Jennifer Achiro is the initiator of Child Mothers Initiative Uganda. Jennifer who is a Lawyer is determined to make a big change in her country. Jennifer is working hard to reduce teenage pregnancy in Uganda as she revealed in an interview with Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable
Why is your NGO out to empower teenage mothers?
Uganda has for some time now had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa – at over 25% – despite the existence of a law criminalizing defilement. According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, the percentage of teen mothers has increased from 3.7% in 2006 to 6.6% in 2011.
What are the reasons?
Factors such as poverty, insufficient sexual and reproductive health education,insecurity, archaic cultural beliefs and norms have caused the tremendous rise. Given the current influx of refugees from South Sudan into Uganda, it is believed that this number will increase. This has resulted in child-headed households because the husbands abandoned teen mothers, while their families effectively abandoned them because they consider the young mothers to be mature people with adult responsibilities who can take care of themselves and raise their children. The teenage mothers are left with responsibilities to care for their families amidst the difficulties therein. It’s for this reason that I founded Child Mothers Initiative Uganda in 2016, a not for profit organization to economically empower teenage mothers in Northern Uganda, by providing them with opportunities to earn income that will lift their families out of extreme poverty and send their children to decent schools.
How are you working to achieve this?
To achieve this, we make and sell a wide selection of beaded jewelry products that are handmade from recycled paper and crafted into necklaces, earrings, bracelets, handbags and clutches among others. Our project encourages and promotes the use of locally available resources to solve day to day problems of teenage mothers who would otherwise earn barely a dollar a day.
We provide skills development in a method that does not require complex knowledge and easily available and accessible hence sustainable in the long run. It is also environmental friendly. We believe that by doing that , we will help children stay in school and be able to complete their education. This will reduce the number of girls who drop out of school to get married which in turn reduces teenage pregnancies in the long run.
Do you have plans of expansion ?
Yes, we plan to venture into agriculture with major focus on fruit and vegetables farming. We believe that such avenue will enable us to expand on our income base and be in position to better serve child headed households and send more children to school.
What are the challenges facing your NGO?
Our biggest challenge now is limited market for our products. We are therefore open for partnerships with individuals and institutions within and outside Africa to sell our products. Such institutions could be safari lodges, hotels, universities, shops that sell jewelries from across Africa, and the global organization of shops 10000 Villages among others. This will enable us to expand our market and in turn raise money to send children to school.