The Real Uganda’s Girls Get Skills practical skills training program launched in September 2021 with much enthusiasm from the mothers and daughters of Lugacraft Kiteza Rural Women’s Group, in Buikwe District, Uganda.
It ran successfully for a period of 5 months, directly impacting 130 young women and girls. It ended when Uganda’s schools re-opened after almost 2 years of closure, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Real Uganda offers 2 – 12 week locally-led communty-based volunteer programs.
Ugandan girls, like their counterparts all over the world, want to be protected, and keep their brains active and days fun and interesting.
In the absense of formal classroom education, young women and girls in rural Uganda were moving into home making roles too early.
Research shows access to handicraft skills, social skills, and sexual reproductive health information all go a long way toward securing bright futures for Uganda’s young women (Nabugoomu, 2019, Borgen Project, 2018).
Girls Get Skills aimed to support exactly that.
During the course of the program, 47 young women learned hair care and styling techniques and 38 young women took part in a bakery skills program. These young women, aged 13 to 18, gained portable money making skills that will help them build their lives, no matter where their futures take them.
These girls and up to 45 more also attended 5 social skills workshops and 4 sex ed classes as well.
GoAbroad Foundation happily processed tax deductible donations via PayPal, on our behalf. Thanks to quite a number of small (and not so small!) donations from former volunteers and well-wishers, our open air skills training programs were a total success. All told, we raised just over $2,000 and spent about $1,100.
The unspent balance went toward beds, mattresses, and mosquito nets for the girl’s dormitory at Grace Primary School in Nakifuma.
Girls Get Skills combined practical skills with social skills and sexual reproductive education to ensure participants accessed a full toolbox to build productive and meaningful lives.
In the girls’ own words, the main takeaways from our social skills and sexual education workshops included:
•Collaborate and surround yourself with friends who make positive decisions and take positive actions
•Don’t pass up any opportunity, have a plan, set personal goals
•Don’t make excuses, don’t listen to that negative inner voice, practice persistence
•Personal and menstrual hygiene are important, shower daily
•Love what you do and don’t undervalue any job
•You can even get pregnant if you have sex during menstruation
•Trust yourself and be aware that men and boys can lie to lure you into casual sex
•Be creative, learn new things
•Know why you’re doing things, don’t get distracted with silly things
•Look boys in the eye and tell them firmly “no” and then tell them why
•Don’t listen to discouraging words
•When cash for personal items is needed, ask the women in your family. Should they say no, ask another. Keep asking.
•Be principled, decisive, determined, and brilliant!
Practical hair care and styling skills included: customer care, washing and conditioning, the use of straightening and relaxing chemicals, using rollers, and braiding cornrows and twist style. These are popular in the local market.
Practical bakery skills covered: the importance of fresh and properly measured ingredients for donuts, mandazi, bread, and cakes. Mixing hard and soft icing for cake decorating added another level of professionalism to this course.
The ultimate Girls Get Skills program goals were to avoid early marriage and teen pregnancy, and increase confidence and effective decision-making in young women and girls in Uganda.
While this program was short lived, The Real Uganda is proud to have impacted Kiteza in a unique way. We’re also pleased to report that almost all the young women we worked with have been able to re-join formal classroom education!
We wish them well as they grow into spirited, confident, and healthy women ready to take on the world.
Ensure The Real Uganda is able to support its community based partners
The Borgen Project, 2018 https://borgenproject.org/girls-education-in-uganda/
Josephine Nabugoomu, 2019. Education Journal https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336517654_School_Dropout_in_Rural_Uganda_Stakeholder_Perceptions_on_Contributing_Factors_and_Solutions