Chemutai Evelyn is 12 years from Achorichor Village, Looro Sub-County in Amudat District and an Adolescent Volunteer in P.6 at Katikit Primary School. Her involvement as an adolescent volunteer helped her make very important choices in her life. When Schools were forced to close due to the COVID19 Pandemic, Chemutai was forced to stay at a protection center in Kalas Girls Primary School, a school not far away from her school because she knew she would not be safe at home where she stays with the sister. Her sister’s husband had had intentions of forcing her to get married saying he didn’t have any money to pay for her school fees.
“My Sister’s husband told me that I am now fit to be someone’s wife and wanted to make an arrangement to marry me off”, Chemutai.
At the Protection Centre, Chemutai stays with 25 other survivors of child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Child neglect among others of differing ages, in classes One to Seven and Secondary who all escaped from different locations in Amudat district for safety and protection at the center.
Transferring her Adolescent Volunteer knowledge, skills and experience in the service for others, Chemutai is currently a leader at the protection center, gives the others self-assurance and stability despite their different stories and uncertain situations. Funded by the local government, TMF-UNICEF and other actors, the protection center gives distressed girls a safe space for them to learn a few skills supported by the school and fellow peers with Chemutai in the lead, while being protected from dangers like Child/Forced Marriage, FGM, child abuse etc. given that the only safe spaces they had were their schools which are now closed.
The extra sessions Chemutai leads like teaching them how to read and write, making table clothes promote the girls’ learning outside of their usual classroom time, giving them more exposure to the different important skills and cementing their learning. With the lockdown still in place, it has been the best moment for her to mentor them to develop the love for school
“As an Adolescent Volunteer, I challenge myself to do something for the betterment of my fellow peers, I orient new entrants to the protection center, act as a translator and also go ahead to teach them how to read and write and how to make table clothes because some of them had never attended school”. –Chemutai
Chemutai also leads sessions for the other girls, coaching them in English language skills so they can communicate with their head teacher who only speaks English to them because she does not understand the local language. These sessions gives the other girls yet another context in which they can practice English, enriching their learning and building their confidence of speaking too.
“Chemutai takes lead to ensure that all the 25 girls are learning something,stay safe, have eaten and are comfortable at the Center”, Sr. Dorothy Sserabide, the Deputy Head teacher of Kalas Girls Primary School.
By end of 10 days, two girls had already learnt how to write their names which was a plus to Chemutai and her wish is for schools to reopen again so that her friends can begin the formal classes to learn.
“Chemutai has been supportive of me from day one when I arrived at the center and I pledged to her to remain in school till I finish no matter the circumstances surrounding me”, Rotuno Agnes.