Female Report!

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Feature Article: Against all odds – the reality for Uganda’s young women

Written by Pat Brennan.

uganda_final_blog_post_girl_study_in_doorwayIn many parts of the world children struggle to get by without even the basics in life – nutritious food, an education, a safe home and loving parents. It doesn’t have to be this way. Pat Brennan explains why.

When I returned from my first visit to Uganda in August, 2007, I remember saying to family and friends, “I feel like I’ve just watched myself on Comic Relief.” Such were the sad and heartbreaking experiences I’d witnessed.

I’d been to visit the homes of two girls called Jackie and Justine. I can still recall walking into Justine’s house, an old curtain serving as the door. For us in our developed countries, it was more of a roof over their heads. But for Justine and her family it was their home and they were very pleased to welcome me into it. I was greeted warmly by Justine’s mam and I sat on what was the only chair, indeed the only furniture – a wooden plank held up by two bricks.

Justine’s mam had probably never been to school and spoke no English, but from the wide smile on her face, it was obvious she was grateful for my visit. I asked Justine where they all slept. She smiled and pointed to the floor.

Recently orphaned

I’ve now been to Uganda five times. After my most recent visit there I received an email from a young university friend, Phiona. She told me about the rural area she was staying in near the Uganda-Congo border. Phiona was doing some work experience during her long vacation, interpreting for some American medic friends and undertaking her own lab work at Bwindi Community Hospital.

One day the four of them were working high up in the mountains when they came across a girl who’d recently been orphaned and was attempting to look after her younger siblings. Because Phiona knew I’d be keen to help, she suggested I contact a lady called Josline at Bwindi Community Hospital to find out more.

Josline emailed me the girl’s background story: After the death of her parents, 13-year-old Mawazo is now the head of her family, with four younger siblings to care for. Their immediate relatives not only refuse to help, they stole their property and land. And although there’s an uncle living near by, he’s too poor to give any support. So, they live alone in an old one-roomed, grass-thatched hut in a village called Mukongoro – the last village on the hilltop at the border of Uganda and Congo.

Mawazo is a hardworking, intelligent girl. Then there’s Samwiri (aged 10), Eliya (7), Aaron (5) and Kellen (3). None of the children go to school. Mawazo used to, but had to ‘drop out’ to look after the younger children.

Severely malnourished

Girl at school in Dosso District, Niger with her hand upThe Bwindi Hospital Community Team became aware of Mawazo when they visited the village during their routine malnutrition screening and mass de-worming programme. Samwiri was severely malnourished and was admitted to the hospital. After intense treatment, he was discharged, but unfortunately has had to be re-admitted on several occasions.

The Community Health Team asked hospital staff to support the children and, as a result, they supplied them with food, including posho, beans, maize flour, sugar and butter. Now, with regular checks, Samwiri is making slow, but positive progress.

Mawazo and her siblings badly need an improved shelter, food, clothing, health care and the opportunity to receive a school education. If these basic requirements are met, the chances of the children’s survival will increase greatly. This very sad and very shocking situation is not a story, but reality. It’s something with which we, in our own developed countries, find it hard to empathise.

University graduates

But what of Jackie and Justine, the two girls I met on my first trip to Uganda? I sponsor and mentor the two girls who’ve both successfully graduated from university and are busy working. In fact, my family and I have been sponsoring children for many years now through my friend Fr Charlie Beirne, who works in Mbarara, Uganda.

The success of Jackie and Justine gives us so much pride and pleasure. They’re both from very humble backgrounds and they’d never have arrived at where they are now in life, without help, guidance and direction.

Education isn’t free in Uganda, so without funding, children aren’t able to attend school.  Throughout the underdeveloped world, there are similar children to Jackie and Justine, or Mawazo and her siblings, trying to survive when all the odds are stacked against them.

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14 comments on “Feature Article: Against all odds – the reality for Uganda’s young women

  1. sabah
    October 17, 2013

    NICE ARTICLE ABOUT UGANDAIN WOMEM AND AFRICAN WOMEN IN GENERAL
    ALL THE BEST

    • Pat Brennan
      November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Sabah for your kind words, but many apologies for my delay in replying to you. Would you like to communicate with me? My email address is pb002a5509@blueyonder.co.uk

      Take care and best wishes,

      Patrick,(Pat).

      • sabah
        November 7, 2013

        thank you you for your kind reply my best regards and wishes

    • Pat Brennan
      November 8, 2013

      Thank you again, Sabah. Would you like to communicate with me by usual email address? I think you already have my email address, but it is pb002a5509@blueyonder.co.uk

      Take care and best wishes,

      Pat.

      • sabah
        November 9, 2013

        nice great articles written by you on women affairs all over the world i support women rights specaily in the third world communities accept my best regards

  2. joycefowi
    October 17, 2013

    Good afternoon!
    This is an issue all over africa if you go to mombasa freretown kisauni you find the same thing going on in the village i think it needs to be a big campaign across africa and that we need to come together and share the vision and make sure that they is some one there to pass the baton onto.

    • Pat Brennan
      November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Joyce, form your kind words, but so sorry for my delay. Would you like to communicate with me? My email address is pb002a5509@blueyonder.co.uk

      Take care and best wishes,

      Patrick,(Pat).

  3. Nshemerirwe Jackie
    October 28, 2013

    Jackie,

    Am very very greatful for Pat.Am fully what am bse he lives. Thank you Pat with ur family for your big Support. I will always remember you,love you and cherish you. God Bless You.

  4. Caroline Amutuhaire
    November 11, 2013

    I read this article almost everyday. I thank God for the day I met Pat. That was in 2007. You are a very kind man and you have done so much for Uganda and its people. May God continue to bless the work of your hands. You will always be my mentor. Carol

    • Pat Brennan
      November 12, 2013

      My dear Carol,

      Many thanks for this fantastic message. Wow! You read my article just about every day! Thank you for that. I thank God for the day I first met you. You mean the world to me, as also all of your loving and appreciative family.

      All my love,

      Pat.

  5. asalihen
    November 13, 2013

    well done Pat. i have heard so much about you and your big heart. May God bless you dearly.
    it true every where in Africa and beyond. May we all have the grace to offer every little support we can. bless you again.

    • Pat Brennan
      November 13, 2013

      Dear Asalihen,

      Many thanks for your very kind reply to my above article. Have I called you by your correct name? If I haven’t, please advise me as to what I should call you please? From what you are saying, it sounds like you know somebody who knows me very well? Can I respectfully ask you who you are, how you know about me and who you know, who also know me?

      Thank you for your very kind and thoughful reply to me, when you write, ” I have heard so much about you and thank you for your big heart.! Wow, that is fantastic!

      It would be great to communicate with you by usual email address, which is usually how I prefer to communicate with friends. My email address is pb002a5509@blueyonder.co.uk

      I look forward to hear from you soon

      Take care, best wishes and thank you once again.

      Pat.

  6. gloria
    November 13, 2013

    November 13, 2013

    well done Pat. i have heard so much about you and your big heart. May God bless you dearly.
    it true every where in Africa and beyond. May we all have the grace to offer every little support we can. bless you again.

    • Pat Brennan
      November 13, 2013

      Dear Gloria,

      Many thanks for your very kind reply. It sounds from what you are saying, that you have heard about me? Can I respectfully ask you who you are, how you know about me and who is it you know, who also knows me well?

      Many thanks for your very kind words, when you write, “I have heard so much about you and thank you for your big heart.” That is fantastic!

      I usually prefer to communicate with friends by the usual email address, My email address is pb002a5509@blueyonder.co.uk

      I look forward to hear from you soon.

      Take care and best wishes.

      Pat.

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