¨I was chased away from home by my father after I got pregnant.¨ 18-year-old Agnes recalls. ¨My father was very furious with me because he thought I wasted the money he paid for my school fees.¨ Agnes gave birth when she was 14 years old. The father of her child was a fellow teenager who used to mistreat her by physically abusing her and denying her basic needs and clothing for their child. However, he died when their child was one year old.
Agnes began working on people´s farms to get money to move to Kampala in search for a better life, which she did. Unfortunately, when she got to Uganda´s capital, she had no one to depend on or reach out to. She narrates, ¨I resorted to staying in a taxi park with my child. One week later, I got a job at a butchery and my employer offered me accommodation.¨ Soon Agnes made friends who convinced her to co-rent a house with them. These friends soon introduced Agnes to sex work when she was 16 years old. ¨They convinced me that it was just another way of getting income and I did this for about two years.¨ During this period, Agnes was also introduced to drugs, which she admits to using briefly.
¨I was identified in the community by a social worker from UYDEL. If it wasn’t for them, I would have committed suicide because there was a time when I needed to talk to someone but I didn’t have anyone. UYDEL gave me a new family and while there I have made so many friends. I was also supported with sanitary towels, buckets, bed sheets, blankets, towels and these helped to improve my welfare and that of my child. Through the life skills training received from UYDEL, I was able to abandon what I was doing and reduce substance abuse.¨ She says. Agnes adds that she got a sense of belonging after joining Terre des Hommes Netherlands´ partner, UYDEL, where she got an opportunity to dream again.
¨I was enrolled in a bakery course and after I successfully completing this, I was supported with start-up tool kits to help me start my own business. I now sell french fries, and I am able to save EUR 1.69 every day. The project staff continue to provide me with counselling services and have given me hope for a brighter tomorrow.¨ She concludes cheerfully.