The Engender Girls' Experience of Kapelebyong

8TH DEC 2020

Article by: Mentee Isabel Byaruhanga, 15 years

On Friday, 20th of November, 2020, a group of the Engender Girls' Mentorship Team comprised of Mentees and Mentors took a long journey to Kapelebyong; a District in North Eastern Uganda. It is a rather small and homely District where we went to reach out to underprivileged teenage mothers.

As you may be aware, teenage pregnancies, among other factors, are adding to the number of girls who are not in school. Before COVID-19, there were over 98 million adolescent girls worldwide who were not in school. Research suggests the pandemic may contribute an additional 20 million.

Well, as part of the efforts of Engender Girls' Mentorship Programme to mitigate this challenge but also give hope to the teenage mothers; we set out at 6:00 am. on this day, the events of the coming afternoon were long awaited and you could feel the excitement coming from the girls, behind the sleepiness (it was 6:00am). I remember Mentor Josephine (commonly referred to as Mentor Jo) asking Beautiful Michelle and I what we thought we were going to do at Kapelebyong. Mentor Jo herself was waiting to find out! Most of us couldn’t even pronounce the name of the District.

The journey we embarked on was long - it was approximately 12 hours actually. And for a moment, I thought we were going to spend the whole day in the van. Fortunately, we had each other and Mentor Martha to keep ourselves chatty and happy (if we weren’t sleeping, of course). So, to the very least it was still an enjoyable journey.

Even though it is said that; when travelling, it is about the journey, not the destination, the events that happened at the desired venue were unforgettable and I personally learnt more than I could’ve imagined from it. The moment our van reached the place where the mothers were gathered, they erupted in ululations to express their happiness to see us. Apparently, they had been waiting for us since the morning (!). We were formally greeted and welcomed by a lady named Harriet, who had gathered all the teenage mothers we were going to meet and she is also contesting for Woman MP of Kapelebyong District.

The writer distributes Mama Kits to teenage mothers.

The total number of teenage girls there were approximately 150 and more half of them had already given birth to some children, and those were only from 3 Sub-counties! It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of these young girls and how badly they have been affected in this current lockdown, especially. Most of them were manipulated and their naivety was taken advantage of by very disgusting GROWN men. It really warms my heart to know that we have really changed and helped some of these marginalized individuals.

The writer distributes Mama Kits to teenage mothers.

We donated Mama Kits to the nearly delivering pregnant ones which have everything that will help them give birth. We then distributed sugar to the ones who already gave birth and the early pregnant ones got iron supplement tablets.
We also had a one-on-one discussion with a few of the teenage girls and heard some of their stories. It is important to let people feel loved when they are at their lowest. All the items donated were purchased by supportive parents of Engender Girls who each contributed money worth one or two Mama Kits. One outstanding Engender Mentee who is a candidate in senior four mobilized her relatives to contribute a Mama Kit in lieu of sending her success cards.

The very next day, we all thought that we were heading for Kampala and when we were in Mbale and took an unusual turn, everyone was fairly confused. Turns out, we were surprised with a hike to the famous Sipi Falls! It was an enjoyable, yet tiring hike but we got to learn how the Kupsabiny tribe also known as the Sabiny came from Ethiopia and coffee was too, derived from Ethiopia! We took very comical photos with the Sipi Falls including ones that make us look like we are drinking from, holding, vomiting and even using the falls to wash our hands! We then, obviously, had to head back to Kampala where we found our loving parents waiting for us :).

The Sipi Falls experience

All in all, the trip to Kapelebyong was a very beautiful, informative and fun trip and it really makes one realise how lucky and privileged we are and what I have definitely learnt is to be aware of my privileges and accept them, then find a way to use my privilege to help oppressed, marginalized and underprivileged people, like, helping them where they need and accepting to have it. What have you learnt from this experience?

Our Partners

EGENDER's partners are instrumental in our efforts towards the girl-child mentoring. We carry out this work in collaboration with our network of individuals, organizations and charities. We are deeply grateful to our supporters in the private, public and nonprofit sectors that have worked with us to combine resources, talent and influence toward ensuring that mentoring is safe and effective for the girl youth.