Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi (Mrs)FOUNDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Caring Hearts Uganda
Weekends were filled with jubilation and dancing. Drums sounded loudly and it was always a customised beat meant for marriage ceremonies. There was a certain jubilation mood that covered the village and got everyone excited. The only question I remember people asking was "whose daughter is getting married?"
One long line mainly of older women dressed up in traditional wear, carrying baskets of cereals freshly harvested or specially kept in the granary for this occasion, walked through a small walk path. From one hill, through the valley singing, clapping and making celebration sounds, they peacefully walked. If you saw these lines of people from a distance, you would think it was a line of white egrets.
On this weekend, I decided to go stand on the road side simply because I had not seen this kind of occasion for sometime since I was in boarding school. Making our necks longer, standing on our toes and clearly being impatient of peeping, me and my cousins couldn't wait for the crew to reach us. The yellow umbrella was always the only outstanding indicator of who the bride was.
Closer to the group we came and when the bride passed us we could all tell that my best friend Kyomu was the bride. Shocked and scared I run home. Engulfed in fear of who could be next. Kyomu was barely fifteen and last year her friend Alice who was fourteen was married off to the Sheikh of our village mosque.
One at a time, the girls who I grew up with became young mothers. When I got time to have a chat I finally realized why they were harassed to become wives so early. Actually, they stayed home for close to a week when everybody else was at school and the stay at home happened every month. Their stay behind when everyone else was at school was a constant reminder to their fathers that they were menstruating thus being grown up women according to our culture.
I couldn't let this happen to my friend's children. I believe that I am placed in a position where I can help advocate against child marriages. I can possibly do something to help the girls stay in school even when they are menstruating. I could possibly speak to them and encourage the girls to take their education seriously and refuse to have their future messed