For long, the girl-child in developing countries has been left to make her own life decisions, and yet nobody seems to mind because less if nothing at all has been done to address this matter. Busoga region in Eastern Uganda is no exception to this silent social case, this is not because the girls have none to talk to, but because of the gaps created between them and their parents mainly their fathers who are maybe culturally not meant to be close to their daughters but rather to their sons, this is at times coupled with rudeness and violence making them unfriendly to their own biological daughters, out of the many reasons, because of the high rates of alcohol and substance abuse in the communities within this region.
One of such a case just like the many other Ugandan female adolescent student cases is the story of Kampi. (not real names) During the month of December, 2016, sixteen (16) year old Kampi, a senior one (1) student of Nawaikoke senior secondary school in Kaliro district, Eastern Uganda, a resident of Kimbaya village, Gumpi parish, Bugaya Sub County in Buyende district, Eastern Uganda, was found conversing with a boy along the roadside by her father, this never went well with her father who attacked them and further promised to beat her up if she returned home. On returning home, several attempts to explain to her father that the boy was a simple friend were futile, he believed this was her lover and that Kampi was to get married to him because he was not willing to waste his money in the guise of paying her school fees again. In response, out of anger and feeling denied, Kampi decided never to go back to school. This was marking the end of her dreams to become a “musawo” literally meaning clinical nurse, the young girl had fallen victim to negative peer influence and parental negligence.
Kampi’s father having noticed he could not do anything much to help his daughter make up her mind get back to school, in order to bridge the gap between him and his daughter, he decided to seek further advice thus involving the local authorities like the LC II chairperson and police at Bugaya sub county headquarters, the closest unit of government to the rural people. This he knew would help have Kampi go through counselling sessions by the concerned officials. These efforts yielded no results, Kampi had one final statement she was determined never to change “am not going back to school. I will stay home”. Like the practice often is, Kampi was destined for early marriage.
To one of the Trailblazers, Pangole Musa a TMF boy champion of Bugaya sub county, having gotten the information on Kampi’s intention to drop out of school, Kampi’s statements were not final and he now knew it was time to put to test the life skills and other relevant training topics he had gained during TMF’s identification and recruitment of boys and young men to advocate against child marriage. Musa went to Kampi’s home, having sought permission from her father, engaged her in a discussion to establish what the problem could be. He discovered Kampi was struggling with adolescent challenges and needed serious guidance. Musa, well skilled by the training was not about to stop at that, he knew what he wanted to see happen, Kampi gets back to school having dropped out for two (02) terms, so, he regularly talked to Kampi while involving other community leaders. He says, using role models who come from within the region like Salam Musumba a renowned politician, Honourable Rebecca Kadaga, The right speaker of parliament of the republic of Uganda, he ably convinced the young girl to understand the fruits of education and what the future holds after going to school. Kampi then managed to get back to school and joined senior two (2), according to Musa, Kampi is an intelligent young girl who needs guidance and routine follow up to enable her discover her hidden potential. Today, Kampi is an active, happy school going girl at Nakabango secondary school whose mother, a peasant is struggling to pay her school fees the fact that her and her father fell apart, she successfully did her promotion exams at the end of 2016 and will join other girls this year 2017 in senior three (3). She now comfortably continues working hard to achieve her child hood dream to become a clinical nurse in order to treat the sick people in her community and save lives, thanks to the Girls’ Advocacy Alliance project implemented by Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation with support and funding from Plan International.