By Esther Nakkazi
Fifteen year old, Aisha Nansubuga lives with her father and step mother in a one day roomed house in the slums of Kasubi Zone 3, Rubaga Division.
On Wednesday, 3rd May, the PREFA team visited Nansubuga. She was at home and came to meet with us clad in a yellow tight fitting dress with brown sandals.
“I work in a hotel. I sell food but today Madam did not come to work,” she says. Nansubuga also plaits hair when she gets a customer. She learnt the hair dressing skills from Masooli vocational training.
Her earnings are up Ushs 60,000 ($15) a week if she plaits three people and that is the most she has earned in that duration for the skill she acquired from the training.
Nansubuga is one of the girls who was identified through the ‘Protecting Families against HIV’ (PREFA) system under Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) project.
Dr. Bernadette Ssebadduka the PREFA executive director, says the project aims to engage urban authorities and local governments to prevent and respond to commercial sexual exploitation of children in greater Kampala and Wakiso districts.
The project has two dimensions; advocacy and identification, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of CSEC. It is funded by Terres Des Homes and Girls’ Advocacy Alliance.The project is implemented in partnership with Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL), with PREFA as the lead partner.
UYDeL is an NGO that aims to enhance socioeconomic transformation of disadvantaged young people through skills development for self-reliance. They work with youths aged 10 – 24 years who are vulnerable to exploitation and at risk to HIV/AIDS infection. UYDeL also runs the vocational skills and rehabilitation centre at Masooli in Nangabo Division.
The recently graduated Nansubuga, spent three Masooli and she says she has now reformed from her ‘bad’ manners.
“We used to go to club (dancing) and do bad manners. We would leave home at 4.00pm and return early in the morning,” she says looking at the ground.
According to Godfrey Kidela, the chairman of this Kasubi Zone 3, Nansubuga belonged to a group called B13. It consisted of about 20 young people and they used to steal, abuse substances and engage in hooligan behaviour.
In that group, Nansubuga was among the 3 girls and she was the youngest and most stubborn. She was also a go-go dancer in one of the night clubs.
“I now stopped all that and go to church to pray,” says Nansubuga lifting her eyes up. She says her turning point was in Masoli rehabilitation centre where she met girls who were worse off.
The training not only equipped her with hair dressing skills but the counselling sessions were also an eye opener that there is more to life than what she was doing and especially when you are just 15 years.
Grace Nakiwu, programme officer CSEC project at PREFA believes that equipping these children with skills will certainly make it easier for them to survive and counselling helps them abandon their past ways.
The interventions may not necessarily be a magic bullet but personal responsibilities by the young people matters a lot.
Nansubuga hopes to return to work as soon as her employee at the food kiosk opens up. She has a boyfriend she ‘hates’ and has refused to do bad manners with him although he keeps on nagging her.
Her dream is to become a professional dancer but most urgently she would like to meet with her mother who abandoned her and a little brother when she was only eight years. Her father refuses them contact that she will run away but for now her wish is to be united and be loved by her mother.