Finding Strength Through Child Rights: Proscovia’s Story
Eighteen-year-old Proscovia Nsungwa is a second year student at Dorcas Vocation School, Kaihura District,Uganda. Before joining the vocation school, Proscovia had dropped out of Bwikara Senior Secondary School, Kibale District, at age 16 because she could not pay her school fees. Only four of Proscovia’s eleven siblings attend school, and her large family depends completely on cultivating crops to survive. Both of Proscovia’s parents tested HIV positive four years ago.
Most of the children in Proscovia’s community do not attend school regularly and few complete upper secondary school. Reaching university level is very rare. After realizing Proscovia’s family was struggling, her local pastor offered to help her complete secondary school. Proscovia’s pastor now contributes fifty percent of her school fees, and her parents pay for the other half when they are able. “Without our pastor’s mercy, I would not have returned to school,” says Proscovia. “I’m grateful that I can continue my education, despite my family’s difficult situation.”
Dorcas Vocation School participates in the Bringing Hope to the Family initiative, a Bantwana-supported organization in that provides education, health, and social welfare services to orphaned and vulnerable children and HIV-infected children. Together, Bantwana and Bringing Hope to the Family encouraged students to form a Child Rights Club through which they can become advocates and educate other children about issues related to child protection.
Proscovia joined the Child Rights Club and also contributed to Bantwana’s Child Protection Booklet, a workbook created for and by children to help them understand their rights and responsibilities, and to discuss ways to respond to violations or abuses of their rights. “The Child Rights Club opened my eyes and empowered me to write because the topics discussed were closely related to my real life experience and other child protection issues in my community,” Proscovia says. “In the club, I feel complete because I talk about things I know and have lived through.”
Sharing her experiences with other people by writing for the Child Protection Booklet was therapeutic for Proscovia, and she feels inspired to write more stories now that the first booklet is published. “I am surprised and pleased to learn that there are people in the community who care about children’s rights and are who willing to listen to and address our cry,” she says.
Proscovia also appreciated Bantwana’s help creating the Child Protection Booklet, which she believes will bring positive change to other communities. “The stories in the booklet remind me that other children in the community also have difficult circumstances,” she says. Proscovia thinks that the Child Rights Club can accomplish even more, and she plans to advocate for children’s rights in her own community. She also wants to encourage other children to attend school and talk freely with their parents about child protection issues.
Assuming the role of true spokesperson, Proscovia states, “I now call upon other children to protect themselves, advocate for their rights, and fight against all forms of abuse that hinder us from becoming better citizens in the future.”