Empowering Health Workers

Arinda Isaac’s story | Empowering Health Workers to Provide Youth Friendly SRHR Services.

Increasing the utilization of sexual and reproductive services is greatly dependent on the positive attitude of the health workers towards its provision to young people of ages 15-24. It is for this reason that Shared Action Africa is amplifying the contribution made by Isaac Arinda, a health worker and advocate for increased utilization and access of sexual and reproductive care of adolescents and young people at Nshungyezi HCIII in Oruchinga refugee settlement. Prior to receiving specialized training, Isaac had a very poor attitude towards adolescents and young people that sought sexual and reproductive care at the health facility where he worked. Like other members of his community, he though that providing contraceptives to young people was tantamount to promoting promiscuity among these age group. However, after the training he provided, it was he has been one of the biggest advocates for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights among his peers.

“As health workers, we often are not interested in helping young people access sexual and reproductive health care due to our own personal biases, beliefs, and prejudices. Prior to my training on adolescent sexual and reproductive health care and rights, I was among those health workers would decline to serve young people because I believed I would be perpetuating moral decadency in our community. However, after learning that access and use of SRHR services is a human right, but also that it works as a preventive measure against several societal evils such as unplanned and teenage pregnancies, I was won over.

It is for this reason, that when the first youth friendly space was established at Nshungyezi health facility, I applied to be the person in charge of managing this space. I am therefore happy to be working in partnership with Shared Action Africa to provide counselling to the youth and I feel honored to be the person privileged to pilot such as initiative that will have a lasting impact among our communities. This is because when young people are offered an opportunity to access services and information concerning their reproductive health, we would be mitigating against early childhood pregnancies and are rampant in the settlement.

I am confident this will happen gradually because I am part of the team that is promoting voluntary family planning among young people, and also encourage them to not only conduct regular testing for HIV, but also advise them to always use protection whenever they uninformed about their partner’s HIV status. However, for those that find themselves in a situation where they have had unprotected sex, we provide them with not only emergency contraceptive but also encourage them to seek Prep treatment to prevent HIV infection.

However, while we have established a youth friendly corner at Nshungezi HCIII, we need further support to help equip it so that young people are encouraged to come and come interact with others as they are counselled on their sexual and reproductive health care and rights as well as receive services that meet their needs. There has been an integration of youth friendly services in outreaches as this gives the youth a chance to confidently show up and participate in health education talks. We have also allocated Saturdays as a special day for them to attend to the youth. “

Isaac Alinda, offering counselling on sexual and productive care to a young lady.

Mukundwa Ejidiya

I regret why I Married Early

Mukundwa Ejidiya | I regret why I Married Early

Mukundwa Ejidiya, 18, is a Rwandese refugee residing in Michinga 1, Oruchinga settlement, in South Western Uganda. She dropped out of school at the age of 16 because she couldn’t wait to marry her boyfriend and also start a family. Although she lives a life of regret, she feels that her confinement in the projects of Shared Action Africa (SAA) console her from overthinking and stress.

“Before I chose to get married to my boyfriend at the age of 16, I was a Primary Six student in one of the community schools in Oruchinga refugee settlement. All was going smoothly until tension from school fees thickened its nerve. I was left in the dilemma of either pressing on with studies or moving in with my boyfriend to start a family. When I was won by the latter option, I conceived in a short while and gave birth to my first child.

Months later, I started experiencing unbearable marital issues that left me with a life of regret. Regardless, I am thankful for the project that SAA extended to the youth in our settlement. I’m now more informed and aware that health facilities exist for people of all ages. Each time I need services from the health facility, I ask for a referral form from one of the peer educators. I am now on family planning and this has helped me to ensure spacing of my children. I have a reason to take care of my child until he is five years old for me to think about having another child again.

Earning Income from Garment Making

Earning Income from Garment Making | Vocational Training

Shared Action Africa equipped 50 refugee women and girls in Nakivale Refugee Settlement with business skills and financial literacy, customer care, marketing, records keeping as well as tailoring skills.

38-year-old Bijou Shala a participant was able to set up a tailoring business after the training from which she an average daily income of UGX 26,000.

“On completing this course, I purchased a sewing machine using my savings of UGX 600,000. I set up a workshop at my home to reduce the walking distance as well as rent fees. I am able to sew women’s clothes and shorts for males using African fabrics from DRC and Tanzania which I get cheaply. I also do one off jobs such as repairing torn clothes.

I also get to teach people especially the young girls how to sew. I believe it is important for young refugee girls to have a skill that they can use to attain income anywhere they go. I have trained five girls and 3 older women in making dresses and making cloth repairs.

I feel so proud being able to take care of my family of five. Though our needs are still many, I am able to meet the critical or basic needs. Moreover, having a certificate from the training makes me happy and I feel a sense of accomplishment. Before the training, I did petty business of selling small items like sweets which earned very little in that in day I could get only UGX 3,000 on average.

My business needs more capital to grow as I want to get more fabrics and expand my space to reach more clients as well as provide trainings to more people at a small cost. I also want to use social media to market my products.

I am respected in my community by both men and women because they see the positive change I am contributing to.

Thank you, Shared Action Africa, for changing my life.”

Communal Gardening

Communal Gardening | Women’s Economic Empowerment and Food Security

We are committed to promoting sustainable access to enough food, proper nutrition and incomes for refugee women. Through forming collectives advocating for increased allocation to land as a resource of production, refugee women are able to influence strategies and policies to promote their livelihood. From allocation of land plots from 40 by 80 feet to at least three quarters to an acre for agricultural production, refugee women are achieving such results through engaging duty bearers. Through advocacy actions such as developing strategies, tactics in engaging duty bearers, submitting petitions and follow up, refugee women are evolving into leaders that are influencing their communities in Nakivale refugee settlement.

“With the increased allocation to land, I am able to practice better methods of farming and resultantly improve my production for food security and nutrition as well as income generation,” 41-year-old Julie (DRC) caretaker of 7 family members.”