Empowering Women To Escape The Cruel Realities Of Poverty Through Education – One Village

Empowering Women to escape the Cruel Realities of Poverty through Education – One Village
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As the sun begins to rise over Namwendwa, a rural village of eastern Uganda, clusters of children begin to gather around their closest borehole. Most of them barefoot and wearing their second hand t-shirts that have been stained from the orange dust and often threadbare from being handed down to every sibling in the family. In Namwendwa, this time of the morning is so peaceful and it seems so normal to be awake and productive at five in the morning.

Collecting the daily household supply of water from the well is one of the many chores children in rural villages like Namwendwa are tasked with. With 7 family members residing in an average household which has no electricity or running water, children and adolescents acquire a multitude of domestic responsibilities at an early age. Due to most families having to rely on their small plots of land for survival, sending a teenager to secondary school is not only a financial burden, but also leads to a reduction in their household's productivity. Therefore out of desperation typically a family in Namwendwa will not be able to send all, if any of their children to secondary school.

Without a secondary education young adults are forced to take on adult responsibilities and with these responsibilities comes a lifestyle. Female teenagers are particularity vulnerable and often enter transactional relationships where they exchange sex for material goods and then fall pregnant at an early age.

I met Helen Salaamu in 2013 in Uganda's capital, Kampala. I was with One Village's education co-coordinator Paul at the time. When I met her she was distressed and crying because she was scared about not being able to find employment as a primary school teacher and what that would mean for her family. Paul reassured Helen and made her feel better about her future.

After meeting Helen who was 19 at the time I was told about the adversities she had faced. When Helen was in her final year of primary school she lost both of her parents and became the breadwinner for her two younger brothers. Helen worked tirelessly on a small plot of land to grow vegetables that she could sell to pay for her school fees. Due to Helen's young age, older family members often stole the small amount of money she would save and on multiple occasions they would physically abuse her. After being sent home countless times for failing to pay for school, one concerned teacher from St. Peter High School counselled Helen and learnt about her journey. After receiving support from the community for secondary school fees Helen excelled at high school. When she graduated from secondary school she was awarded a One Village Scholarship to attend Primary Teachers College, which paid for her tuition fees, scholastic materials and living requirements.

Today Helen works full time as a primary school teacher and has purchased land so that she can sell produce to supplement her income to ensure that she can send her two younger brothers to school. Her youngest brother is in his final year at high school and her other brother is studying computer sciences. Once her brothers have finished study and found work Helen plans to undertake postgraduate studies so she can become a university lecturer.

Receiving a secondary and tertiary education is the reason Helen escaped the cruel realities of poverty. Her education meant she avoided entering transactional relationships and now has an income to support herself and family members. This is why One Village believes education is the most effective way to empower younger people so that they can create change and development within their own communities.

Helen's story is one of many positive anecdotes about the impact a One Village scholarship has had on the lives of the people in the rural of Uganda, Namwendwa.

One Village is a 100% voluntary run organisation so every dollar contributed really makes a big difference to improve the lives of those most in need.

If you would like to find out more about One VIllage or make a financial contribution to our scholarship programme please visit www.onevillage.org.au or email info@onevillage.org.au.

Written by Maddy Dodd, President of One Village, Australia.

Helen Salaamu (graduate & member of the One Village alumni Scholarship) teaching at her primary school
Helen Salaamu (graduate & member of the One Village alumni Scholarship) teaching at her primary school
From left to right: Maddy Dodd (President of One Village) Helen Salaamu (Graduate of One Village Scholarship), Nikki Lovell (Founder of One Village)
From left to right: Maddy Dodd (President of One Village) Helen Salaamu (Graduate of One Village Scholarship), Nikki Lovell (Founder of One Village)

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