Changing Attitudes and Changing Fortunes in Uganda

Written by Steve Blacket on Wednesday, 24 August 2016. Posted in Angatunyo Girls Project - Uganda

The Angatunyo Girls Project has provided twelve girls with an opportunity for ongoing education and financial independence, rather than being forced into unwanted marriages.

Changing Attitudes and Changing Fortunes in Uganda

Early this year Carol Akello used a modest grant from Fulcrum Aid to establish a micro-enterprise project designed to empower teenage girls with alternatives to forced marriage. She called the project “Angatanyo” which is the local word for lioness. Four teenage girls commenced training in business skills that would enable them to become financially self-sufficient – which is all it takes to avoid being forced into an early marriage.

Within a few months community leaders from Amuria approached Carol asking if she would accept other girls who were at risk of forced marriages, and even some who had already been forced into marriages. Despite her resources being stretched to the limit Carol has accepted an additional eight girls. 

Three of Carol’s young lionesses had been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the notorious militia led by Joseph Kony which is responsible for the abduction of tens of thousands of child soldiers and the displacement of over 2 million people in north Uganda.

Other girls face various forms of stigma, discrimination and social isolation.

Carol welcomes them and is determined to give them the skills that will enable them to determine their own futures.

Currently the program has three volunteers teaching tailoring, and two others teaching baking and handcrafts. Sewing school uniforms is expected to create the greatest financial returns but also requires greater capital investment and longer time to develop skills. Baking and handcrafts are already generating financial returns for the program.

Recently Davis Kawooya was able to visit the Angatunyo Girls Project and report on the progress made so far. Davis is a Ugandan living in Perth and undertaking his PhD in International Relations. He has given a very affirming report on the project and has brought recommendations on how we can support its expansion. These include providing equipment to make yoghurt which is highly sought after locally, providing Carol with a computer and modem, and eventually purchasing land to avoid the high cost of rent.

Davis writes "The Angatunyo Girls Project is a community based programme aimed at empowering young and vulnerable girls in the District of Amuria north east of Uganda. The area is one of those badly affected by the effects of the two decade conflict led by the Lords Resistance Amy (LRA). As a result of the conflict, the poverty situation is alarming whereby in order for families to earn an income, they force young girls into early marriages so that the parents can benefit through bride price "

Although the program is still in the formative stages, Carol has demonstrated her capacity as a social entrepreneur, and has initiated a shift in community attitudes towards the practice of forcing orphaned teenage girls to marry.

About the Author

Steve Blacket

Steve Blacket

Steve is the Managing Director of Fulcrum Aid, an organisation dedicated to sustainable freedom from extreme poverty with partnerships in four countries across Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Steve’s urban ministry in South Australia led to lifelong friendships among the South Sudanese refugee community who requested Steve’s assistance with community development in their homeland. Working with a faith-based organisation Steve initiated and managed various projects in South Sudan including Darfur refugee support, training and resourcing Traditional Birth Attendants, an intervention program for war affected children, a Midwives Training School, a program for girl’s education, and a community agricultural enterprise. Steve also initiated education projects and social enterprises among the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Steve returned to Australia in 2013 with a vision of how a small, non-aligned aid organisation committed to assisting early stage, locally initiated projects could make a difference. Partnerships and project opportunities continue to grow, including slavery rehabilitation in South Sudan, social enterprises in Bangladesh, independence schemes for vulnerable young women in Uganda and South Sudan, holistic care for HIV affected children in Bangladesh, and resourcing a Nurse and Midwife School in Juba, South Sudan. Steve’s vision drew support from across Australia and in 2014 he led the founding of Fulcrum Aid, dedicated to supporting in-country leaders and harnessing Australian partners and resources so that local communities could move towards sustainable freedom from extreme inequality and poverty. Today Fulcrum Aid has a dedicated team of Directors and an expert staff including Business, Project, Publicity and Research consultants, supported by Steve in his role as Managing Director.

Contact Steve by email here.

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