By Curthbert Kigozi
Over 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, 25 per cent are teenage pregnancies as according to the population Secretariat. Peer pressure, lack of sex education, child marriages and sexual abuse are the major indictors to teenage pregnancies in Uganda.
However Annabelle Nakibiri Ssebakijje under her organization The Remnant Generation is fighting to see a society free from child marriage and teenage pregnancy.
Brief background about Annabelle
Annabelle is a survivor of child marriage who at the age of 13 was forced to get married to a man much older than her (35) since choice had to be made between a girl child (who was married off at a young age) and a boy child (who had the privileges’ to go to school). She run away from home and started working as a house maid and at times dig in people’s gardens. Recounting on her past, she says, every where she went, men that were supposed to protect her instead saw an opportunity to sexually abuse and manipulate her even when she would seek shelter from her relatives home.
Annabelle is an accountant by professional who quit her job in 2015 to fully concentrate on giving a shoulder to teenage mothers who are victims of sexual abuse and crisis pregnancy. The 32 yr old was born in a polygamous family (African setting) and is child number thirteen and first born to her mother.
In 2011, basing on her life experience and her other female friends who shared similar stories which at times where worse than hers together with the atrocity of seeing her young sister struggling as a teenage mother, inspired her to start up the Remnant Generation organization which started as a community based organization.
The age bracket of these girls is 13-20 who are either referred by the police, local council one office of Busega and others identified through community outreaches to come live at the Remnant generation home.
A few girls at the home are already mothers at a teenage age, others pregnant while the rest are fighting to heal the wounds of sexual abuse and child marriage.
On their arrival at the home, they are taken through a process of building trust which Anna calls the love approach method since most of them are rejected by their families,person responsible for pregnancy disowning it where they end up living on the age due to the large pockets of poverty leading them to think of horrific ideas like abortion.
Under the Remnant Generation, is a school called school of purpose that equips the girls with hands on vocational skills, literacy lessons and urban farming a way of helping the girls reach their full potential.
Statistics indicate that teenage pregnancy and child bearing is common in rural areas, occurring at an average of three in every 10 teenage girls, compared to two in every 10 teenage girls in urban settings.
Annabelle has received a large number of girls from different parts of the country and in all her encounters with the girls, their stories zero down to sexual misconduct, ignorance and domestic violence in the society being the reasons of teenage pregnancy in the country.
The 25% raise in teenage pregnancy is attributed to low education attainment among girls of 15-19 years. The early pregnancies come with complications like premature and still births, prolonged labour, fistula among other because their bodies [teenagers] are not prepared to have children yet.