Humanists Helping Pregnant Girls in Uganda

February 6, 2014

Since the beginning of time, becoming pregnant without sufficient means to maintain oneself and one’s baby has been a guaranteed path to hard times. In the event of the man refusing to play his part rearing the child, the girl’s plight has been dire. Right to the present day, teenage mothers are subject to vicious superstitions. Even when they have been raped, everything still ends up being their fault.

For some girls in this situation in Uganda, the humanist relief agency HALEA is there to help. HALEA (Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability) is working in the slums of Kampala to give these girls some sort of future. Without help, their future is grim. Unless a man takes an interest, they often have little choice except prostitution. Since 2011 HALEA has been working with a group of girls in the local district it is based in. It began after a survey of its immediate neighborhood found 111 teenage mothers, nearly all out of school and unemployed. Religious superstitions are such in Uganda, that pregnant girls are often thrown out of the family home and suspended from school. Unemployed and homeless, they quickly become prey to unscrupulous relatives or to organised crime.

Faced with a daunting problem in their own back yard, HALEA supporters began by helping those girls willing to return to school. This often meant persuading the school authorities of their legal obligations. And usually, it also meant HALEA taking on the ongoing school expenses on the girls’ behalf. 26 of them returned to their studies. Another 21 were given some basic computer skills and nine undertook other vocational training.

Although HALEA is independent of CFI, we’re very much interested and enthusiastic about their work. A donation made by CFI last year of a motorbike to HALEA helped materially with their programme. Monitoring the progress of each girl, staying in different locations, meant the motorbike was an essential part of the program.

Sadly, this year HALEA is cutting back its program due to lack of funds. In Uganda it costs about US$440 to keep a teenager in vocational training for a year. Overall HALEA has helped 57 girls, but this year the programme is only able to support the ten girls still at school. —  CFI is concerned about this cutback, and will be happy to take donations on HALEA’s behalf for this program, or you can donate directly to the HALEA website.