Home News Isingiro: Religious leaders taking lead in ending Child Marriages

Isingiro: Religious leaders taking lead in ending Child Marriages

by Countryside Reports

Countryside Reports

ISINGIRO

Often being perceived as most respected figures in communities, religious leaders are good team players, they are creative in their actions, and resolute in decision making. They play an important role in shaping attitude and opinion of many people.

Raising Teenagers Uganda (RTU), a non-governmental organization in Uganda is using religious leaders as champions to end child marriages in Isingiro district, where a project “Accelerating the Progress to End marriages in Uganda” is being implemented.

Champions were identified in June 2020 from the four sub counties of Rugaaga, Kabingo, Isingiro town council, and Nyakitunda.

From the experiences shared around what is happening in their areas, religious leaders working with other stakeholders at local council levels have since June, 2020 stopped underage girls from getting married and being married off by their parents and relatives, and ensured that perpetrators are brought to book.

Religious leaders, who are part of the champions in the struggle to end child marriages have been empowered by RTU to speak about the need to end child marriages and the need for parents to protect the children after finding that they reach many people and deliver intended messages.

“The reason why this project involves champions is because we as civil society, it is impossible to reach everywhere, but when we involve different people and stakeholders, and opinion leaders, and we educate them on what we want to see or the importance of protecting children, then they are able to go into their communities. Working with them has turned out to be very magical.” Ms Hope Nankunda, the Executive Director, Raising Teenagers Uganda says

Working with religious leaders has made the project unique because many times religious leaders have been left to preach the good news instead of being used to protect children in communities, yet they are well positioned to meet parents on a daily or weekly basis according to Ms. Nankunda

“Any message that comes from religious leaders makes a huge impact because we believe that as they preach the gospel, the messages touch someone even if all people don’t change in a day.” She notes

Rev. Fr. Dezi Mwesigye Kyeikara, the Catholic Priest at Rwentsinga Catholic Parish, Nyakitunda Sub County says working as a champion has made him appreciate the challenges that girls go through and he is ready to act until there is a change.

“Working with Raising Teenagers Uganda has exposed me to what girls go through. To this effect, I have committed to moving in villages in my area of jurisdiction sensitizing parents and their children about the dangers of child marriages and how possible it is for girls to keep in school and realize their potential and I am sure there is going to be a change,” he said

Ms. Loyce Asiimwe a champion from Rugaaga Sub County holds that she first lacked basics of child protection until she was identified and made a champion by Raising Teenagers Uganda.

“At first, members of the community could not understand what we were telling them. I think it is because we lacked some basic training, but with this empowerment from Raising Teenagers Uganda, the impact is already felt on ground. I recently stopped a girl from getting married. The man was arrested and charged and he is now in prison. The girl has changed her mind and she no longer wants to get married. I am ready to go and cause more change,” she testified

The intervention is an eye opening experience to some champions. Rev. Moses Ahimbisibwe, a priest at Kyempara Church of Uganda Parish, says he has realized a need to ensure that children need protection.

“My eyes are now open because I know that our children need to be cared for and protected against society evils like being married off when they are still young. They need to taught to know what is most important to them because they really don’t know these things.” Said Rev. Ahimbisibwe

The project envisions a time in Isingiro district,where girls are able to go to school and complete their education, communities can appreciate the importance of education, parents can understand the benefit of their children completing school, and community stakeholders can appreciate that child marriages are wrong.

Some of the champions speaking about their experiences. COUNTRYSIDE REPORTS
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