#FreshfromtheField: Racheal catalyzes change in Uganda
Racheal, a Form 6 student in Uganda and a mentee affiliated with Concern for the Girl Child says that she’s been inspired by Aunty Nala’s texts.
Aunty Nala is part of the Sauti Ya Dada ("The Girls' Voice") Program developed by Creative Action Institute as a response to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. Aunty Nala sends 150 girls in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan text messages every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The text messages share a mix of SRHR information and affirmations to support their emotional well-being. The girls’ Mentors support them through phone calls and additional text messages to engage them in the content and answer any questions they may have.
The research done while developing the Girl Declaration shows that investing in adolescent girls is the key to ending poverty. When a girl has one additional year of secondary schooling, it boosts her future earning potential by 15-25% which then boosts her country’s national income. This in particular has motivated Racheal to stay in school because it is key in ensuring her future income!
Racheal says Aunty Nala’s texts have encouraged her to fight against harmful and demeaning cultural beliefs that portray girls and women as less than because they are female. When Rachel was introduced to Greta Thunberg by Aunty Nala, she was impressed by her courage to strike for the environment and also moved to action. She started collecting plastic bottles around her community and turning them into flower pots that she uses to plant flowers in. To reduce the family’s expenses, Racheal also started planting vegetables in the plastic bottles she collected. This has also proved to be a healthier option for her and her family members. Before this, Rachel used to burn the plastic bottles she no longer had use for.
Aunty Nala’s texts have also boosted her self awareness and confidence levels. Recently, during a family meeting, she was able to voice her opinion on a matter being discussed and it was appreciated by her father. Racheal has also learnt to manage the anxiety she felt when the pandemic broke out through the self care tips sent to her by Aunty Nala.
Racheal is majoring in Geography, Entrepreneurship and Computer Studies in her High School. To ensure she goes back to school when the pandemic is over, she has kept abreast with her studies through reading her books, newspapers and tuning into television channels that air segments on the subjects she is taking in school.