alere Senior secondary school in Adjumani District. I have a friend called Achen Lucky Robina, a determined hardworking girl studying in Katrini secondary school in Arua District while staying with her grandmother.

During this lockdown she came to stay with her mother in Adjumani District but while staying with her mother things changed from good to worse by threatening her. Telling her that she doesn’t want her at home because she wanted to bring in his boyfriends and the mother never wanted the boyfriends to know that she had a daughter of her age. Because of her mother threatening to chase or kill her, she thought of getting pregnant so that she also goes to her husband and starts her new life and then also wanted to join ‘illuminate’ so that she kills everyone who’s against her.

After thinking a lot, she came and talked to me about her issues and problems. Then I decided to counsel her and through my continuous counselling and guiding sessions, I decided to refer her to the psychosocial worker who discovered that she was undergoing depression and recommended continuous guidance and counselling. After that her life started changing slowly and she is now excited to go back to school."


 

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Anzoa Hope Joan

"My name is Anzoa Hope Joan, 17 years old and I attended my primary in Unna primary school in Adjumani District. A year ago, two of my friends got married, and one got pregnant forcing them to get out of school. Their parents could not provide all the basic items, forcing them to accept gifts from men and they were forced to have sex with them, because they had nothing to pay back to those men. The two girls who got married are tortured, they are leading a miserable life than when they were at their parents’ home. I felt bad, I took an initiative to talk to parents in my community on how to support girls to stop them getting married when they are unable to support their families at an early stage.

I have realized that girls are not given the opportunity to exercise their rights. Being in Straight Talk club member, I have learnt so many life skills to protect myself from dangers, I know my rights as girl child and I also report issues affecting adolescent girls in my community. The club also enabled me to become brave, assertive, I advocate for change on girl child issues. During the time of COVID 19, I conduct peer education on weekly basis, in total I have seen 75 girls. This has helped them change the lives of young girls. I am happy that the network of peer education is growing every day.

I therefore appeal to all the parents to support the girl child with all the basic needs, avoid using bad language while threatening them. To the LCs, subcounty and district leaders, to arrest and punish parents who force their girls to marry at an early age and punish policemen who are bribed to end cases reported at police as the law requires. The girl child should be treated fairly and have equal education opportunities as boys because if you educate a girl, you educate a nation."


 

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Victoria Ide

"Dear Martha,

I hope you are fine. I miss being at school and can’t imagine a future without education.

During this lockdown, I sing with children and play football at Dradranga playground. I also started doing something to help my community after attending a community dialogue in my village by Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation. They were talking to the parents and children about keeping girls safe and ready to return to school. I felt happy because many girls in my village have got pregnant while others lost interest in going back to school. I volunteered to lead the adolescent girls’ group. If we have girls educated, we can be able to educate parents about the good in education and they will send the children to school. Also, the girls will have a better future with education. They will support their families and become self-reliant.

I got in touch with my friend Nasira and Lesikara we moved to 200 families in 16 villages, teaching parents about our adolescent group. We moved for about two hours in Omvuzoku village and met with 15 families only. It’s a small village. In our first meeting, we had 150 adolescent girls at Dradrango Primary School. We discussed challenges we are facing during lockdown and solutions. The biggest issues mentioned were sexual violence and lack of pads. I talked to Trail Blazers Foundation and they brought some reusable pads. We had a meeting and decided to give the poorest. Eight girls received the pads and we taught them about menstruation.

Girls now report their problems to me, I also counsel them. For the difficult cases, I refer them to Afisa Yasul, a chairperson parent nearby. I convinced Kiongaoriel protection committee and Jackson Ali, youth leaders to help us in talking to difficult parents to allow their girls attend our group meeting.

Yours,

Victoria Ide

Aring Secondary School."


 

"Dear Honorable. Nakiwala Kiyingi

I thank you so much for all you do to help our families and children to get justice. I admire your strength as Minister of State for Youth and Children resolving high- and low-profile domestic violence cases. I would also like to tell you about adolescents in Yumbe District especially the girls, so that you can help us overcome our problems.

Our biggest problem is many of our parents refuse to provide us with things to use like pads, panties and washing soap. This has made many adolescent girls to get boyfriends and husbands to provide. Our parents don’t mind about this because they want us to get married. Some of them think education is a waste of time and money which delays their wealth from our dowry. So please Honorable we are requesting under your Ministry to support organizations like TMF which come to talk to our parents about education and problems of child marriage.

I also ask you to investigate cases of child marriage by public servants, religious leaders and influential business men in Yumbe District. This will help to discourage others from the practice.

 

Yours Sincerely

Swafa Yasin."


 

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Ejoti Hidayah

"Dear Dad,

I hope you are doing well in this lockdown. The reason as to why I have written this letter to you is to inform you how you inspire me.

Father, you are the smartest person I know, extremely confident in yourself and you have taught me to do the same.

You always believe in me and know that I can always go an extra mile.

You are my role model, extremely intelligent and you give me everything that you have without regret. You always make me laugh whenever am angry by telling me funny stories in the best way which brings me joy.

You have played a huge part in turning me into the wise girl I am today and for that, I will always be grateful.

Thank you for your wisdom and inspiration. I love you Dad.

May the Almighty Allah bless you and protect you from all evils.

Your loving daughter

Ejoti Hidayah

15 years, Senior one."


 

"Dear Hon Avako Zaituni,

I am Aninga Edwn from Yumbe District aged 20 years old. I would like to appreciate your support of giving advise to all girls to focus on their education and how it can help in future.

I am also encouraging adolescent girls to stay in school just like you do. I also tell them to report all experiences they face that make them drop out of school, to trusted leaders.

Your words encourage me and now I prioritize studies. I avoid bad peer groups and sex. 

I want to become a nurse so that I can rescue people’s lives by giving them treatment when they become sick.

Thank you for being an inspiration to me and many adolescent girls in Yumbe District.

May God bless you

Yours sincererly
Aningaa Edwin
Member of Girls Education Club
Yumbe Secondary School."


 

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Munduru Sumaya

"Dear Mum,

How are you doing in this lockdown? Hope you are doing fine. As for me, am doing just fine. I am writing this letter to inform you how you inspire me in my life.

Mum, you have given me the strength to be the girl I am today by showing me faith, love and the importance of family. You have also believed in me.

You taught me how to love unconditionally, always forgiven me and most of all, showed me how to follow God’s path.

You fiercely protect our family and have been my rock during both my best and worst times, through powerful and inspiring words of wisdom.

I would not be the person I am today without the unconditional love from you because you are my best friend and support, through all my ups and down in my life.

You taught me to always stand up for myself and those who need my support and stay strong, as well as be compassionate and independent.

Mum, you have always been my biggest cheer leader and motivator which has pushed me to exceed my limits and achieve my goals. 

May the Almighty protect you. 

Your loving daughter
Munduru Sumaya; 16 years, Senior Three."


 

"Dear Angella Katatumba,

How are you doing in this lockdown? Hope you are doing fine. I am also doing fine.

The reason as to why I have written this letter to you is to inform you that you are my role model and you inspire me.

In 2006 to present, you started the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) called Angella Katatumba Development Foundation, an umbrella of your two current projects namely:

  • Firstly, is the ‘For You Gulu Project’ which is very successful, and your intention was through music, to raise awareness of Northern Uganda after the 21-year-old war torn regions and raise awareness of people suffering in Uganda and Africa.
  • Secondly is the ‘Let’s Go Green Campaign’ in 2010 to 2011 where the British Council commissioned and appointed you the international climate change icon in Uganda and your song ‘Let’s go green’ became the theme song at a number of events at the global climate change summit and when you visited villages and schools in Uganda to teach people about climate change.
  • In August 29 2007, you featured on VOA Straight Talk Africa for humanitarian work under the ‘For You Gulu Project’ and the last King of Scotland (Oscar winning movie) 2006, you also played the part of ‘Beautiful Woman Number 1’ and that made you get many awards and for all that you achieved in life, you will always inspire me.

Angella, you have really done a lot for the country showing the power of a woman.

I wish you all the best in life. Thank you.

Your admirer

Andezuyo Joseline
15 years, Senior Two."

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Andezuyo Joseline


 

"Dear friend,

Let's be change agents in our communities. I advocated for a girl in Koboko District who had dropped out of school following her father’s death and later marriage in 2019. She got pregnant and delivered while we were in second term. After I saw her suffering in her marriage, as a volunteer, I couldn’t let her suffer with the baby, so I visited her home to talk to her mother about the dangers of child marriage.

With the information and advice I gave the mother, she accepted to take the girl back to school. The mother talked to the girl's uncle, who visited the girl’s in-laws and convinced them to let her return to school and abandon the marriage. Thankfully the in-laws released the girl with her baby and she is now at home. The girl is back to school and before the Covid disturbance, she was attending primary seven. 

Amviko Scovia
16 years, Senior Three"

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