November 23, 2021
Doreen Murungi and Herman Makanga

Ten-year old Seli* hears his mother wail and his father yelling, and he knows what will happen next. It is a dreadful scene that plays out every night, and he feels it is time to speak up. But before he can take that step, his father shoves him across the room. Seli is sad and blames himself for not being able to rescue his mother.

Twelve-year old Lami* is husking beans when her father comes home drunk. He stumbles over a stool and takes his anger out on Lami. As the eldest child, Lami bears the brunt of her father’s drinking. She has endured painful physical abuse and severe verbal and emotional abuse. For safety, she hides in neighboring maize gardens and banana plantations.

These stories are just two of the many narratives of Ugandan children and youth who experience violence. In addition, they also face the threat of HIV/AIDS. Uganda has 1.4 million people living with HIV, and women and young women are disproportionately affected.1

The project we work with—Integrated Child and Youth Development (ICYD) Activity—tackles the challenges of gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS prevention and care through the Uganda Ministry of Health Community’s curriculum Journeys Plus. Developed for 9- to 14-year-olds, Journeys Plus uses a peer-based model to provide a referral pathway in the community. Children learn how to identify fellow children who seem to be experiencing GBV and to report what they see to a trusted adult or friend, who can then contact the authorities for help.

The curriculum builds on five social and emotional learning competencies:

1. Self-awareness
2. Social awareness
3. Self-management
4. Relationship building
5. Responsible decision-making

The goal of the ICYD Activity is to empower young boys and girls to protect themselves against GBV and HIV. Staff create safe spaces in the community for children to go through the curriculum, which is taught by social workers, para-social workers, village health teams, and peer leaders and youths.  

Jamaal Kasomi is one of the youth trained to deliver the Journeys Plus curriculum. He is also an advocate against GBV in his community and instrumental in identifying and reporting GBV cases.

“Witnessing violence can have damaging effects on girls and boys. They live in fear and shame, and even think they are responsible for the violence they may witness or go through. I want to help young girls responsibly fight against violence and guard against HIV. I want the young boys to understand their role in preventing all forms of GBV.” says Kasomi.

Gender-based violence affects girls from all walks of life. Ending GBV requires a sustained community effort engaging multiple stakeholders: local councils, community development offices, district officials, and police. This effort is vital. When adolescent girls and young women are fully empowered and have a supportive, enabling environment to surmount the challenges they face, they will have the potential to live a life free from violence and AIDS.

*These names have been changed.

Doreen Murungi is a communication specialist who loves to tell compelling stories to a range of audiences. She believes that by documenting these stories, she makes visible those communities that have not been seen or heard.
Herman Makanga is the SRGBV prevention manager. In this role, he is responsible for increasing awareness about GBV and engaging community leaders to work with civil society organizations to more effectively advocate for GBV prevention and response..

1 Avert. (n.d.). HIV and AIDS in Uganda. https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/uganda

HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health
Africa

16 Replies

Comments


Replying to:
Herman Makanga
It is our responsibility to participate in elimination of GBV in our communities

Replying to:
Aidah Matovu
Nice piece

Replying to:
Herman Makanga
Great!

Replying to:
Doreen
Thanks Aidah, let's orange the world together, feel free to share your perspective on eliminating GBV. I would like to hear more.

Replying to:
KIMMANJE TOM
Indeed we must work together to increase awareness about GBV. Performance am interested in helping you

Replying to:
Doreen
Yes indeed Tom, it takes collective responsibility. Your help is welcome

Replying to:
Careen Masika
Together we can support both men and women stand up for their rights and support them to become the best version of their tomorrow

Replying to:
Derick M Happy
Let’s speak up the cycle can stop

Replying to:
Makanga Herman
With USAID efforts and ICYD winning team, we must break the cycle

Replying to:
Tendo shamah
You and I can stop gbv

Replying to:
Makanga Herman
Indeed

Replying to:
Agaba Simon
I feel greatly humbled to be part of such a team that works tirelessly to empower girls and support vulnerable children in general. Indeed these disadvantaged groups face discrimination and violence in communities. Empowering and Supporting them is the true definition of Humanity!!

Replying to:
Nicholus Tumwesige
Being part of the great team is pleasurable. It's a mutual responsibility of us all to fight GBV especially among the young innocent Ugandans. Supporting them is not only giving them hope and good health but also fetches us a blessing from our Almighty God. Children Lives Matter!

Replying to:
Makanga Herman
Let's continue engaging community structures for support

Replying to:
Doreen
Yes indeed! These children are the future

Replying to:
Jamaal Amooti Kasomi
As I grew older I discovered that I have two hands. One for helping my self, the other for helping others. Gender Based Violence is one of the biggest Problems we are having in our country Uganda but it's so Honoured for the greatest efforts provided by USAID organisation through it's Commanders like Mr Herman Makanga towards the fight of GBV. Together we can Fight Gender Based Violence. @Jamaal.

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