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Human Trafficking is Real Let us Protect one another. The Dialogue at Makerere University.

On the 14th of March 2013, we held a dialogue at Makerere University whose sole aim was to raise awareness about the alarming rates on human trafficking in Uganda. After a discussion with Rhionah Musoke the former deputy guild president we realized that 80% of the people that graduate from Makerere are unemployed. As a result they fall prey to this scourge of human trafficking.

Our sole desire was to raise awareness.

Stakeholders were involved in this dialogue; we had members of the civil society, the police force and the students of Makerere.

At exactly 2:00pm  the dialogue started, the dialogue kicked off with a mind-blowing discussion from Ms Agnes Igoye our main discussant.

Agnes is a Humphrey Fellow , Training Manager DCIC, International Advocacy Officer Chain Of Hope, National Coordinator Uganda-US Exchange Alumni Association, Member of the Clinton Global Initiative and above all passionate about Human trafficking issues.

Agnes Igoye speaking to the participants

Agnes Igoye speaking to the participants

In her presentation, she defined human trafficking as the recruiting and transportation of someone for the purposes of exploitation; labor, prostitution and organ trafficking.

Uganda is seen as the origin (internal and external trafficking), the transit (where victims pass through), and a destination (where people from other countries are brought in).

Human trafficking is organized crime and complicated because it is done underground, they use the victims in drug trafficking and arms race so it is sophisticated chain of crime.

Reasons why people get into trafficking; unemployment, poverty- however, the presenter argued that poverty was just a mindset this is usually driven by materialism and greed, armed conflict, child neglect and rejection, lack of awareness about Human trafficking and peer influence.

Most of the time people are trafficked for prostitution and cheap labor, they are promised heaven in form of high wages but in the end they deliver hell on earth.

She said that the victim profile ranges between 13 and 38.

How do the traffickers control their victims? Through with holding their documents, Language barrier, threatening with witchcraft, and because they have done a thorough investigation, they threaten to harm the families of the victims if they speak out and hook them to drugs.

Is there hope? She called upon every one that was present to be aware of what is going on in the country she called upon the participants to own this u and pass on the information to others.

“We have to know that human trafficking is real and we do our part.”

There is need to involve other parties, the government, consulates and embassies, lawmakers and other CSOs. Once the victims have come back home it is important to protect their image to make them secure and take them through a recovery process.

Present at the dialogue was the Uganda Police spokes Person Judith Nabakoba, she didn’t talk much but with her was a victim who gave her testimony.

The victim asked anonymity, in this article let me call her Mary.

It was one good morning when woman that was well known to her came to ask whether she would be willing to g to Malaysia to work in a boutique. She was taken to an elderly man to confirm this man had pictures of the boutique and she talked to the woman Faith on phone who affirmed that it is true there is a job. So quickly she started processing her papers, they got for her a passport, and paid the visa fees and the air ticket. She was instead taken to China; she was taken to a hotel called Tong Tong. She found the lady she had spoken to on phone.  She asked when she would begin work but this woman cut for  the chase when she told her that there was nothing such as a job or a boutique she was about to start work that night. But unfortunately the clothes that she had parked were not good enough for the job they were very long, so she was taken on a shopping spree for skimpy and more revealing clothes.

Reality slapped her in the face when she was taken to a place where she found other girls that were from Uganda they told her that the only job available was prostitution she had to make at least 7000 dollars a month. She wanted to run for dear life but she knew that she could contact someone from home; she contacted the woman that had linked her to faith, in turn the woman called Faith.

Mary was punished for her mischief she was clobbered and that night they brought her three Nigerian Men that were high on drugs they gang rapped her the whole night. She fell sick recovered by herself without any form of treatment. From that time she resigned to her fate, in the brothels, there was no food, only bread and water.

Faith claimed that Mary was becoming a bad influence on her friends so she was flown to Malaysia, she was determined not to leave the airport but then faiths accomplices cam for their cargo, so they took her to another brothel in the city.

In Malaysia she saw her friend Molly (Real name) killed, she was beaten up, denied food and then given away to men, more girls were being brought in from Uganda, some were as young as sixteen used of men.

She had had enough; she boarded a taxi to the airport with a friend.

At the airport, they were interrogated at the airport but they chose to keep silent they knew that at the airport they would be safer that going back to the hell they were in at the brothels, two months down the road they were still stuck at the airport with no hope, they then later told the airport officials to contact the foreign affairs of Uganda or even the consulate nothing was done immediately, she fell sick, she was bleeding, they rushed her to a nearby hospital in a critical condition, its only then that she realized that she was pregnant but the fetus had died in the womb, a surgery was done, he uterus removed. She tested positive.  This story got press attention and an organization offered two air tickets to bring them back home.

What kept her going in all this was the desire for justice she promised “I promised Faith a gift.”

As soon as her feet touched the Ugandan soil, she headed to police in Uganda. Right now Faith is being tried in the high court for crimes against humanity.

Mary called upon the participants to be vigilant to be alert because human trafficking is real

She is determined to raise awareness.

Listening carefully

Listening carefully

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We did the work Government took the Credit.

 My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition. Indira Gandhi.

AGI Uganda did the work, Ministry Of Gender, Labour and Social development took the credit. They stole a picture from our blog and before we knew it it was in their success magazine. I hear 50 years of equipping girls with skills. We are proud to be the ones with an  eye that sees the need of the people and then give the service even with the limited resources.

In the picture below is our very own Aisha and Barbra the trainer.

A scan from the Gender and development magazine Uganda,s Annual gender success story magazine. 2012

A scan from the Gender and development magazine Uganda,s Annual gender success story magazine. 2012


A Fresh start

It is a fresh start at AGI- Uganda as a new intake of girls gathered to begin their comprehensive training.

The girls have a number of expectations, they expect to have acquired skills by the end of the training. They hope to be better women and mothers in future that they’ll be able to take care of their families.
This comprehensive program involves behavioral change classes, psychosocial support, vocational training that includes hair dressing, tailoring.
AGI hopes to to see these girls transformed to leaders and they will be empowered to duplicate what they have learned to other members in their community, to empower them economically and spiritually.
Girls in Uganda face many challenges human trafficking for sexual slavery, teenage prostitution, early marriages, reproductive health issues. AGI will just reach a few at a time so it will take collective measures from the community to see that the life of these girls is handed back to them.

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‘We have been able to infiltrate the Slums in Uganda’ – Prudence Nyamishana

Youthhubafrica’s Rotimi Olawale caught up with Prudence Nyamishana in this exclusive interview where she shared about her work, successes, challenges as founder of the African Girl Initiative in Uganda. Edited by Sola Fagorusi http://youthhubafrica.org/2012/12/11/we-have-been-able-to-infiltrate-the-slums-in-uganda-prudence-nyamishana/

Prudence Nyamishana

Q: What inspired you to set up African Girl Initiative, Uganda?

Girls from less privileged families were dropping out of school at an early age. This left them with no choice but to get married. Those that would not get married would be subjected to teenage prostitution as a way to put food on their table.

Q: What is the African Girl Initiative all about and what have you set out to achieve?
It is about giving an alternative to girls by giving them a new hope by empowering them with entrepreneurial skills, business skills and social skills to live a successful and productive life. Ultimately,
AGI-Uganda is set out to restoring the dignity of the girl child that has been abused for generations.

Q: How have you been able to successfully raise support for the initiative?
Networking with other organizations has helped us raise support for the initiative an example is the Women of Uganda network and the Man up Campaign. We have also worked with young people from Universities around Kampala that have given freely of their time.

Q: What are your major achievements till date?
We have been able to infiltrate the slums of Bwaise that were unreachable before we ventured in. Many Ugandans feared the crime that was there but when we set up a Girls project in the slums, many other organizations picked interest and several other related programmes are being run in and around the slums.
We were hosted on a Live show on NBS a local television where we talked about the plight of the teenage prostitute in the urban areas and there has been an overwhelming response from the public stirring fire in the hearts of many Ugandans to reach out to the girl in the slum areas.

Q: What are your major challenges?
Our major challenges are sustainability, sometimes we run out of finances to run day to day activities. That makes it very difficult for us to work effectively. However, we encourage the girls to make products such as bags, jewelry, cloth designing and chair cushions for sale so that other girls from the slums can benefit from this project.

Beneficiaries of the African Girls Initiative Training learning to make cards

Beneficiaries displaying cards they made

Q: What problems do young girls face in Uganda and how best can they overcome these problems?
They include statutory rape, teenage prostitution, child marriages, forced marriages and child labour.

Q: One of your projects for girls under the initiative is a ‘Pay–it-Forward-Loan’. How did this work and how successful has this been?
The Pay-it-Forward-Loan is an amount of money that is given to the girls that successfully complete the entrepreneurship training programme. The girls are given three months grace period before they can start repaying the money. The intention is to encourage ownership of the businesses they have set up and to use that money as ‘pay it forward loan’ for the girls that are taken on in the next intake. So far paying back the loan is a very big challenge because of the high mobility rate in the slums. Following them up has posed a great challenge.

Q: Where do you see the initiative over the next 10years? What are your ambitions?
I see a strong network around East Africa that champions relentlessly for the girl child. I see the lives of Girls empowered to stand tall and make a difference in their generation. I see thousands of girls rehabilitated from teenage prostitution and a notable reduction in child marriages, and other forms of abuse.

Q: Do you see a conflict between family and career for women in Africa?
Most of the families in Uganda are breaking up because the women do not have time for their families. This has posed a challenge in Africa that is a male chauvinistic society. Therefore there will always be conflict caused by divergent gender roles. Unless men are empowered to drop the chauvinism that has been carried on from generation to generation, this conflict will always rage on.

Q: What advice do you have for young girls and women on the African Continent?
Women of Africa must take their place for such a time as this; the African women should continue to burn the candle that the women in Liberia set for them. The women of Africa should know that they are not second class citizens therefore must strive hard to prove to the world otherwise. The women of Africa should work hard and prove to the world that what a man can do a woman can do better.


Making a difference in the Lives of Girls in the Bwaise slum of Uganda

We are fully convinced that there is nothing more satisfying than making a difference in a life of another person. AGI is proud to have successfully completed the first project in Bwaise.  When we started it was like an illusion but many doors were opened along the way that enabled us move step by step. With collective efforts from friends of the AGI family at home and abroad, they made the project very successful. The reason why I am writing this story is for you to get a sneak peak of the lives of some the girls out of the forty that completed the programme.

Fatuma

Fatuma

My name is fatuma, I am seventeen. I stopped school in primary seven due to lack of school fees. I stay with my two sisters. I became a family head when I was ten my mother and father passed away. I thank God that I am still alive. Three months ago I was told about an upcoming programme with an organization. Deep inside me, I knew that I didn’t stand a chance of being selected because I knew nobody that could speak out for me nor did I have a coin to bribe my way in. luckily, I was recruited. I have learned a lot of things but above all I have learned how to braid hair. the care and attention I have received these three months I have never gotten before. I am very convinced that I can pay for my sisters in secondary school once they get there.  There are things I never even dreamed of ever achieving my future has been handed back to me.”

Maxine Birungi

I was clueless I didn’t know what to do since my school days were over.  I heard about this programme. I was at that time looking for a job just any job.  I felt like I had reached the end of the line. I guess it is God that sent these people when I joined I was praying hard that they indeed fulfill their promises. The people were so good and I kept thinking they might bring a bill for me to pay. I thank God that this time has turned my life around. I have hope. I do not need to go sell my body to earn a shilling or two I have a skill. I cannot reward these people it is only the almighty God that will reward them.”

Maria

“I am Maria, I stay alone my father and mother separated they got married to other people leaving me with no place to belong. I started hassling making ends meet but it was an uphill task. Before joining the AGI programme, I was so unruly  because I knew that I had no one to account to. I started small businesses but they kept failing. I went to work in a salon to wash their towels and clean the salon but as I told you earlier I was very big headed so I could not last at a job even two weeks. When the AGI people showed up and someone whispered it into my ears, I joined. But to my dismay, s all they taught was discipline in the first weeks.  I was getting bored but every time I wanted to walk away, a voice inside me told me to hang around. Just when I was thinking that that was my last day to attend, I was selected to be the leader of my class. This responsibility kept me around and thank God I did not walk away.  The opportunity of making friends in this group was just enough for me. I know that I am a better person. I know that I can look forward to a better tomorrow.”

Ruth in black

“My name is Ruth. I am a 22 year old  single mother. My child’s father took off as soon as he heard I was pregnant. Life has been so hard my mother was supporting both of us I do odd jobs here and there. I thank the Lord so much that He gave me this opportunity to gain a skill and I know that I will not be at the mercy of a man if I ever get married like many of my friends.  My life has been changed completely.”

 

Bashirah

“My name is Bashira Asiimwe kisakye I am sixteen. Just when life was squeezing me, I got an opportunity to join the AGI programme. I was very stubborn and I disturbed facilitators a lot. I am embarrassed that I am the only one that got a suspension during this programme. Miss Prudence was so angry with me that she threw me out of the programme. I was just being silly after apologizing in vain, one day mum received a call calling me back. I tried my best to behave I thank God for these skills that I have gained the wonderful teachers that I had.  I badly want to go back to school and I know that this skill will help me to raise money to take me back to school I have very big dreams and I know that I will get there.”

Well those are just a few stories from the girls. As for us at AGI we are looking forward to the next lot like bush fire we shall spread. Our joy is to see the lives of the girl child empowered. You can get involved in making a difference in the lives of the girls by getting in touch with us on our email at agiuganda@gmail.com 0r call +256789653297


Asha’s story

Every one of us has dreams and ambitions for some it is an easy road, for millions of girls in Uganda it is an uphill journey because they have been born in abject poverty.  These are girls that become women tomorrow, if they do not become mothers at an early age, chances that they will end up in brothels are so high, and because they are fully dependent on the mercy of a man they become victims of domestic violence or worse still HIV Aids.  They leave with dead hopes, dead dreams, dead ambitions and what is left of their short lives??

Two months down the road, the girls in the AGI comprehensive programme have a story to tell. Today’s story is about Asha Nanyanzi, she is a nineteen year old girl. After completion of primary seven through a Universal primary school Education, she joined a secondary school for form one and two half way form two; she dropped out of school because of lack of school fees. She comes from a staunch Moslem home where the father has four wives. All the four wives have divorced so she stays with her dad and many more other siblings she jokes that it is like a school.

When all hopes seemed a distant reality. She is lucky to have survived an early marriage, her future at bay and hoping to get started with petty business.   When AGI called on for registration Asha showed up in her white veil while her peers run to select hair braiding, she insisted that she wanted to learn tailoring,

Asha now has an opportunity to have a sewing machine all to her self with a skilled trainer.  Right now the reserved Asha‘s stitches are perfect. Although she is not good at theory she has a skilled hand that is capable of exploiting the sewing machine to make anything you ask her to.

Asha has come up with a bag making concept which we have named Nanyanzi naming after the designer. This is a lady’s handbag that has been appreciated by many that have had a glance at it.  This is an item that she hopes to specialize in to make a living.

This is one of them Barbra Asha's trainer shows off one of the bags


Let’s have some Fun

“Let us celebrate the radiant beauty of today’s girls who are tomorrows indispensable women.” Manpreet Rehal

It was a fun-packed weekend at AGI. The 12-15 class learned the art of card making. Andrew Mugisha a graphic designer with Devterch, shared his skill with the girls and how they can use this skill to earn a living now or in the future.

This is what we came up with

After the day’s work it was fun time. We went to Makerere University swimming pool. It was an experience of a lifetime for those who had never seen what a pool looks like.Screams of excitement marked the air.

Pay attention

Guys I am having fun!


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