An Unplanned Pregnancy in Extreme Poverty
Amoding Esther walked into WAGRAU’s office pregnant, desperate and alone. The “father” of her unborn child was never “in the picture”, and her own father threw her out of the family home for being so “careless”.
One thing we all know is – sex happens. And so do unplanned pregnancies, particularly in a country where 50% of women say they have experienced sexual violence*. In this remote village of Serere people are trying to survive on an average of $1.04 per day**; adding another person to the family can literally be a survival tipping point. In a marriage the husband’s family would have provided for Amoding and her baby. So she was thrown out not just for shame, but for the family’s survival and to discourage others from doing the same.
With few prospects on how to support herself or her baby, Amoding found out about the work (Founder and Executive Director) Deborah Akello and WAGRAU were doing in her area to empower women and girls. After meeting Amoding and learning of her story, WAGRAU invited her to be in the very first class of tailoring students. Thanks to mediation by WAGRAU, and the promise of a skill, Amoding’s grandmother stepped in and allowed her to come live at her home. With a roof over her head and her basic needs met, Amoding flourished in the tailoring program and quickly became a very skilled seamstress.
For women living in extreme poverty, access to education and opportunity often must go hand in hand with relief support. Deborah and her staff could see that Amoding was a hard worker, committed to learning tailoring, and determined to make a better life for herself and her child. When it came time for her to give birth, WAGRAU helped by paying 150,000 UGX ($40) for hospital bills. This kind of extra support is an integral part of the mission and success of WAGRAU.
When Amoding completed the tailoring course at WAGRAU, her grandmother sold two of her goats towards buying a sewing machine for her, along with 5 pieces of kitenge (Ugandan fabric), zippers and thread. After Amoding and her grandmother had shown such commitment, WAGRAU topped off an extra 100,000 UGX ($27) to help get her to her goal. Heartbreakingly, her grandmother passed just before Amoding’s formal graduation from the tailoring program, which was delayed because of the pandemic lockdown.
SInce graduation, Amoding has been very clever about ways to earn money through her new tailoring skills. Not only making custom clothes to order, in the typical Ugandan way, but also pre-making girl’s dresses that can be bought on the spot. Amoding rents a small front porch from a local store owner, but through her hard work, and disciplined savings, she has managed to make payments for a small plot of land of her own! Amoding was especially motivated to become a property owner in order to give this land to her son one day. Because he is “illegitimate” he wouldn’t have any rights to “family land”. Through her tailoring work, she has already paid the owner of the land 3,400,000 UGX ($910) out of the total price of 4,000,000 UGX ($1,068), with just 600,000 UGX ($106) to go. Since she is so close to paying it off, the seller of the land is allowing her to grow a small plot of maize on it — which she cares for, then sells to help pay for the land itself!
WAGRAU’s skills training program combined with thoughtfully scaffolded support, has launched Amoding into a successful life. But not only is this a financial investment. At WAGRAU financial support always goes hand in hand with caring relationships, defined by dignity and accountability. By empowering women like Amoding we can break through the cycle of generational poverty.
WAGRAU’s small financial investment in Amoding included the training program, hospital fees, and half the cost of her sewing machine. A total of $150.
With the help of supporters like yourself, WAGRAU can continue to make impactful changes in the lives of women and girls in Serere, Uganda.
*RAINN.org article Sexual Violence in Six African Nations, Uganda
**”Estimating District GDP in Uganda”, 2017 University of Denver