The lioness program is bouncing back

Written by Steve Blacket on Sunday, 18 July 2021. Posted in Angatunyo Girls Project - Uganda

Overcoming the challenges to continue prevention of forced child marriage in Uganda

Angatunyo Lioness Girls and tutors in front of the new program centre.

The past 18 months have been difficult throughout the world. Uganda was no exception. Pandemic management has included months of strict lockdown. Tragically the closure of schools resulted in an increase of sexual assaults, teen pregnancy and forced marriages. At the same that the need for the Angatunyo intervention was increasing, the program was severely restricted to comply with social distancing and program closures. In addition to these challenges, Carol, the program director, suffered a serious accident. As she was recovering the owners of the property gave short notice that the Angatunyo project would need to vacate.

Remarkably, through the dedicated leadership of Carol and her team, the Angatunyo program has negotiated all these challenges and continues to be a strong and effective intervention for girls facing forced marriage and sexual violence.

A new property has been secured to accommodate the program for the next three years. Rent has been paid in advance to enable property developments such as kitchen, toilets and security fencing to be completed. The property includes a building where vocational training is provided, and another building where the program participants are accommodated. After Carol reported an increasing number of rapes and murders of girls in the area we agreed that an armed security guard was needed.

During the first lockdown many of the girls were forced to return to their homes. During this short time two of the girls were forced to marry and another became pregnant. After this Carol refused to send the girls away and the police have provided an exemption for the Angatunyo program.

The lockdown has also restricted the capacity to sell produce from the vocational school such as bread, jewellery and clothing. The other significant form of self-generated income is from farming. Carol is currently leasing about 10 acres of farming land and growing rice and peanut, however lack of rain is threatening the potential harvest.

Angatunyo Lioness Girls Uganda was founded in partnership with Fulcrum Aid to provide protection, empowerment and self-determination for girls and young women facing forced marriage, abduction, sexual abuse and other forms of discrimination and assault. Fulcrum Aid’s commitment includes the ongoing program costs including property rental, salaries, electricity, water and security. Our goal is that development of income generating enterprises, especially agriculture, will enable the program to be financially self-sufficient by the end of 2023.

Thanks to the generous supporters who have enabled this highly effective project to expand under difficult circumstances. 


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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