Every year on 12 August, the world celebrates International Youth Day. The annual occasion celebrates young people and raises awareness about issues that affect them. There are events all over the world, and each year has a designated theme. 2016's theme is: "The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption".
Most young people grow up with layers of support around them. ChildHope works with young people when the usual support structures have broken down, leaving them vulnerable and marginalised. In Uganda, ChildHope partners with Kitgum Concerned Women's Association (KICWA) to work with young people who have lost the support of family and community, and have no other means of stability. KICWA provide access to education and livelihoods opportunities, which are crucial to their wellbeing.
Christine's story highlights many of the challenges young people face in rural Uganda, but also shows the strength and resilience of young people in the face of hardship.
When Christine was just 15 years old she lost both her parents to AIDS, and became the sole caregiver of her five younger siblings. Christine had to give up school and start work in order to provide food and care for her brothers and sisters.
"As the eldest daughter, I immediately became the bread winner in the family and had to comfort my siblings despite the reality of dealing with grief. I had to be strong to be able to look after my siblings because it was important for them to grow well without trauma. Besides, I never wanted to separate from them by putting them under the care of distant relative".
As the head of family, Christine struggled every month to find work, sometimes making bricks or digging in people's gardens for eight hours where she earned approximately £7 per month. When she came home in the evenings, she took care of the home and children, missing out on her own childhood.
After three years Christine learnt of KICWA's project. And due to her situation, she was registered for vocational skills training in her home town, and was later attached to a community based artisan workshop. It only took Christine 3 months to demonstrate her capabilities knitting and sewing.
"I was among the children who were out of school, and selected to train in knitting. I also received additional trainings in business skills, functional literacy and numeracy, psychosocial skills".
After three months of tutorship, Christine was beginning to earn some money from making sweaters, and increased her income to almost £50 a week. This enabled Christine to buy food, clothes, soap, sugar, vaseline and pay school fees for three of her siblings.
Through the same project, Christine also joined a youth saving and loan group where she learned about managing her money. So far, Christine has been able to save just over £30. Christine is saving these funds to work towards her dream of setting up her own knitting workshop to help other marginalized children and young people in her community.
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