Amongst the bustling laneways of Nateete’s slum, you’ll find an active sex trade, where women are selling their bodies to provide for their families.
Many of these women are working not because they want to, but because their poverty forces them too. They feel they have no other choice. They put themselves in danger every day, especially since sex trading is illegal in Uganda.
These women aren’t educated and have no job, so the easiest thing is to use their bodies to often provide for their two or three children.
Haggai and his organisation, Bridge Christian Ministry, saw this unhealthy cycle happening and decided to do something about it.
Over the last year, they’ve developed a program to empower these women to discover their potential and capabilities, which they can use to earn an income, and take care of their families needs.
“Our focus is on taking the women from where they are now, to a level where they can contribute to their community and their families,” Haggai says. “Part of this is establishing an economic empowerment program, which can bring an increase in all areas of their lives.”
BCM is currently working with 12 clients and six of these have children. Some of them have been using their money from sex trade to support their drug and alcohol habits. Some only think about saving money for the next booze or drug fix. Some only live from client-to-client so they can pay for their shared hotel room where they live and work.
“All of these women have expressed the desire to cut ties with their old life and begin a new life with their families and society. And many of them have been involved in witchcraft to gain favour in their business,” Haggai says.
BCM’s one-year recovery program works in two phases:
- Restoration phase
- Empowerment phase
“In our Restoration Phase, we help the women escape the sex business through counselling, life skills classes, and job training. We want to set up a secure emergency house, which will be used as a rehabilitation centre for these young girls,” he says.
“The emergency house will become a home for the women for six months and it will be the first step in helping them turn their lives around and get a second chance. We intend to give treatment (medication of STDs and other related sexual infectious diseases) and supply their basic needs.”
BCM has been running classes over the last year, and so far, many of these 12 women have been attending regularly, which has been very promising.
The next phase – the Empowerment Phase – is where the BCM team helps their clients find employment or income.
“During this time, we help them to build their financial foundations before they are able to support themselves and business skills. After training, we intend to give them a start-up fund and a house for sleeping in for six months,” Haggai says.
“We train them with skills of financial management and prepare them for job interviews. For those that have children, we encourage them to start a small income-generating businesses.”
This program is still very much in its infancy. This first group of 12 women are attending classes, and it’s already making a difference in their lives – read Irene’s story.
But the dream is so much bigger!
We need you to help get this program to the next level. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about regularly supporting this program through prayer or finances.