Better Life for Girls, Better Future for Uganda

23 May 2018
Eunice Nyandoi (left), a leader of the Kulambiro ELA Club displaying a key message: “No adolescent should get pregnant by accident” during a discussion on how to prevent teenage pregnancy.

Eunice Nyandoi, a 23-year-old living in Kampala is the leader of the Kulambiro Empowerment of Livelihood and Adolescents (ELA) Club in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb. As the oldest of four siblings raised by a single mother, Eunice faced financial issues and was forced to leave high school and spend her time at home with nothing to do. 

However, she learned about the ELA Club from a friend, which soon transformed her life for the better. The ELA Club is a project under the Better Life for Girls (BL4G) Programme, an initiative aims to prevent teenage pregnancy and underage marriage. Eunice joined the club in June of 2016 and has gained many skills which she has passed on to those around her.

“This club has changed my life in many ways,” Eunice said. “I am very empowered.”

Before joining the ELA Club, Eunice lacked financial and general life skills, but has since learned them through her club mentors. She now has a better understanding of topics such as her sexual and reproductive health and how to prevent unplanned pregnancies.  Inspired by her experience in the ELA Club, Eunice decided to become a leader of the club. She now mentors 25 girls and works to recruit even more in order to share the knowledge she acquired.

“I am teaching my mother, brothers, and neighbors how to use liquid soap to clean themselves,” she said. “I want ELA clubs to spread to other districts and eventually cover all over Uganda."

The ELA Club is a project which aims to provide safe spaces for girls like Eunice, ages 10 to 19, in and out of school. Specifically, the ELA Club discusses topics such as financial literacy, leadership, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and family planning. The Club also has weekly forums to discuss the well-being of girls and the prevention of underage marriage and teenage pregnancy, inviting community leaders, parents, religious leaders, and security officers to participate.

Like Eunice, Kise faced personal and educational difficulties before joining the ELA Club, as she was raised by a single mom, along with 25 siblings, and was unable to go to college due to financial difficulties.

Kise used to be alone and too shy to speak to others, but after joining the club in October 2016, Kise found a network of support and also learned financial skills in order to save money for herself and her family. By making notebooks to earn income, Kise supports her siblings so that they can stay in school, and is also currently saving money in order to go to college. 

Socially and financially empowered by her experiences with the BL4G programme, Kise became a mentor for other girls in the ELA Club. She encourages her peers to stay in school or go back if they dropped out, and teaches them how to provide for themselves financially.

Her future goal is to help implement the BL4G programme in schools across Uganda, as she said, “My dream is to teach these life skill lessons in schools to create larger impacts on girls' lives.”

By providing a safe, educational space for girls, the BL4G programme allows girls to gain social, financial, and reproductive empowerment. In 2017, 1,006 ELA Clubs were functional across 19 districts with approximately 280,000 adolescent girls who have accessed sexual and reproductive health services. With mentors like Eunice and Kise, a growing generation of girls are enabled to gain control of their lives and their futures.

And as the room fills with lively dancing and cheerful smiles, the girls in the club get to know each other and have become close friends. It is evident that they have found a safe, supportive space through the BL4G programme.

- Written by Mina Nozawa.