When Ruth Fund Uganda got the first draft design for a brochure, it had a photograph of a young lady dressed in a business suit. We agreed that such a woman would already have information and probably opportunities to enable her lead a dignified life. Most probably she knew her rights and would claim and defend them. She could make decisions that affected her life, and those in her community. We agreed that she had opportunities from different corners, she would choose to take or refuse and Ruth Fund Uganda would seek out support of such ladies to reach out to rural women and youth.
When we opened the office in the rural area mukyalo the elite retired middle aged women welcomed us with caution that there is nothing they have not been taught –they felt they knew enough.
‘Have you opened the office to provide shelter for battered women? Even those you may not get, people now days have ways of dealing with violence.’ One kind lady volunteered information.
We explained that we need to reach out to the rural women and youth within the community. We even pointed out examples among those walking along the paths of Nabazizza with babies on their backs, others walking along beside them. We explained we wanted to reach out to women who are mothers of the young girls and boys who walked about in tattered clothes, bare footed while other children their age were at school. We labored to explain that we wanted the women who were teenagers but at the same time mothers. [The national teenage pregnancy rate is 24.8% among girls aged 15-19 years; 45% of the uneducated girls become pregnant compared to 16% of girls with secondary education. .. 58% of teenage girls aged 19-years, 37% of girls aged 18-years, 21% of girls aged 17-years, 9% of girls aged 16-years, and 2% of girls aged 15-years had already begun child bearing. (UDHS, 2011)]. Women who by law are youth aged 18 to 35 but are already married or cohabiting abafumba-or were once married and are already divorced but have children they rarely feed. Children who suffer hunger and contribute to the statistics of child mortality in the village for no other reason apart from the fact that the mothers have not identified opportunity to improve their condition as individual women and conditions for their offspring who are fast walking in the footsteps of the helpless, hopeless mothers.
Such kind of women are many but how do you reach/get them?
The answer from the rural elite was-Abo twabakowa –twabavako- bamenya….. –literary translated we got tired of those, so, we ignore them, otherwise, they just frustrate you because their numbers increase daily and a lot of effort is needed to change their conditions of poverty, many children, ill health, illiteracy and many other conditions.
It is a situation that reminds one of scientific terms of kinetic energy and gravity forces.
Imagine the women Ruth Fund Uganda wants to work with comfortable in their situations, resigned that that is life for them and there is no remedy. They are not bothered , have no energy to take action to change for better because they do not believe better /dignified life is for them. They rarely move from their places of residence because they do not have homes, to look for opportunities in a society that has given up on them. There is no kinetic energy to make them vibrant!
Where there is movement, it is vertical or /and horizontal . It is where the forces of gravity apply.
Imagine, the people Ruth Fund Uganda intends to work with are only mobile in the community. They leave their rooms to go to market to get food and back to carry out the routine work of feeding and serving the bread earner, if there is one. They hardly ever attend meetings. Some attend worship places where they are taught submissiveness, caring for ones neighbor and other positive values that prepare one for heaven because there is little hope for good life in the earthly world.
No wonder they are not visible and because they lack kinetic energy-gravity keeps them down and in their own space. There is horizontal movement which lacks dynamism to pull one up from one condition to another. Ruth Fund Uganda is in place to provide the vertical catalyst for movement; is working on pulling/ pushing/walking with them uphill-call it whatever suits you-this is a costly process. Ruth Fund Uganda needs skilled human and financial resources and TIME to keep them up. Getting rural women and youth up , moving, and vibrant demands that they change attitude to life, practically change the way they lead lives, communicate more and with changed mindset, demand for their rights.
What is sad is that even among the elite rural, there are different factors that pull them down to the horizontal based group. The environmental, socio-political and economic factors tend to pull them down to be part of the invisible women and youth. No wonder, the bottom group, the base of the pyramid is wide. The poor marginalized, are increasing. They do not seem to be part of government plans and programs.
Ruth Fund Uganda chose to go the un-trodden path so that there is a trail to find the rural women and youth. Would you do the same? Would you advise and support Ruth Fund Uganda to take this adventure/initiative innovatively? Please send us a comment on e-mail if you want, that is< email@example.com>.
Ruth Fund Uganda will continue to update you on progress because we do not intend to give up!