How Peace for Women is saving teenage mothers in West Nile
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
ARUA. Jane Driwaru (not real name) is a 16-year-old teenage mother in Manibe Ward, Ayivu Division in Arua City.
Driwaru conceived at the age of 14 while in P.3 at Oreku primary school in Manibe Ward. She later dropped out of school and decided to stay with her mother in Ariko A cell since the father of the child who is equally a teenager couldn’t manage to take care of the family.
Life became very hard thereafter as Driwaru struggled to raise money through casual work to cater for the baby’s day-to-day needs including clothing. At this stage, the teen mother lost all the hope of going back to school.
However, luck was still there for Driwaru as officials from Peace for Women – West Nile, a community-based organization (CBO) in the West Nile region, got wind of the situation and came to her rescue.
“When we heard about her (Driwaru’s) situation, we went to visit her. We bought for her some clothes, soap, food, milk for the baby and also gave her psycho-social support. We later bought for her some scholastic materials and encouraged her to go back to school. We are very happy that Driwaru went back to P.4 at Oreku primary school this year,” Peace Kency Abaru, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Peace for Women West Nile said.
Driwaru is one of the many teenage mothers Peace for Women – West Nile is helping to come out of such conditions.
Abaru said most of the cases of teenage pregnancy they have come across in Manibe Ward are as a result of domestic violence.
When contacted, Judith Drate, the Arua city community development officer said the levels of domestic violence in the city have been on the increase as a result of Covid-19 effect.
She said as of January to November 2023, they have had a number of cases that have come up already.
Drate noted that from police record, their defilement cases are now at 155, the rape cases are 6, domestic violence are 313, indecent assault are 4 and death caused by domestic violence are currently at 2.
But she said what makes them think that the above record may not tally with incidents which are happening is that many of the cases in the city go unreported.
“We are currently running our activities in Manibe Ward, Ayivu Division specifically in Robu Parish where we are in five cells. As per now, our main focus is on gender-based violence (GBV) and education. If you may realize, in Manibe, the rate of school dropout is very high which is basically because of domestic violence. When you have GBV at home, there is no peace, you then realize that the children you are to nurture will not listen to you. They will be like if my parents are doing this why can’t I get married to have peace and as a result, they end up being impregnated hence dropping out of school at an early age,” Abaru explained.
“Why we are addressing the teenage pregnancy challenge is that by the year 2030, we want to see that all girls and women are empowered. At the same time, we want to restore hope in teenage girls who drop out of school due to early marriage and teenage pregnancy. So, we support them with scholastic materials and we also give them sanitary pads. By doing so, our main vision here is to see a world where women, girls and people with disabilities achieve their economic, social and justice rights. We encourage women to have their own voice,” Abaru said.
Besides, Abaru observed that they also do skilling of girls and women in liquid soap making and provision of basic functional adult literacy.
“Our main problem right now is lack of funds. We are actually crying out for support so that we can extend our activities beyond Manibe ward to see that by the year 2030, the girls and women in West Nile are in school and also empowered economically,” Abaru remarked.