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Empowering girlchild! The Hunger Project launches ‘safe choices for deaf girls’ initiative

Sister Nelima Rose giving her remarks during the launch in Mbale on Wednesday, May 8. (PHOTO/THP-U)

MBALE – The Hunger Project- Uganda (THP-U) has launched ‘safe choices for the deaf girls’ project and is set to be implemented for 18 months, having started  in January this year.

According to The Hunger Project, the project will run up to June 2020 in Mbale epicenter.

This project is aimed at building child-marriage free communities and to support deaf girls in making safe choices in line with sexual and reproductive health.

The Regional Director for THP- East Africa Dr. Daisy Owomugasho, speaking at the event mentioned that THP-U has been working with grass root women in Uganda for the last 20 years to build their capacities in critical skills and output areas.

Dr. Daisy Owomugasho, the Regional Director for THP- East Africa speaking at the launch in Mbale on May 8, 2019. (PHOTO/File)

“The launch of Safe Choices project today(Wednesday, May 8) gives us another opportunity to even target and work with more vulnerable and disadvantaged women, the deaf girls to enable them rich their full potential in women space through increased access to SRHR services and information,” Dr. Daisy remarked.

Hon. Mafabi Michael the Minister for Health at Mbale District Local Government officiated the launch and applauded Mbale epicenter for all the programs implemented in the 4 sub-counties over the years.

The minister also pledged support from Mbale District Local Government Administration through departments such as Health, Education and Community Services for the new special project.

Joseph Mbalamwana, the executive director of Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) through a sign language interpreter thanked the government for instituting an enabling legal environment that supports the wellbeing of the deaf.

A section of the deaf girls at the launch of ‘safe choices for the deaf girls project’ in Mbale on May 8. (PHOTO/THP-U)

He also commended THP-U for working with the deaf community who he said are more than 1.5 million in the country, yet marginalized and excluded in the public service delivery space.

“For us to get best results out of this project we shall need to work together and I want to appeal to you to train in sign language so that we can communicate effectively,” Mr. Mbalamwana added.

Sister Nelima Rose, the Headteacher, Mbale School of the Deaf, appreciated THP-U for the decision and dedication to work hand in hand with her school and other schools in Mbale and believes this project will bolster their confidence and skills in the way they interact and relate with others.

“The deaf girls have benefited a lot from the empowerment workshops that THP-U has provided in areas of vocational skilling, saving and knitting which has equipped them with hands-on skills,” Sister Nelima said.

The headteacher added that this helps to enhance their (deaf girls) social-economic livelihoods even when they are in outside communities after school.

She stated that the deaf school is willing and ready to partner with the THP-U particularly Mbale Epicenter to support deaf girls so that they are in a position to make safe choices in line with sexual and reproductive health.

Sister Nelima confirmed that the school had always benefited from the organization so this new project was going to just strengthen the partnership.

THP-U has for long extended such schemes to different parts of the country like ‘Her Choice project’ of 2016 which has also worked with young girls to build child marriage-free Communities where each girl is free to decide, if, when and whom she marries.

A group photo of The Hunger Project officials, representatives from Mbale local government and the deaf girls at the launch of ‘Safe choices for deaf girls’ in Mbale on May 8. (PHOTO/File)

Through the same project, deaf girls are trained with skills to make reusable sanitary pads which, according to Gloria Nabutera, has enabled them to enjoy their time in school through improved menstrual hygiene.

Gloria Nabutere, 17 years old deaf girl from Mbale School of the Deaf representing her peers at the launch, speaking through a sign language interpreter, was grateful to these projects and asked leaders to put means of protecting the deaf girls from molesters.

“I appeal to all government leaders who are here today, please protect us from men who sexually abuse us just because we are deaf and women” Nabutere stated.

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