Students Aid in Cultivating a Non-Violent, Supportive School Setting
Osama J., 15, decided to support his female classmates by sewing and distributing reusable sanitary pads so that girls in his class could comfortably study. Osama, a member of the Child’s Rights Club at Habakuku Primary School in Kyenjojo District, Western Uganda, says the plight of girls in his family and school moved him to act.
“I wanted to help my sisters make pads so that my parents can reduce their costs buying from the shops,” he said. “Also, I used to see girls in my class feel uncomfortable and sometimes look sick.”
The Western Uganda Bantwana Program introduced Child’s Rights Clubs in 20 schools in the Kyenjojo, Kabarole, and Bunyangabu districts. Under the guidance of an adult mentor, these clubs provide a safe space for boys and girls to discuss the rights and responsibilities of children, issues of sexual violence, early marriages, and early pregnancies. These messages are passed on to club members through activities such as handicrafts sessions, music, dance and drama, sports, club meetings/debates, and girl talks.
Osama says that he is proud of the knowledge and skills he has developed through the club because more girls confide in him and reach out for support.
The Child’s Rights Clubs also promote peer-to-peer counseling to ensure that youth find solutions to their problems, without the use of violence. Since the program was introduced, 643 children (65 percent female) have been reached and empowered to use tools such as the “speak-out box” as a means of reporting and responding to violence. Through these activities, youth gain confidence and assertiveness which enables them to report their issues to mentors, teachers and other trusted community.
Osama says that he is now living his dream and looks forward to completing his education.
“After my studies, I want to help children in need and become a journalist,” he said.