Back in December, our senior fundraising and communications manager, Megan, sat down over zoom to chat to Lydia, the manager of rights, social protection and accountability at our partners PLA. Lydia has a huge degree of knowledge into the issue of child labour in Uganda and we hope the discussion will offer an first-hand insight into our ‘Eradicating Child Labour in Kampala, Uganda’ project.
Child labour can be incredibly harmful to children’s health and prevent them from completing an education. This project aims to protect children in over 12,000 families from child labour and support their families to be more economically resilient for the future, so that they needn’t rely on their children to boost their income.
You can find a video recording of the discussion below followed by a transcript.
[CW: mentions of r*pe and unwanted, child pregnancy]
Thank you so much for joining us. Lydia manages our program in Uganda working with children and families to tackle child labor. We’re really excited to have you telling us about the impact of the project today. So what are you most proud of from the project?
Thank you so much, Megan. What I’m most proud of in this particular project is the fact that the project has empowered children from less privileged backgrounds and households because when the project was designed and the fact that it was targeting them, the education they have obtained. This is something that the project leaves them with. So for me, that is very important and key in this particular project.
The other aspect is the vulnerable households. The vulnerable households have received skills from which they have been transformed to earn a living but also Megan, most importantly, is the fact that these skills, They can be passed on from one generation to another and they can still bring income within this particular household.
So for me, that is the highlight for this particular project. I think working through households seems to have a really transformative effect for the long term.
So what do you think will be the lasting impact of the project for children?
For this project, one of the lasting impacts is the fact that young people will have employability skills that they will use to join the labor market.
And they’ll be using these skills as a tool of negotiation. So that instead of entering prematurely without any skill and without any certification on themselves, but now they have it, so it leaves them with this skill and this certification that they can enter the market and use it as a tool for gaining better terms and conditions of employment.
And indeed you know, the beneficiaries are so appreciative of this particular certification. One of them we have is a young lady. This young lady every week she sends in appreciation messages and, you know, she’s talking about it like ‘my goodness. Thank you. Thank you. Platform for Labour Action I did not think I would ever have a certificate to myself.’
And just imagine such a transformation of such a young lady who is appreciative that every week she’s sending in appreciative messages and telling the world. of what she has acquired. It’s very important and it’s very, you know, it’s very touching at the end of the day. And again, that speaks to the relevancy of the project, to the target groups.
Absolutely. It’s amazing that you’ve had such a profound effect on this young woman that she’s so proud of her accomplishment and so grateful to have been given the opportunity. Those are the kind of stories that I love to hear. So have you got any more memorable moments from the project and the children that you’ve worked with through through this work with PLA?
Alright, I call it the “aha” moment for me in this particular project when during the process of selecting, verifying the beneficiaries that would benefit from the vocational scaling, there was this young lady. This young lady, first of all, she has a disability.
She cannot speak, and also she cannot hear, And on top of that, she had been raped, on her way from fetching water. So she had given birth to a child. So she was you know, she, was a child mother. And here I was faced with this lady, this young lady with all these difficulties and vulnerabilities around her. Of course the parents did not know what to do with her. And here we are and when she came to me, what first came to my mind, I’m like, ‘oh my goodness, where am I going to put this young lady?’ Because at that time, like we didn’t know any vocational institutions that could, you know, take her and be able to skill her into what she wanted to do.
And so she kept on being on my mind and all the time. So I kept on asking, ‘okay, we are what am I gonna do for this young lady. She’s facing multiple vulnerabilities around her and the family itself is coming from a vulnerable household. The mother is, a single mother herself.’
So, you know, it was really multiple vulnerabilities. So here I go to one of the institution that we were, you know, mapping out the institutions that will take our beneficiaries. And so I tell them, ‘oh, I have there’s this lady, she cannot speak, she cannot hear, she can only use sign language—would you accommodate her?’
‘Oh my God. Of course we do.’
I was so happy and excited about it because you know, I was carrying this weight for her and like, I just wish I could get somewhere. Cause at first Megan, I thought maybe she would train from the community, but again, I wanted her to get something with a certificate on it.
So when I got this institution and we were willing to take her on, oh my goodness, I was so happy and excited. And, you know, she comes to the institution and guess what, she has been one of the. most active, you know, beneficiaries throughout the entire skilling period. Even the institution itself, when we were having activities like music, dance, and grammar, because we were organizing those in the institutions.
I tell you what, she was at the forefront. She danced to the traditional dances and she was the best in class. She came out on top of her class, you can imagine. So that is for me, my “aha” moment that I can actually speak about because I’m excited. And guess what, when she goes back to the community, Because the community was also a bit sort of like they had given up, but now they’re seeing a transformative person and the community has decided to mobilize funds to set her up for a salon, can you imagine? I’m like, ‘oh my goodness.’
This is one of those areas that really you know, it is so touching and really it just shows how impactful this project has been to the beneficiaries.
Thank you so much, Lydia, and I think it speaks really highly to the dedication of the team at P l A, including yourself, you know, how hard and tirelessly you work to make sure that everybody is included and also to hear the, profound impact that can make like, This young woman now will own her own salon and provides for her young child, which is really fantastic that you’ve had that impact.
Thank you so much, Lydia. I really enjoyed speaking to you. We’ll sign off there. Thank you.