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150 Teenagers in Luwero Acquire Life Skills to Deal With Lockdown

Safe Spaces was launched after the March 2020 directive by President Yoweri Museveni to have all schools and learners sent home following the outbreak COVID 19. The pandemic has since ravaged economies across the globe and killed over five million people.
Teenagers learning hairdressing at Kasoma Safe Space in Luwero Town Council

Audio 5

More than 150 teenagers in Luwero Town Council have been empowered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and combat the impact of COVID 19 lockdown.

In 2020, Team Uganda, a civil society organization in Luwero with support from Children Rights and Violence Prevention Fund introduced Safe Spaces programme to help teenagers acquire skills as well as avoid risks that can lead to early and unwanted pregnancies.

Safe Spaces was launched after the March 2020 directive by President Yoweri Museveni to have all schools and learners sent home following the outbreak COVID 19. The pandemic has since ravaged economies across the globe and killed over five million people.   In Uganda alone, the virus has killed more than 3,250 people since the first case was reported in late March 2020, just days after the president ordered all schools closed and learners sent home.

As parents and learners wait to resume normal classroom learning in January next year, at least 16,163 teenagers in Luwero district alone have been impregnated in the past one year. Of these, 442 are girls below the age of 15 years.

In Luwero Town Council, Safe Spaces has enrolled 150 teenagers from zones of Kizito, Kiyenje, Kasoma, Mabbale and Kasana Piida.  The programme brings together teenagers who are trained at a “safe space” under a tree in either schools or community leaders’ homes.

Adah Nansimbe was pursuing a certificate in Fashion and Design at Hermitage Vocational School before school closures in 2020. She decided to enroll in the safe space held under a tree at Luwero Islamic Primary School where she has learned to make liquid soap, flowers, sanitary pads, and envelopes among other skills.

Nansimbe, now aged 17 years, makes liquid soap which she sells in her neighborhood to get some money. She says that the safe spaces have helped her to use the COVID-19 lockdown productively and avoid temptations that could lead her into getting pregnant.

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Luganda Bite

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Vivian Naggawa, who is 19 years, dropped out of school in 2019 for lack of fees and resorted to selling shoes in weekly markets before they were closed during lockdown.

She enrolled in Kizito Zone Victorious Girl safe space to get life skills and she is also making liquid soap which sells in her neighborhood. Naggawa is being trained in hairdressing so as to open up a saloon and earn a living.

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Racheal Nabbumba, a senior one student at Amazing Grace Secondary School, says that although she will return to school in January next year, her mother has promised to support her to make and sell sanitary pads among the learners at school. 

The safe spaces programme has also attracted and restored hope among child mothers who are struggling to look after themselves.

A 19-year-old mother says that the skills will help her to start off a business and look after the baby. Other mothers said the safe spaces have offered them counseling and relieved them of stress after giving birth at an early age.

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Eric Musaazi, the director of Team Uganda, says that apart from life skills, they have also given relief packages worth 171,000 shillings to some child mothers to survive during the lockdown.

Musaazi says that even after the lockdown is lifted, they will continue to train teenage girls who may be unable to return to schools so as to equip them with life skills for a living.

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After learning, the teenagers also engage in netball and other sports activities.