Safe Spaces was launched after the March 2020 directive by President Yoweri Museveni to have all schools and learners sent home following the outbreak COVID 19. The pandemic has since ravaged economies across the globe and killed over five million people.
More than 150 teenagers in Luwero Town Council have been
empowered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and combat the impact of COVID 19
In 2020, Team Uganda, a civil society organization
in Luwero with support from Children Rights and Violence Prevention Fund
introduced Safe Spaces programme to help teenagers acquire skills as well as
avoid risks that can lead to early and unwanted pregnancies.
Safe Spaces was launched after the March 2020
directive by President Yoweri Museveni to have all schools and learners sent home
following the outbreak COVID 19. The pandemic has since ravaged economies
across the globe and killed over five million people.
In Uganda alone, the virus has killed more than 3,250 people
since the first case was reported in late March 2020, just days after the
president ordered all schools closed and learners sent home.
As parents and learners wait to resume normal
classroom learning in January next year, at least 16,163 teenagers in Luwero
district alone have been impregnated in the past one year. Of these, 442 are
girls below the age of 15 years.
In Luwero Town Council, Safe Spaces has enrolled 150
teenagers from zones of Kizito, Kiyenje, Kasoma, Mabbale and Kasana Piida.
The programme brings together teenagers who are trained at a “safe space”
under a tree in either schools or community leaders’ homes.
Adah Nansimbe was pursuing a certificate in
Fashion and Design at Hermitage Vocational School before school closures in
2020. She decided to enroll in the
safe space held under a tree at Luwero Islamic Primary School where she has
learned to make liquid soap, flowers, sanitary pads, and envelopes among other skills.
Nansimbe, now aged 17 years, makes liquid soap
which she sells in her neighborhood to get some money. She says that the safe spaces have helped her to use
the COVID-19 lockdown productively and avoid temptations that could lead her
into getting pregnant.
Vivian Naggawa, who is 19 years, dropped out of
school in 2019 for lack of fees and resorted to selling shoes in weekly markets
before they were closed during lockdown.
She enrolled in Kizito Zone Victorious Girl safe
space to get life skills and she is also making liquid soap which sells in her
neighborhood. Naggawa is being
trained in hairdressing so as to open up a saloon and earn a living.
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Racheal Nabbumba, a senior one student at Amazing
Grace Secondary School, says that although she will return to school in January
next year, her mother has promised to support her to make and sell sanitary pads
among the learners at school.
The safe spaces programme has also attracted and
restored hope among child mothers who are struggling to look after themselves.
A 19-year-old mother says that the skills will
help her to start off a business and look after the baby. Other mothers said the safe spaces have offered them
counseling and relieved them of stress after giving birth at an early age.
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Eric Musaazi, the director of Team Uganda, says
that apart from life skills, they have also given relief packages worth 171,000
shillings to some child mothers to survive during the lockdown.
Musaazi says that even after the lockdown is
lifted, they will continue to train teenage girls who may be unable to return
to schools so as to equip them with life skills for a living.
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After learning, the teenagers also engage in
netball and other sports activities.