In 2003, Acen Franka dropped out of Senior 1 at the age of 19 when she conceived a child, shortly after which she got married. Her husband promised he would take her back to school after giving her a break to raise the young child. The years past and Franka and her husband had another two children. Her husband then refused to take her back to school.
The tipping point came when her nearly 50 year old husband brought another wife into the home, a 17-year-old, was also pregnant. The two wives and their husband all lived in the same room and even slept in the same bed. This wife, however, the husband took back to school after giving birth.
Franka never gave up on her dreams and left her husband in 2012 to continue studying. Franka is now in Senior 3 and is not giving up hope. “If you’re not educated you can’t do anything. You can’t afford to food to eat or pay the school fees of your children” said Franka. Since she left the village, her husband has disallowed her to see the children, yet she remains hopeful about visiting them this Christmas. On her husband she noted, “short man can delay to grow old.”
Franka works with the GDPU as a caretaker of children whose parents train at the vocational program.
In 1995, Moreen dropped out of Primary 7 due to financial problems. She began working in a clinic as a cleaner. In 1997, at around 20 she got married and had three children with her husband.
Life changed drastically in 2004 when her husband, a driver for World Vision, was murdered by the LRA during fieldwork. World Vision gave her compensation, however her brother-in-laws came and took everything: the monetary compensation, two motorbikes, the land, her home, and all belongings in the home. They left Moreen with nothing, an unfortunately common instance with widows in Uganda. “They say women have no power over anything” said Moreen. They rationalized that they were taking the belongings for another niece, whom her husband was helping to support.
Years later Moreen found out World Vision had offered to pay school fees for her children, yet her brother-in-law had enrolled his kids under the names of Moreen’s children. For three years her brother-in-law’s children were going to school without paying fees. When she found out she went to World Vision, but instead of correcting the mistake the stopped paying school fees altogether.
In 2011, Moreen decided to go back to school enrolling in Senior 1. “I want to become a mid-wife, but my level of education did not match [the requirements]” said Moreen. Today Moreen, the Office Assistant at GDPU, takes night courses and is currently in Senior 3, which happens to be the same level as one of her sons. When I asked her son what he thought of his mom in the same level as him, he said he was very proud. Moreen says she “just does what pushes my life to tomorrow.”
Betty finished Senior 6 at age 20 and was immediately off to England where her new husband lived. While living in England for five years she had her son. She left England as her marriage began to crumble and the feeling of isolation grew. “The social life was bad. You stay without knowing your neighbors,” Betty said.
Back in Uganda she attempted several times to finish an Associate’s Degree. The first time she dropped out due to money issues, her husband refused to give any payment as he falsely believed she had remarried. The second time dropping out because she was offered a job as a secretary for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during peace talks. Finally, on her third attempt she finished her two year degree.
Today, Betty teaches literacy and numeration at the GDPU for students at the vocational training. On the weekends she is completing her Bachelor’s in Development Studies. Using her son as inspiration, Betty is working hard to provide a better life.
Posted By Kathryn Dutile (Uganda)
Posted Dec 1st, 2014