My name is Miriam Ademun, aged 32, residing in Kampala, Uganda. I am the co-founder of The Goal Club Initiative (TGCI). TGCI is an organization dedicated to encouraging girls to stay in school through mentorship programmes and school outreach. We also focus on improving the quality of life of marginalized teenage mothers through our economic empowerment programmes, ensuring their participation in issues affecting them.
We mainly focus on girls because they face many inequalities in Uganda, even in places meant for positive development like schools. Girls are frequently victims of school drop outs, early marriages and sexual harassment, and they don’t receive proper assistance to deal with these traumatizing experiences.
Many are left with no choice but to leave school and become a teenage mother. Most pregnant girls are expelled from school and don’t return to complete their education. They struggle to survive due to the many socio-economic hardships that they face.
This project, called “The Goal Girls,” will focus on pineapple, onion and carrot farming on 4 acres of land in Zirobe, near Kampala. We will set up a training programme to strengthen agricultural skills as a way of enhancing livelihoods for 100 school dropouts, some of whom are teenage mothers.
These vulnerable girls (aged 20 -25 years) will be empowered with modern methods of agriculture such as vegetable (carrots, onions) and fruit (pineapple) growing. We will hire a tractor to plough the land, buy the pineapple suckers and vegetable seeds for planting and set up a simple irrigation scheme for continuous watering. We will also purchase simple garden tools (hoes, spades, wheelbarrows, gloves, manure, and rakes).
Our organization is passionate about empowering girl children. With this project, besides being able to sell their harvests to fetch more income, their nutrition will be boosted for good health. We will engage them in all phases of the project as workers.
“The Goal Girls” will be a training project specifically for girl children, empowering them through agricultural entrepreneurship. We will use this project to change the situation of vulnerable girls using our life skills and empowerment sessions, coaching, being part of a team, learning skills, and being given substantial time away from “negative recreation” (drugs, violence or sexual activities).
The pineapple, carrot and onion crops have become one of the main income-generating enterprises for many farmers in Uganda, and especially in Kampala. These crops are highly adaptable and can be produced both locally and organically, and there is an existing access to local, regional and international markets such as Southern Sudan (Juba) and East Africa, especially Kenya.
Our organization will get the crops to the markets as opposed to using middlemen (who often cheat), and the profits will be used for expansion of the project. We hope to empower girls in our community. We will arm them with information about commercial farming and best agricultural practices.
At a later stage, we w encourage “The Goal Girls” to set up their own gardens and we will provide farming items such as mushroom seeds, seedlings/planting materials and tools depending on the expressed need of the girls. We will provide them with seedlings that will also help conserve the environment and reduce poverty through increased income, food and fruit production.
We have already established a kitchen garden (carrots, maize, onions, beetroot, green pepper, tomatoes and cabbage) as a simple demonstration farm and we have used this as a small-scale training ground for the girls. We are in the process of harvesting vegetables, some of which have already gone to home consumption.
We have conducted mentoring sessions in 5 primary schools with a total number of 432 (301 boys and 131 girls) students. Nine hundred and twenty-five students have been mentored in secondary schools, and of these, 267 were girls and 658 were boys. In the vocational schools we visited, a total number of 210 students were mentored (76 girls and 134 boys). In total we have mentored 1,567 students (note that the number of girls is lower than the number of boys).
Our school mentorship approach defines our way of working and aims to foster positive development for girl children through provision of relevant support. We aim to help them believe in their abilities and overcome difficult life challenges, develop confidence, self-esteem and the skills they need to be successful in school and in life.
We have also noted with concern that there is a high rate of girls dropping out of school due to cultural and socio-economic factors, so we started promoting non-formal education for girls out of school who also happen to be teenage mothers. With support to implement this project, we hope to scale-up this project with special attention to supporting re-entry, rebuilding and retraining of school dropouts as we already have an established and organized group for this purpose.
We will measure success through improved food security at the household level for the girls we engaged. We aim to enable skilled youth and households able to sustainably produce food and meet nutritional needs. Girls will be engaged in other successful income-generating activities such as agri- businesses and saving schemes.
By engaging vulnerable girls in this project, we hope to build their confidence and equip them with the knowledge to make informed choices. We want them to be able to identify their rights, be aware of their opportunities, understand strong leadership and be encouraged to be active participants in society to reduce idleness and teenage pregnancies.
With the USD $5000 grant, we will identify and select the vulnerable girls to benefit from this project and form Self Help Groups of 20 girls per group. We will hire a tractor for ploughing and clearing the four-acre farm land and set up a simple irrigation scheme using used plastic bottles. We will purchase farm tools, seedlings and suckers for planting. We will use some of the money for monitoring, weeding, harvesting and getting the products to the market.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Miriam Ademun (Kampala, Uganda) – goalclubinitiative[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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