A future for teenage mothers and their children in Uganda

Caritas Switzerland prevents, alleviates and combats poverty in Switzerland and more than 30 countries around the world. The aid agency works closely with partner organisations for this purpose. In Uganda (East Africa), Caritas Switzerland and its local partner organisation, Christian Counseling Fellowship (CCF), give young mothers access to education and vocational training. This allows both organisations to contribute towards the economic and social integration of the mothers, and to ensure a better future for their children.

TEXAID and Caritas Switzerland
TEXAID was founded in 1978 as a charity-based private partnership by Caritas Switzerland, five other Swiss aid organisations and a private partner. The goal of this partnership was to transform traditional and hitherto independently operated clothing collections into a professional, environmentally friendly and economically viable value chain. The majority of the revenue generated by TEXAID via the sale of collected textiles is donated to its six participating aid agencies and other charitable organisations. This revenue allows Caritas Switzerland to finance a portion of its own projects, including the project for teenage mothers and their children in Uganda.

Project background
Ugandan women and girls are often victims of sexual violence and exploitation. Young girls, in particular, are forced into prostitution, child labour and marriage. Most parents consider it a waste to send their daughters to school, and marry them off at a young age. Many of the girls who continue to attend school become pregnant – either because they have been prostituted or sexually abused, or within their marriage. In Uganda, pregnancy or birth are usually considered to be sufficient reasons for unconditional expulsion from school. The high rate of school drop-outs is a major problem. According to a study conducted by UNICEF in 2014, 71 % of pupils do not finish primary school. The proportion of girls in this situation is even higher.

Nwoya Girls Academy
CCF set up the Nwoya Girls Academy in order to allow pregnant girls and young mothers to access education outside the state system. It is the only boarding school in the district and has its own secondary school, a vocational training centre and a nursery. Thanks to an accelerated teaching programme, the girls are initially given the opportunity to catch up on what they have missed at school. They can then gain a normal school-leaving qualification, which opens the doors to continuing education. CCF also enables the girls to complete vocational training in the fields of hospitality, hotel work, dressmaking or hairdressing.

In addition, CCF offers around 120 girls and young women who have been the victims of sexual violence and exploitation emergency shelter from their tormentors in safe accommodation. It also ensures simplified access to medical treatment, psychological care and legal support, thus improving the future prospects of mother and child.

Awareness-raising and education measures among the parents of the girls and the population at large also seek to guard against sexual exploitation and abuse.

Learn more about Caritas Switzerland and the project in Uganda here.