Christine Nayar, 19, from Nimsui village, Amudat district is one of the lucky ones who has had the privilege of completing ‘O’ Level or Senior 4 at Jereza High School in Soroti, thanks to the Rights Advocacy program implemented by NAWOU and supported by the Embassy of Ireland.
“I had to run away from home when I learned that my family had planned for me to undergo FGM,” recalls Christine. “I and two friends spent days in the bushes until we got to the school that sheltered us for several years. The school, and an organization supported me until I completed S.4. Unfortunately, I do not have sponsorship for further education and the pandemic narrowed down my chance even further.”
Having joined the school system late, Christine felt embarrassed to sit with the young girls but after getting counselling, she agreed and went to P.1. From there on, her love for school grew and she begun to realize that there was a big exciting world beyond Karamoja!
“I have been fed, clothed, educated and supported to reach the level of education no other girl in my sub-county has attained, Senior four. I have been exposed to girls from other parts of Uganda with affectionate parents who sacrifice to maintain their daughters in school, and realized that Karamoja is very different. That is why I want to grow up to be the voice for girls from Karamoja.”
As the first born, she has advocated for her three sisters to remain in school and not be forced to undergo FGM or early marriage. Her father has never contributed towards their education but her mother struggled to raise money for their school needs by selling firewood, which had been her only source of income for many years. However, she later became very ill due to complications related to FGM scarring and has never fully recovered from her birth cesareans. She has since started a snack business and that is her current income generator.
“I am grateful that I made it through school since I ran away from home as a little girl who had never attended school. All I wanted was to avoid FGM and early forced marriage, hopefully I will be able to further my studies soon,” Christine concluded.