Reclaiming Her Right to Education

May 24th, 2023 | Stories

Barbra and her mother appreciate the support they have received from para social worker Faridah.

Like thousands of young people across Uganda, Barbra’s education and daily life have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to learning interruption, the country’s extended two-year school closures increased the risk of attrition and dropout from school, and also saw spikes in child labor and teenage pregnancy rates.

Barbra is also one of many adolescent girls whose life was upended when she became pregnant during this time.

Being pregnant at 13 was not easy,” she says. “I stopped going to school and I stayed at home taking care of my siblings while my mother went to work. I thought my life was over.”

Today, however, she is reclaiming her right to an education and a brighter future with comprehensive support for her and her family to navigate the various challenges of schoolwork, teen motherhood, social stigma, and health risks.

On an antenatal visit in 2021 to a local clinic in her suburb of Namuwongo, Barbra met Faridah, a para social worker trained under the USAID ICYD Activity. Through ICYD, the Bantwana Initiative is helping build the capacity of local organizations and government social workers to deliver health, education, and social protection services to children and caregivers living with HIV and other vulnerabilities. Faridah enrolled Barbra in the program so she could receive psychosocial support and other services, including school re-entry, linkage to antenatal care, positive parenting and early childhood development skills, and nutrition and HIV prevention education.

Barbra, her mother, and baby enjoy a happy moment together.

Through regular home visits, Faridah engaged Barbra’s mother and emphasized the importance of continued education to open up more opportunities for Barbra and her child. Barbra’s mother and Faridah visited the school administration and successfully negotiated her re-enrollment. After the baby was born in 2022, Barbra returned to school, leaving her baby under the care of her mother, who operates a fresh food stall in Namuwongo market to support her family and pay for school fees.

With her mother’s support and her own determination, Barbra is achieving high marks in her final year of primary education.

Maths and biology are my favorite subjects and when I grow up, I want to be a doctor,” says Barbra.

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